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The Ant’s Experience

Ants lodges, Horse riding holidays, Cross the Wild, Wild Waterberg Trail

Saddling Up for the Wild Waterberg Trail

By | Horses, The Ant's Experience
[:en]The Wild Waterberg Trail is not called wild for no reason. A custom riding holiday designed by Cross the Wild journeys through The Ant Collection, taking you across the Waterberg bushveld, riding alongside its wildest residents and Ants’ rhinos in the day and bedding down under the stars at night.

This year guides Ant and Amanda joined friends Em and Tea from Cross the Wild, along with four of their guests who were ready for an adventure in the great South African outdoors. The group saddled up and headed out from Ants, returning four days later with a bunch of special memories.

Ants lodges, Horse riding holidays, Cross the Wild, Wild Waterberg Trail

© Cross the Wild

Day 1: Racing against rhinos

While making friends with the Ants’ horses on a relaxed afternoon ride, the guests met buffalo, zebra and wildebeest. The rhinos were clearly up for a race and beat the riders to the sundowner spot. In fact, four of the younger and particularly energetic rhinos turned up before the riders got there and had a sundowner without them!

Ants lodges, Horse riding holidays, Cross the Wild, Wild Waterberg Trail

© Cross the Wild

Day 2: Swimming with horses

The first full day of riding clocked over 30km and ended up being a somewhat watery affair. The midday dip in the dam was well-deserved for both the riders and their horses. While the riders relaxed and tucked into a much-needed bush lunch, their four-legged companions enjoyed the time to rest and graze. They were even treated to a visit by Congo, the dominant male rhino.

Ants lodges, Horse riding holidays, Cross the Wild, Wild Waterberg Trail

© Cross the Wild

Later that afternoon, the heavens opened, sending the riders and horses galloping towards the warmth and dry of the day’s final destination, The Shack. To the delight of all, there waiting for them were a fire, freshly baked lasagna and ready-made bed rolls.

Ants lodges, Horse riding holidays, Cross the Wild, Wild Waterberg Trail

© Cross the Wild

Day 3: Sleeping beneath the stars

After a very grey and misty start to the morning, the group got up to a steady gallop towards the local restaurant, Lekhalo, in the first game reserve of the day. After the day’s riding and a late lunch, the group had clocked around 35km over three different reserves that had shown off the Waterberg’s beautifully diverse topography.

Waterberg bush camping

© Cross the Wild

Camp that night was set up along the river in Nyati Wilderness Reserve, where the riders enjoyed a hearty braai and bedded down in bedrolls laid out under the stars. Falling asleep beneath the milky way to the sounds of the river and surrounding bush at night, and without any rain in sight, set the scene for a good night’s sleep.

Waterberg bush camping

© Cross the Wild

Day 4: Toasting to an unforgettable ride

After packing up camp in the morning, the riders readied their horses for the last leg of their journey. Another 30km of riding and a stop at Lekhalo for delicious burgers (the best in Waterberg!) had all riders and horses arrive at the final sundowner spot, the Ants’ airstrip for champagne and snacks to nibble on.

Ants lodges, Horse riding holidays, Cross the Wild, Wild Waterberg Trail

© Cross the Wild

Day 5: Saying goodbyes – until next time!

An early morning ride took the group up the mountain for breakfast with a view and a special time for the riders to say goodbye to their horses. It was the perfect way to end the trail, reflecting on the highlights of the over 120kms they all travelled together across the wild and wonderful Waterberg.

Ants lodges, Horse riding holidays, Cross the Wild, Wild Waterberg Trail

© Cross the Wild

Contact us to be kept in the loop about our horse riding holidays and other safari experiences at Ants.[:de]The Wild Waterberg Trail is not called wild for no reason. One of our favourite customized horse-riding holidays, it takes you across the Waterberg bushveld, riding alongside its wildest residents and Ants’ rhinos in the day and bedding down under the stars at night.
This year, Ant and Amanda guided a group of four guests and two of friends from Cross the Wild, who were all ready for an adventure in the great South African outdoors. The group saddled up and headed out from Ants, returning four days later with a bunch of special memories.[:]

rhino encounters at Ant's Nest

Sundowners with the Rhinos

By | Conservation & Community, Rhinos, The Ant's Experience
[:en]Written by Claire Birtwhistle, a guest at Ant’s Hill

Sundowners on safari is always an enjoyable occasion. Add some special rhino guests to the mix and you’ve got the perfect recipe for an incredibly memorable sundowner experience.

Sundowners with the rhinos; this is what the guests at Ant’s Nest and Ant’s Hill Bush Homes often find themselves being treated to, and one that I was fortunate enough to experience during my stay at Ants Hill.

Rhino sundowners at Ant's Nest

After a long and hot afternoon of some seriously up close and personal experiences with the rhino population in the reserve, some ice-cold drinks were definitely in order. Arriving at the home of Ant Baber, owner of the Ant Collection, a spread of delicious and freshly cooked finger food was waiting for us next to the pool. As we tucked into the snacks, our attention was quietly directed towards a group of approaching rhinos. Seemingly appearing out of nowhere, all of a sudden there were rhinos everywhere. Watching from the safety of the raised deck area, I took great delight in attempting to recognize the rhinos from the various differences that Ant had pointed out to me earlier in the day.

Once all the rhinos had arrived, the real spectacle began as the Lucerne and feed was divvied up among the feeding stations, making sure that each rhino got their fair share.

rhinos being fed at Ant's Nest

Throughout this whole experience, despite the thrill of being so close to these majestic animals, I couldn’t help but acknowledge the nagging feeling at the back of my brain that something about this was just wasn’t quite right. After all, rhinos are wild animals, surely feeding them habituates them to humans? Curiously, I asked Tess how guests generally react to the rhino sundowners and Tess admitted that there has been some concern raised by guests however they still strongly believe in the practice. After hearing their reasoning why, I couldn’t help but agree. Of course, in an ideal world, the rhinos wouldn’t need to be fed or protected at all, however that’s not the reality we live in.

rhino conservation in waterberg

Here’s why the Ant Collection does sundowners with their rhinos:
Putting aside the obvious reasons of drought relief and supplement feeding, the team at Ants has very specific reasons for letting their guests get so close to their rhinos. Simply put, after an experience like that, you can’t help but fall in love with these animals. These rhinos are like children to the team; each of them has their own name and unique personality and once you’ve been exposed to that, there’s really no going back. It’s an opportunity for guests to be educated on the poaching situation, while at the same time, taking personal responsibility for the rhinos.

Ant’s Nest and Ant’s Hill Bush Homes will do anything to protect their rhinos, however, this protection comes at a great personal expense. After a devastating poaching attack in 2012, Ant and Tessa Baber, together with Victoria Crake and Gustav Collins, founded the Save the Waterberg Rhino Foundation in an effort to fight rhino poaching in the Waterberg Biosphere Reserve. The Waterberg is home to the second-largest concentration of rhino in South Africa outside of the Kruger National Park. Its population is vital to the survival of the species and it is therefore critical that these rhinos are protected. The Save the Waterberg Rhino is at the forefront of trying to save this last frontier for the rhino. Its main objective is fundraising in order to achieve their mission and other aims of increasing security, creating awareness, supporting education, facilitate training and employment.

At the moment, guests who visit Ant’s Nest and Ant’s Hill Bush Homes are playing a huge role in keeping this foundation going. After personally meeting these rhinos, many of the guests often want to get involved in the fight. Whether it be donations, or valuable skills and resources, the Waterberg Rhino Foundation needs all the help they can get.

rhino encounters at Ant's Nest

Find out more about the Save the Waterberg Rhino Foundation and how you can get involved here: https://waterberg.net/save-the-waterberg-rhino/[:]

wildlife safari on horseback

Tips for taking photos from horseback

By | The Ant's Experience
[:en]

Anybody who has ever tried to take a photograph while horse riding will know that it is no easy feat.

At Ant’s Nest and Ant’ Hill Bush Homes, we see our guests often struggling with this “problem” while out on our horseback safari activities. It’s a tricky one. On the one hand, you want to be able to capture your adventures and experiences but on the other hand, you don’t want to spend your entire ride worried about camera equipment or taking a tumble off your steed while being distracted by getting that perfect shot. Unfortunately, there is no absolute solution to this, and photographing from horseback is always going to provide its challenges, however, there are a few things you can do to get it right.

Here are 3 tips for taking photos from horseback:

Tip 1 – Horse and Rider Safety
Safety always comes first. When photographing from horseback, you need to be confident that you are completely in control of your horse and your balance. You need to be able to anticipate and prepare for movements your horse might make while you are retrieving and using your camera. Holding reins, keeping a horse still and operating a camera all at once really takes multi-tasking to a new level.

Tip 2 – Only take what you need
Most places that offer horse riding, including Ants, don’t allow riders to wear backpacks as they could create a potential hazard to the horse and rider. This means storage space is limited to a waist pouch or saddlebag. If you can get away with carrying an iPhone or small point-and-click, this is first prize. Your photos won’t be billboard quality but they’ll do the trick and it means that you don’t have to carry bulky equipment. If you really want to take your DSLR, choose a versatile lens as there won’t be space to store an extra one or time to switch between lenses from your perch on your pony, in mid canter.

Tip 3 – Make sure your camera is secure and accessible
Don’t drop your camera! Not only will it most likely break, but it might spook the horses and could cause an accident. When riding with a camera, make sure that the camera is secured to either you or the saddle either via a strong lanyard or neck strap. Lens caps also need to be secured or ditched altogether. They are too fiddly and easy to drop. Rather keep a soft cloth in the bag to prevent the lens from getting scratched.

horseback safari in south africa

It’s a wonder how anybody has ever managed to get a good photo while horse riding. But it can be done. Just make sure to enjoy the horseback safari experience to its full and don’t miss out on the setting and freedom feeling because you were too preoccupied with getting that shot.[:]

safari near Gauteng

Escape to the Waterberg

By | News, The Ant's Experience
[:en]Few places can compare to the picturesque views over the Waterberg valley, perfect sunny climate, pristine air, and wide-open spaces.

Combined with stylish and scenically appointed lodges, Ants Hill & Ant’s Nest Bush Homes are the perfect solution for South African couples, families, or corporates wanting to escape the cities and epicentres of the South African COVID pandemic. A mere 2.5 hours from Gauteng.

Ants Hill and Ant’s Nest are now fully open for either short breaks out of the city or longer-term stays. Ant’s Hill can either be booked for a short break but also lends itself well for those wishing to enjoy a bush home from home experience as an extended stay (1 to 3 months) at great rates.

Other than the freedom of space with exciting safari activities (Open Vehicle Game Drives & Night Drives, Horse Riding, Walks, Mountain Biking, Fishing, and many more), we can provide all the other essential necessities such as high-speed WIFI for business or personal use and uninterrupted power (generator on-site).

Contact us for information or to make a booking.[:]

horseback safari south africa

A Horse-Rider’s Holiday of a Lifetime at Ant’s Hill

By | The Ant's Experience
[:en]Combining the exhilaration of exploring the untamed African bush, with the thrill of doing something that you love, a horseback safari should be on every horse-lovers bucket list.

While riding in the wild is an incredible experience for both novice and experienced riders alike, nothing quite beats a long gallop across an open plain with the wind in your hair and sun in your face. It’s horse riding in its rawest, truest form.

Avid horse-riders, Lauren Bartholomew and her mum have been wanting to do a riding holiday for a while. Having heard about Ant’s Hill through In The Saddle, they decided to give it a go and were definitely not disappointed. Lauren shares a little more about her experiences at Ant’s Hill, which she calls ‘the holiday of a lifetime’:

“We wanted to do a riding holiday in South Africa that would have an adaptable itinerary in centrally based luxury accommodation and Ants fit the bill best. All of the reviews were positive which also helped our decision. It was our first trip to South Africa. I have been to Uganda before, and it has been a dream of my mum’s for a long time to visit Africa too.

horse riding safari waterbergOne of my favourite things about staying at Ant’s Hill was the friendly staff who ate meals with us and had so many interesting stories to tell. It made us feel like we were among friends. The riding was also obviously a favourite, especially when we were able to take part in a ‘fast and furious’ capture of a kudu for conservation purposes. It was great to see what actually goes in to obtaining the animals and then seeing one released afterwards was very special.

We were also able to feed the white rhino. It was magical to see these rare animals at such close range and even to touch them. In terms of the game we saw whilst riding, the giraffes were fabulous and they towered above the horses. I was also so thrilled that we got a chance to swim the horses as that is something I’d always wanted to do.

The views from Eagles Nest in the Hill were breath-taking and we were made to feel welcome and included from the moment that we arrived. The atmosphere was relaxed and we really liked the flexible approach to the itinerary. No two days were ever the same and we never rode the same route.

The chef was accommodating with my picky eating and you hardly went a few hours without food being on offer. The horses were great – responsive and forward going. My favourite was Masai and my mum’s was Madikwe. My mum was also very happy to have someone else do her washing! We would love to come back one day and I can see why you have a lot of repeat customers.”

[:de]A horse-rider’s holiday of a lifetime at Ant’s Hill
Combining the exhilaration of exploring the untamed African bush, with the thrill of doing something that you love, a horseback safari should be on every horse-lovers bucket list. While riding in the wild is an incredible experience for both novice and experienced riders alike, nothing quite beats a long gallop across an open plain with the wind in your hair and sun in your face. It’s horse riding in its rawest, truest form.
Avid horse-riders, Lauren Bartholomew and her mum have been wanting to do a riding holiday for a while. Having heard about Ant’s Hill through In The Saddle, they decided to give it a go and were definitely not disappointed. Lauren shares a little more about her experiences at Ant’s Hill, which she calls ‘the holiday of a lifetime’:
“We wanted to do a riding holiday in South Africa that would have an adaptable itinerary in centrally based luxury accommodation and Ants fit the bill best. All of the reviews were positive which also helped our decision. It was our first trip to South Africa. I have been to Uganda before, and it has been a dream of my mum’s for a long time to visit Africa too.

One of my favourite things about staying at Ant’s Hill was the friendly staff who ate meals with us and had so many interesting stories to tell. It made us feel like we were among friends. The riding was also obviously a favourite, especially when we were able to take part in a ‘fast and furious’ capture of a kudu for conservation purposes. It was great to see what actually goes in to obtaining the animals and then seeing one released afterwards was very special.

We were also able to feed the white rhino. It was magical to see these rare animals at such close range and even to touch them. In terms of game we saw whilst riding, the giraffes were fabulous and they towered above the horses. I was also so thrilled that we got chance to swim the horses as that is something I’d always wanted to do.

The views from Eagles Nest in the Hill were breath-taking and we were made to feel welcome and included from the moment that we arrived. The atmosphere was relaxed and we really liked the flexible approach to the itinerary. No two days were ever the same and we never rode the same route.

The chef was accommodating with my picky eating and you hardly went a few hours without food being on offer. The horses were great – responsive and forward going. My favourite was Masai and my mum’s was Madikwe. My mum was also very happy to have someone else do her washing! We would love to come back one day and I can see why you have a lot of repeat customers.”
[:]

Fairy-Tale Wedding at Ants

By | The Ant's Experience
[:en]The rugged wilderness and dramatic landscapes of the Waterberg is the ideal setting for any romantic celebration, and especially perfect for a fairy-tale destination wedding.

Combining spectacular scenery with our incredibly intimate accommodation options, traditional dancers, gourmet cuisine and horseback riding, a wedding at Ant’s Nest and Ant’s Hill Bush Homes brings every little girl’s fairy-tale to life.

waterberg wedding with horses

Destination Wedding in the Waterberg:
The most obvious benefit of having a destination wedding is that it’s a great excuse to not invite every distant relative and long-lost school friends. As travel and accommodation are involved, guest lists need to be selective, making it a far more intimate experience all round.

Those that are willing to travel will be rewarded. The Waterberg is one of the most scenic areas in South Africa and thus makes for a spectacular holiday destination. If you’re planning on travelling with a big enough group, you could even book out the entire lodge.

For the big day, instead of a traditional church or hall, you can opt to be married on the top of a mountain, or under a shady Acacia tree. A late morning ceremony will be rewarded with spectacular views in the African sun, or you can say your ‘I do’s’ in the late afternoon, as the sun sets over the Waterberg, followed by a dinnertime celebration. In addition to having the ceremony outdoors, your reception can also take place in the bush.

destination wedding ant's nest and ant's hill bush homes

If you love horses, you can choose to arrive on horseback, or even do you photoshoot with the horses. Horses exude a sense of mystery and romance and adding them to your wedding day can be so special. To make your ceremony extra special you can also opt to be serenaded by a local Africa choir, live band or even just the gentle sounds of nature.

wedding with horses south africa

Last but not least, one of the most wonderful benefits of being wed in the Waterberg is the breathtaking photo opportunities. From taking a helicopter to the highest peak to being photobombed by rhinos, your wedding photos are guaranteed to be gorgeous.

rhinos in wedding photo ant's nest and ant's hill bush homes

Let us make your fairy-tale dreams come true! Get in touch with us to start planning your perfect destination wedding.[:]

Chomping at the Bit for a Horseback Safari

By | The Ant's Experience
[:en]

“The essential joy of being with horses is that it brings us in contact
with the rare elements of grace, beauty, spirit, and freedom.”
~ Sharon Ralls Lemon

There are many ways to experience the African bush, but few are quite as intimate, and simultaneously exhilarating, as a horseback safari. It is a unique experience that bridges the gap between man and nature.

Here are 10 reason swap four-wheeled safaris for four-legged adventures and discover Africa from horseback:

1. Horseback safaris are quiet and unobtrusive, allowing riders to get very close to wildlife without disturbing them.

2. Unlike game vehicles, horseback safaris are eco-friendly and do not contribute to noise and fume pollution in wilderness areas.

3. Being on horseback gives you more freedom to explore areas of the bush that are inaccessible by vehicle.

4. The photo opportunities are Instagram-worthy!

5. The pace is slower, allowing you to appreciate all the little aspects that are usually missed in a vehicle.

6. Sundowner rides in the afternoon are a truly spectacular way to wind down after a day in the bush.

7. Horseback safaris give you the opportunity to become a part of nature’s ‘play’, rather than just part of the audience.

8. The guides are excellent and passionate about their jobs.

9. You don’t need to be an experienced rider to take part as the horse are very well trained and the guides are always there to assist.

10. It’s more fun than sitting in a game vehicle!

So what are you waiting for? Book your stay with us and come and experience the horseback safari of a lifetime![:de]Chomping at the Bit for a Horseback Safari
“The essential joy of being with horses is that it brings us in contact
with the rare elements of grace, beauty, spirit and freedom.”
~ Sharon Ralls Lemon

There are many ways to experience the African bush, but few are quite as intimate, and simultaneously exhilarating, as a horseback safari. It is a unique experience that bridges the gap between man and nature.

Here are 10 reason swap four-wheeled safaris for four-legged adventures and discover Africa from horseback:

1. Horseback safaris are quiet and unobtrusive, allowing riders to get very close to wildlife without disturbing them.

2. Unlike game vehicles, horseback safaris are ecofriendly and do not contribute to noise and fume pollution in wilderness areas.

3. Being on horseback gives you more freedom to explore areas of the bush that are inaccessible by vehicle.

4. The photo opportunities are Instagram-worthy!

5. The pace is slower, allowing you to appreciate all the little aspects that are usually missed in a vehicle.

6. Sundowner rides in the afternoon are a truly spectacular way to wind down after a day in the bush.

7. Horseback safaris give you the opportunity to become a part of nature’s ‘play’, rather than just part of the audience.

8. The guides are excellent and passionate about their jobs.

9. You don’t need to be an experienced rider to take part as the horse are very well trained and the guides are always there to assist.

10. It’s more fun than sitting in a game vehicle!

[:]

Swimming with Horses

By | The Ant's Experience
[:en]Watching horses thundering across open plains and charging up hillsides is always a sight to behold.

It’s hard to believe that in all their majestic power and glory, horses can be reduced to overexcited pawing ponies at the sight of a puddle. Blowing bubbles, splashing the water with their front hooves, and even dropping down for a good roll, are a few of the things that many horses love to do when given the opportunity to go swimming.

At Ant’s Nest and Ant’s Hill Bush Homes, swimming with your steed is a regular activity. Not only do the horses really enjoy it, but it is also a great way to cool off after a long ride through the Waterberg wilderness.

Ant’s Hill guest, Emma Jordan, spent a few days with Ants enjoying some quality time with her mother and two-year-old daughter. Here is an excerpt from her blog, published on Portfolio Collection, sharing her experiences about swimming with horses:

“I look across at Carol and her face is a mix of trepidation and confusion. She’s sitting on a bay horse in a grey swimming costume. I’m also in a costume on my piebald mare and I’m feeling exactly what Carol’s expression is saying. We’ve ridden three hours through the bush, passing giraffe, zebra, eland, blesbok, antelope and kudu, finishing the last kilometre with a canter over burning sand and rocks. Topping the crescent of a hill, we stop by a dam. Here, we’re told to dismount, take off the saddles, strip our riding gear and remount. We do as we’re told and get back on sweaty horses, waiting at the shoreline. It’s at this point I spy Carol’s lucid look.

I got the brief late last night: “Emma, you need to take a swimming costume on your ride tomorrow,” whispered my mother as she returned from supper. I didn’t quite believe her until the conversation at breakfast confirmed we’d be swimming with our steeds.

Swimming with horses? Yes, it’s just one of many activities the extraordinary management team offer guests who are lucky enough to experience Ant’s Hill.

Only 3 hours from Joburg in the malaria-free Waterberg, the first Ant’s lodge, Ant’s Nest, was opened in 1996. Seven years later, a second lodge, Ant’s Hill, was built and together they offer a safari experience that is at once entirely decadent and absolutely comfortable.

The primary attraction is horse-riding. Close to fifty* horses live out here and enable riders to get seriously close to a multitude of game. Consequently, the reserve is lion and elephant-free (although day-trips can be organised to neighbouring big-five reserves) – and besides riding, guests can go on long walks and mountain bike rides. Even the little ones can pony ride through the bush or go on exciting bug walks, keeping their eyes peeled for chameleons, ant lions and dung beetles. And, unlike some luxury accommodation, toddlers, tots and teens are all most welcome – in fact, everyone is welcome. Families, couples, singles. Ant’s Hill really is one of those rare places that lives up to the ‘leave as family’ tagline.

And the horsey swimming – was it really something to worry about? Absolutely not, these horses know what they’re doing. Five hundred metres in with water lapping around our waists, we looked like kids at the carnival with smiles stretching from ear to ear. Undoubtedly, this was the most unbelievable ride of our lives.”

*Since Emma’s visit, our herd has grown to over 90 horses living on the property. 

Read Emma’s full article about her experience with us here: https://www.portfoliocollection.com/travel-blog/beating-around-the-bush-at-ant-s-hill[:]