Friday, 2 June 2017

Author Sophie Neville plans to ride across the game reserves of South Africa

The Waterberg Trust Challenge Ride 2018

Are you up for a challenge?

Would you help Sophie Neville raise awareness for Save the Waterberg Rhino along with educational, health and welfare projects that uplift communities in the area?

Following the success of our third annual ride, we have gathered a team of fit and experienced riders to join us on a sponsored horse safari in January 2018 through the private game reserves of the Waterberg.

This will be Sophie's 5th challenge ride since she rode 175kms across South America to raise funds for the Waterberg Welfare Society in 2008.

- Sophie Neville watching white rhino - 

Saturday 20th Jan: the team of riders depart the UK for Johannesburg 

DAY 1 - Sunday 21st Jan The team of twelve riders will be met by Sophie at Oliver Tambo Airport, Johannesburg and driven about 3 hours north to Ant’s Nest Private Game Reserve deep in the African bush. After settling into the lodge we will go for a game ride looking for zebra and wildebeest to try out the horses.It will be high summer in South Africa, so the bushveld will be green. We’ll be able to hear about plans for the ride as we have dinner by the fire that evening.

DAY 2 - Monday 22nd Jan We’ll spend the day riding up to Ant's Hill, viewing game on horseback and looking for a breeding herds of buffalo, as well as rare sable and roan antelope. As the sun goes down, we’ll meet white rhino living on the reserve while Tessa Baber gives a talk on the work of 'Save the Waterberg Rhino'. 

~ Tessa Baber of Save The Waterberg Rhino~
The Waterberg is home to the third largest population of rhino in South Africa, so their protection on the plateau is vital.

DAY 3 - Tuesday 23rd Jan We set off early, riding east through the reserve and onto sandy roads where we can canter for miles. We are planning to ride to the newly opened ‘Living Museum’ where we can learn more about rhino from the author and wildlife artist Clive Walker, one of South Africa’s leading conservationists. That afternoon we hope ride through a reserve breeding rare golden wildebeest up to Triple B Ranch, the cattle stud owned by Anthony Baber's family for over a hundred years. We’ll stay at Windsong Cottage - the farmhouse built by Ant’s grandfather, Alfred Baber.

DAY 4 - Wednesday 24th Jan We will ride through the Sesotho village on the farm and down through the game reserve at Horizon, which will give us the chance of seeing impala, zebra, giraffe and eland along with primate species as we might spot vervet monkeys and baboon. 

Lunch will be enjoyed at a dam with the hope of spotting hippo. We’ll have a long ride in the afternoon, as we make our way over the hills and through Lindani private game reserve for the night. There is a good paddock here for the horses, a pool and we should be able to see game from the lodge. I’m assured we'll see a large number of warthog.

DAY 5 – Thursday 25th Jan We will ride through Lindani, up a kloof to find game on plains that look down past a north-facing escarpment. We should see warthog, zebra, giraffe, eland, red hartebeest, wildebeest and greater kudu. We ride under high red cliffs, where vultures nest, to Jembisa, a private game reserve on the Palala River where we will have lunch. We’ll ride across the reserve and be able to relax at the lodge, enjoying comfy beds and hot baths.

DAY 6 – Friday 26th Jan The Waterberg Trust enables local children to go on a residential course at Lapalala Wilderness School near Jembisa. We hope to be able to see around this project before riding across Jembisa that morning.

We should find hippos and perhaps see crocodile before riding up to a view-point to grab a few photographs before bidding our horses farewell.

DAY 7 – Saturday 27th Jan After breakfast outside we will take a game drive to see ancient bushmen paintings on the reserve before brunch and drive back via an excellent sewing project selling curios and an educational project in the township enroute to the airport.

~TWT riders visit Letabo Kid's Club's Back to School project~

Sunday 28th Jan - The flight will arrive back in the UK early am. 

The horse safari will be hosted by Ant Baber who owns Ant's Nest. Sophie Neville, a trustee of TWT who became a safari guide in the Waterberg back in 1992, will lead the group and take riders around established charitable projects in the area.

The ride is a unique opportunity to ride alongside wild animals in this beautiful area, now proclaimed a UNESCO biosphere. The itinerary may change - but only for the better! The group of 12 riders need to be fit as there will be approx 25 – 40kms of riding per day.

We plan to visit a number of projects being supported by The Waterberg Trust and meet local people who will benefit from the funds raised by the riders.

To participate team members need to raise a minimum sponsorship of £1000 for The Waterberg Trust. As a registered UK charity, Gift Aid can then be added. 50% of sponsorship raised will go to Save the Waterberg Rhino Trust and 50% will go to community projects in the Waterberg. 

While we encourage riders to find sponsorship some of us are raising the donation of £1,000 in other ways such as hosting a sale or asking for donations instead of birthday gifts.

- Sophie Neville-

For more information, please contact Sophie

You can see photos from previous rides, along with information about the projects and info on how to make donations on The Waterberg Trust website:

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Travel with a purpose

- Author Sophie Neville in South Africa - 

I have been passionate about promoting the conservation of the rhinoceros all my adult life. This year we gathered a group of twelve experienced riders to generate funds for Save The Waterberg Rhino and associated community projects in rural South Africa.

The idea was to raise sponsorship by riding 180kms across the Waterberg hills to the Palala River, a six-day trek through the big game country featured in my memoir 'Ride the Wings of Morning'. Each rider paid their own safari costs and raised £1,000 or more for The Waterberg Trust - a small but effective UK registered charity.

We set out on 20th January. It was high summer in southern Africa where the bush was blooming after recent rains. We came across zebra and wildebeest enjoying lush grazing after a year of dought. 

To our joy we saw animals great and small from warthog to giraffe.

We came across Cape buffalo

along with a number of different species of antelope, including rare roan antelope recently been re-introduced to the area.

And then we encountered white rhino.

I was cautious about approaching these two young males but they are used to horses, who graze with them on the game reserve, and I was able to get pretty close. 

-The author Sophie Neville riding with rhino-

The threat of poaching is so accute that their horns have been saturated in poison to negate their astonishing commercial value. They also have a 24 hour armed guard.

Details of the current crisis were revealed by Save The Waterberg Rhino. There are five different species of rhinoceros in the world. All are threatened, some to the edge of extinction. In South Africa along, poachers have been slaughtering about four white rhino a day. These are breeding animals. Females with small calves are shot, their horns hacked off and exported to the Far East. 

There is a huge market for the horn. It is only keratin and can smell revolting but sadly it is fashionable to own what has become a symbol of wealth. 

The good news is that The Waterberg Trust raised over £30,000 this year. 50% of funds will be used to install a vital security post with high-tech vehicle recognition systems. 

-Sophie Neville with some TWT Riders outside a security post about to be installed-

The remainder will go to established community projects in the area that benefit local children. £2,000 has been sent to Lethabo Kids Club for the provision of school shoes and bags. 

-TWT riders financing a 'Back to School' project-

We've been able to send more than 100 pupils from the township of Leseding on a residential course at Lapalala Wilderness School to learn about nature conservation. After gaining environmental awareness some chose to work with wildlife or in education and there is a marked committment to re-cycling.  

-Sophie Neville speaking to the students of Metshesethela School-

If you would like to know more or get involved please contact us at The Waterberg Trust