Tag Archives: Travel

Highlights of The 5th Waterberg Trust Challenge Ride, 2019

Skies looked threatening at the start of The 5th Waterberg Trust Challenge Ride but the game viewing was excellent with herds of zebra and antelope enjoying lush grass.

The ride was hosted by Ant’s Nest who had prepared some of their best horses for what proved to be a 208 kilometre marathon.

Since Ant’s horses usually graze in the bush we were able to get exceptionally close wildlife while riding around the property.

Riders were able to observe rare breeds such as Livingstone eland and sable antelope.

We made our way up to Ant’s Hill in search of rhino, finding the dominant male.

Jessica Babich of Save The Waterberg Rhino gave riders a talk on how funds raised by TWT are being used to install high-tech security equipment to combat poaching.

Early on 31st January, everyone was ready to cross the Waterberg, heading north towards the Palala River.

The horses wore head-collars, lead ropes and long-distance saddles for the journey.

Ant Baber led the team of twelve ladies who soon found themselves passing one of his breeding herds of Cape buffalo.

After pausing to take photos we rode through neighbouring game reserves, crossing wide open plains where wildebeest and blesbok roam.

Lunch was taken at the Waterberg Living Museum, established by Clive Walker and his son Anton Walker, who showed us around. They have a room dedicated to information on rhinos and the poaching situation.

The Waterberg Trust has donated picnic tables, benches and information boards to this centre of environmental education created for local schoolchildren and visitors.

We rode on, spotting giraffe, impala, blesbok and golden wildebeest as we made our way

through another reserve to spend the night at Waterberg Cottages on Triple B Ranch.

It is home for the Baber family who began rearing cattle in the Waterberg in the 1880’s.

There was a solar-heated pool to relax sore muscles and reviving ginger drinks for all.

Dinner was served on the veranda of the farmhouse built by Ant’s grandfather in 1928.

The next morning, we rode through the lovely old traditional Transvaal farm, passing herds of Bonsmara stud cattle.

Summer rain had filled some of the twenty-two dams built by Ant’s father.

We cantered down through woodland, where baboons could be heard barking, and stopped for breakfast at Horizon Horseback Safaris where hippo were in residence.

After crossing plains inhabited by ostrich, we reached another lake on the Melkrivier.

Egyptian geese,  African fish eagle and rare spur-winged geese flew up as we passed by.

We crossed through an old cattle farm and cantered along red roads to Lindani game reserve where we stopped for lunch at a dam where crocodile are known to flourish.

Everyone was pretty tired but after a relaxed lunch, when we could rest the horses, we rode into more hilly country.

Lindani game reserve has a high population of giraffe, warthog and other plains game.

Two nights were spent at Motseng Lodge where the horses enjoyed excellent grazing.

This enabled us to pay a visit to Lapalala Wilderness School where we met a python and

enjoyed a game drive on Lapalala Wilderness before exploring a remote corner of Lindani on horseback.

Crossing reed-choked stream beds could be challenging but the horses were brave.

One of the highlights of the ride was reaching the crest of the Buffleshoek escarpment.

After coming across giraffe, we dismounted to descend through thick vegetation for a couple of miles.

It was difficult to believe we had brought thirteen horses down the towering cliff face.

After perhaps the greatest of many long canters up the sandy tracks of the Waterberg

the riders made it to Jembisa game reserve where, after following oryx though seringa woodland,

the team was greeted by chilled champagne set out under a tree.

Our goal had been reached, the ride had ended. Most riders had spent a total of 38 hours in the saddle over 7 days: quite an achievement.

~Photographs by Ant Baber who led The Waterberg Trust Challenge Ride 2019~

The next day, riders were able to visit Lethabo Kids Club in the township of Leseding where we met children who had benefited from TWT’s grant to the ‘Back to School’ project and handed over a donation of sports clothes and underwear for Nurse Grace to distribute. She updated us on how successful Dignity Dreams sanitary packs were proving by enabling schoolgirls to remain in lessons whilst they have their periods.

TWT Trustees saw some of the 24 security camera erected to combat rhino poaching in the Waterberg and discussed plans to install more of these effective deterrents.

Very many thanks to Ant’s Nest and Jembisa who hosted the ride and enabled so many of us to visit community projects in the Waterberg.

Day 4 of The Waterberg Trust Challenge Ride 2018 –

TWT Ride 2018 DAY 3 - view from Bushwillow

The fourth day of The Waterberg Trust Challenge Ride 2018 was one of contrasts. We woke to clear weather although rain was forecast. This was welcomed as we had a long way to go and needed cool conditions.

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We left Windsong Cottage, mounted our horses and rode to Boschdraai Primary School at the nearby Sesotho village.

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The riders had brought pens and pencils for the 140 children who expressed their thanks by singing three very touching songs. The headmistress, who has been working at the eco-school for 24 years, needs a new printer with ink cartridges. She needs set pupils work as she only has one other teacher and three classes of children.

TWT Ride 2018 DAY 4 - Michael riding in the dust

We passed wild fig trees as we cantered down sandy farm tracks to Horizon Horseback’s game reserve and picked our way through the natural rock formations of Ghost Kopjie.

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Fissures in the old red-standstone, said to be formed in the pre-Cambrian era some 4 millions years ago, is home to nocturnal creatures such as owls and porcupine.

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At one stage it got too tricky for the horses but we had never taken this route before.

We had to double back a bit but we made it down to the grasslands below.

We saw jackal as we crossed the plans plains, took a break by a lake, and rode on down long marrum roads that run between game reserves. The vegetation became lusher.

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Rain set in and the going became slippery but the horses kept cantering.

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It was not long before we reached Lindani game reserve where the back-up crew had set up lunch in a paddock where we could unsaddle the horses and let them relax.

Ant warned us that there had been a crocodile attack on the nearby dam.

But it hadn’t been seen for a while and the horses were able to roam freely.

The riders enjoyed a barbecue lunch by the wetland.

Some were in need of reinforcements.

That afternoon we saw zebra, wildebeest and warthog as we cantered across the plains.

As we rode into a belt of acacia woodland we came across giraffe with young.

They allowed us close enough to take photographs.

Giraffe have a different gait to other animals, although horses can be trained to walk as they do, which is meant to be more comfortable for the rider.

It was a long but varied day.  Sandy tracks across the reserve to Motseng Lodge.

We were thirsty by the time we reached the paddock where the horses were to spend the night but Ant and the riders were still smiling.

To see footage taken from the helmet of one of the riders on this day – please click here

You can see a little of what Lindani is like and take a look at Motseng, the lodge where we spent the night here:

The Waterberg Trust Challenge Ride 2018 proves a great success

 

Sophie Neville on the waterberg Trust Challenge Horse Ride 2018

‘It was demanding but the greatest fun.’

Fifteen riders crossed seven different game reserves in six days, covering 187kms while learning about Save The Waterberg Rhino and visiting community projects that benefit young people in the Limpopo Province of South Africa.

The Waterberg Trust Challenge Ride 2018 ~The Waterberg Trust Challenge Horse Ride 2018~

The ride began at Ant’s Nest game reserve where team members from the United Kingdom and Bermuda learnt about Save The Waterberg Rhino.

~Rhino walking up to riders gathered on the plains at Ant’s Nest~

The challenge ride was led by Ant Baber whose family have lived in the Waterberg for five generations. He has spent the last twenty-one years re-introducing wildlife to the area.

~Ant Baber~

Today, white rhino, giraffe, buffalo, warthog, baboon, zebra, wildebeest, eland, kudu, nyala, impala, blesbok, a variety of other antelope can be spotted from horseback.

 ~TWT riders observing zebra on Ant’s Hill game reserve~

January proved a good time of year for there were many newborn animals.

We were able to observe breeding groups of rare species such as sable and roan antelope.

Sable antelope at Ant's Nest

The riders helped to capture a sick eland so it could receive treatment from a game vet.

The game vet ministering to an injured eland on Ant's Nest~A sick eland cow receiving veterinary treatment~

We learnt more about the area while traversing six other game reserves.

The Waterberg Trust Challenge Ride crossing Lindani game reserve in 2018~TWT Riders crossing Lindani game reserve~

~Observing young giraffe from horseback on Lindani~

We saw golden wildebeest, red heartebeest, vervet monkeys, ostrich, black-backed jackal, bushbuck, oryx and waterbuck as well as species we’d seen previously.

Descending the Waterberg escapement on the Water~Descending an escarpment on foot~

~Reaching the Palala River on Jembisa game reserve~

Over the week riders were able to visit a number of charitable projects supported by The Waterberg Trust, which gave us a chance to meet local people.

~Discussing conservation issues with Clive Walker at the Living Museum~

~The Waterberg Trust Riders at Lapalala Wilderness School~

~The ‘Back to School’ project at Lethabo Kids Club in the township of Leseding~

~Nurse Grace telling TWT riders about her work in local schools~

‘What a trip. It was totally WOW!! I can’t quite believe I have done it …’The Waterberg

~The Waterberg Trust Challenge Ride 2018~

Riding through Ant’s Nest Game Reserve on Day One of The Waterberg Trust Challenge Ride 2017

We started spotting wildlife the moment we drove in through the gates of Ant’s Nest, a private game reserve in the Waterberg. This young roan antelope was in our path.

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Twelve riders had flown out from the UK and Australia, at their own cost, to learn about the Waterberg by riding across the plateau with Ant Baber and his experienced guides,

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TWT Trustee Sophie Neville, who was once a horse safari guide in the area, met the group at Johannesburg airport and explained about projects supported by the Waterberg Trust, as she accompanied riders on the expedition.

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Although we covered some distance on the first afternoon, the important thing was for riders to try out their horses and get used to the long-distance saddles while there was still a chance to make changes. Juliet Maddan, who had gathered the group together, was also wearing a hot-weather helmet for the first time.

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It was a delight to come across wild animals who are used to grazing in the reserve with the horses and allow riders to get very close.

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The wildebeest were unperturbed by our presence and the horses were relaxed.

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We saw a variety of plains game and had time to take a few photographs.

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Some riders came across white rhino with Ant Baber that very afternoon, and were able to learn a bit about their territorial behaviour.

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Disaster struck at the end of the day when a gasket blew on a landcruiser as it was going up a steep slope. With no engine power the vehicle slid backwards but the riders were fit and jumped out as the guide steered it into a bush. It proved the start of an adventurous week.

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That night there was plenty to talk about as we gathered around the fire and made plans for the long ride ahead of us.

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For an overview of the Waterberg Trust Challenge Ride 2017 please click here

If you would like to make a donation to support the work of the trust please click here

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Another successful TWT challenge ride

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-Ant Baber leading The Waterberg Trust Challenge Ride 2017-

Twelve intrepid riders from around the UK, and one from Australia, successfully completed the third Waterberg Trust Challenge Ride covering 181 kilometers at some speed, crossing rivers and rocky terrain.

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-Riders from Yorkshire crossing the Melk Rivier on horseback-

The six-day expedition proved a real adventure, traversing four different private game reserves and stretching everyone to the limits.

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-Climbing up from the Palala River on Jembisa game reserve-

The horses were beautifully looked after by the guides and back-up team from Ant’s Nest who hosted the expedition.

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-Riders from Yorkshire encountering white rhino at Ant’s Nest on the third TWT Challenge Ride-

Riders, who paid their own travel and safari costs, had to raise a minimum of £1,000 each for The Waterberg Tust to support community projects in the Waterberg.

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Funds raised will be divided between Save The Waterberg Rhino, Lapalala Wilderness School and Lethabo Kids Club in the township of Leseding, with support also being given to other health, welfare and educational projects. The 2017 riders were able to visit projects already supported by The Waterberg Trust. They all took part in an inspirational workshop on the importance of wildlife conservation at Lapalala Wilderness School on the Palala River.

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-Meeting the educators at Lapalala Wilderness School-

The Waterberg Trust riders’ fund-raising efforts in 2016 made it possible for 125 children and their teachers to attend a residential course here. We met the first group from Meetsetshehla Secondary School in Vaalwater:

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-Some of the 125 students sponsored by The Waterberg Trust-

Students from Mokolo Primary School in Vaalwater will be able to come another week. As The Waterberg Trust also paid for pupils’ transport, local children from all backgrounds will be able to gain a grounding in environmental awareness, develop leadership skills and establish contact with a mentor who can help with wildlife issues.

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-Pupils from Meetshesethla Secondary School learning about treats to wildlife-

Having said goodbye to the horses, riders saw an anti-poaching security post donated to Save The Waterberg Rhino by The Waterberg Trust Riders in 2016.

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-Save The Waterberg Rider’s new security point ready to be manned on a 24 hour basis-

They also met children at Lethabo Kids Club in Leseding township who showed-off the school uniforms purchased with grants from The Waterberg Trust in 2016 to ensure every child goes to school.

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-Lethabo Kids Club that has been running for 15 years in the township of Leseding-

The needs of older students who have shown more than ten years committment were discussed. Some are seeking sponsorship for tertiary education.

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-Meeting the youth who help with Letabo Kids Club in Leseding-

It was a joy to meet the people of the Waterberg, learn of their cultural heritage and explore the bushveldt so rich in natural history.

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-TWT Riders on Jembisa-

The ride was led by Ant Baber following in the footsteps of his great-grandfather E.A. Davidson, who explored the area on horseback in early 1900’s.

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-Ant Baber who has been leading horse safaris for more than twenty years-

The Waterberg Trust, a registered UK charity, was represented by trustee Sophie Neville who, along with the twelve other riders, whould like to extend heartfelt thanks to our hosts, the land-owners and all those who sponsored the ride, especially Ant’s Nest and Jembisa.

If you would like to make a donation to support The Waterberg Trust please click here.

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Last Day of The Waterberg Trust Challenge Ride

After six long days in the saddle, TWT riders made it back to the luxury of Jembisa lodge where they were able to kick off their boots and relax.

reaching Jembisa

The delicious food and beautiful interiors were appreciated all the more for being hard-won. Since Jembisa was sponsoring the ride it was interesting to meet the staff and learn more about the game reserve that stretches up into the hills either side of the Palala River.

Jembisa Lodge

The lodge itself was equipped with anything you would need while staying in the African bush. There was even a salt-water pool where riders could sooth aching muscles.

Pool at Jembisa

Jembisa normally offers safaris for families wanting to explore the African bush. TWT riders enthusiastically grabbed the opportunity to find out more about the Waterberg –

Jembisa

finding out about dung beetles and termite activity

Termite mound

and climbing down the rocky cliffs above the Palala River

Riders on foot

to explore sites inaccessible on horseback.

Intrepid explorers

It was under these overhanging rocks that ancient Bushman paintings were discovered,

Bushmen paintings

along with stone tools and shards of pottery used by the San or ‘People of the Eland’.

Bushman paintingJembisa have been staunch supporters of The Waterberg Trust who aid a range of projects in the region and are doing all they can to help in the battle against rhino poaching by fundraising for Save The Waterberg Rhino. If you would like to know more, please contact us using the Comments box below.

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Reporting back on the Waterberg Charity Ride 2015 – Part 4

Thanks to our dedicated group of riders and their donors, the Waterberg Charity Ride 2015 raised more money in sponsorship than ever imagined.

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Preparing to set off from Horizon Lodge

The ride finished on 31st January 2015. By mid-March we thought a total of £16,000 had come in. This far exceeded the original £1,000 that each rider had been challenged to find, on top of paying for their own flights, travel insurance and the cost of their food, accommodation, transfers and horses.

Waterberg Charity Ride sets off from Horizon
Riders and guides ready to set off from Horizon Horseback on Triple B Ranch in the Waterberg

However thanks to press coverage and huge generosity from supporters, cheques and Justgiving.com donations have kept coming in. One rider raised funds by selling some of her shoes, another, who lives in deepest darkest Herefordshire asked her friends to help her to sell home-grown mistletoe for Christmas decorations. A rider from Perthshire in Scotland threw a party and asked for sponsorship instead of gifts for her 50th Birthday.

Perthshire Advertiser

Together with some matched funding and the Gift Aid now recovered we are able to send £22,784 to help people of the Waterberg. Of this sum £10,000 is allocated for the education of children in need and £12,784 for training auxiliary nurses, in line with the requests received from the donors themselves. If more money comes in, we will forward it to South Africa where it really will transform lives. Our Justgiving.com page is still open!

Two boys at Kids Club
Children of the Waterberg

It is a huge amount, received with enormous gratitude. The riders were all so enthusiastic and all gave so much of themselves.  A sponsored ride demands a great deal. The effort involved isn’t immediately apparent as it ranges from getting fit to organising fund-raising activities while making arrangements for animals and families to be looked after in the rider’s absence. It wasn’t quite the same as going on holiday!

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Torrential rain at the end of the ride!

The organisers of the Waterberg Charity Ride would like to extend their grateful thanks to all those who supported the challenge in the Waterberg, especially Laura Dowinton, the directors, guides, drivers and staff at Horizon Horseback Adventures who hosted the ride.

The lodge at Horizon Horseback
The lodge at Horizon Horseback

We owe thanks to David Baber for allowing us to traverse Summer Place Farm and Koshari Game Reserve who put the riders up for the first two nights, amazing us with the sight of a debra – a cross between a donkey and zebra.

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A tame debra on Koshari Game Reserve

The riders were not only guided through Ant’s Nest and Ant’s Hill Game Reserves, where they learnt about wildlife management, but were treated to a drinks party where they met an orphaned rhino and his friend before being driven off to find four more white rhino in the bush, which was very special.

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White rhino in a mud wallow at Ant’s Nest

The group arrived at Lindani soaking wet from having ridden through a rain storm and were grateful for comfortable beds and hot showers.

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Coping with wet equipment

Refreshed by swims in the pool and the sight of great herds of game the next day, spirits were high by the time the riders reached Jembisa, a private game reserve on the Palala River. After a tough climb up the escapement they were greeted by a well deserved lunch.

Feeling the miles covered!
Feeling the miles covered!

After spending a night at Kingfisher Cottage where they watched hippo wallowing in the river, the riders pressed on to the most northerly point on the property and were truly grateful for the hospitality extended to them by everyone who looked after them at Jembisa Bush Home at the end of the ride.

Arriving at Jembisa after a long day in the saddle
Arriving at Jembisa after a long day in the saddle

The lodge staff at Jembisa put on a special celebratory dinner under the stars, relished by the hungry riders. We worked out that they had covered approximately 200km on their exploratory journey across the Waterberg Plateau from the Melk River to the Palala River.

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The group much enjoyed visiting the Waterberg Welfare Society hospice where they met nurses, staff inspiring to become nurses and a number of young people at Timothy House who entertained us with cultural dancing.

Cultural Dancers
Cultural Dancers at WWS

The support and enthusiasm we were given has spurred us on to consider mounting other rides next year! Contact us via the Comments box if you’d like to come.

One of the riders wrote saying, ‘Thank Goodness I had that wonderful adventure in January with you r riding safari in the Waterberg – it was so much fun and such lovely people! An experience of a life time!’

Sophie Neville in South Africa