Hillary was lucky enough to go on a 3 day safari at the Ant Collection in South Africa’s scenic, game rich Waterberg. From incredible game encounters on horseback (the best way to see game) to a spectacular rhino show, Hillary returned with a renewed passion for the bush.
Her Ant safari story will leave you spellbound and longing for your next safari…
‘I’ve often heard that a bush getaway is not for everyone, but my recent visit to Ant’s Nest and Ant’s Hill turned that stigma upside down. An Ant’s visit is custom made to be everyone’s personal ideal safari. I’ve fallen head over heels for their piece of the African wilderness. Their two properties are the perfect blend of complex and simple with an added dose of family charm and bush views that extend as far as your eyes can see.
My boyfriend Greg and I had the luxury of staying at Ant’s Hill for 3 cheeky, sun-filled days and 2 crisp, but comfortably cool nights. Our first day started with a hearty buffet style lunch, with burgers that oozed with flavour and a hamburger bun you couldn’t mistake as homemade. Our bellies were full and energized, ready for an afternoon horse ride in our new backyard oasis; I liked to call my “bush-style playground.”
We are no expert horse riders, but that didn’t stop Greg and I or Ant’s Hill from catering to our novice needs. My horse Navasha, a natural beauty, was kind and gentle as we ventured through the private game reserve, taking in the sights and sounds, surrendering to the bushveld’s safari spell. Navasha was so good to me; I just had to claim her for the rest of my horse riding adventures.
The best way I can describe my first horseback safari is like jumping into a really good novel; you are instantly captivated into a foreign world where your senses are heightened and your heart and mind giddy with excitement, wishing to never bid the journey a farewell. While horseback riding amongst the African wildlife, time didn’t just stop, it didn’t exist (a concept that can be so foreign in our day to day lives).
My Ant’s Hill visit instinctively remedied this “live in the now motto”, being built above a spectacular gorge with views that could “wow” from miles away.
My favourite horseback safari was our morning ride from Ant’s Hill to Ant’s Nest. It was a beautifully scenic 2 ½ hour trail, with opportunity to view the abundant game home to the private reserve. I was fully absorbed in each moment watching the impala, sable, buffalo, and zebra go about their everyday wildlife antics. There was no fear between the horses and general game, allowing for some remarkable game sightings.
I spied a giraffe in our near future and our horses merrily traversed off the beaten path to get a better view. Before I could say the word giraffe, we were sandwiched between seven of our fellow tall, 4-legged friends. I couldn’t help but think, “This is a spectacle that horse riding safaris revel over game drives.”
The wonderment didn’t stop after the riding was finished for the day because we returned to our evening retreat, appropriately named, “The Lookout.” It’s a bedroom with charm written all over it; rustic rock architecture, tall thatched ceilings, an en-suite bathroom with a vantage point bath tub, an outdoor shower overlooking the valley, and views that made my boyfriend and I feel like the size of an actual ant! My description of the room will not do this bush oasis justice, so these pictures will have to speak on my behalf:
I like to call day two our “rhino day” mostly because they stole the limelight. It was a day filled with off-roading in a 4×4 with our up-beat guide Sam, who fascinated us with his animal-calls and wealth of wilderness knowledge. It was shortly followed by sundowners at Ant and Tessa Baber’s (the owners) exquisite bush home with two tickets to a rhino show. Every evening, Ant and Tessa feed the rhinos a mixture of molasses and Lucerne to attract the big 5 beasts from wandering the outskirts of the reserve, where poaching is more of a danger.
The Baber’s backyard and extended wooden deck was our theatre for the evening and the rhinos were happily performing on their vast, wilderness stage. When the warthogs made headway towards the food, the wrath of the rhinos immersed, creating a dramatic twist to the once loveable creatures.
These creatures are magnificent, demonstrative, and such a rarity to witness in their natural surroundings. Usually the sunset, a cold beer, light snacks and good company make for a sundowner success, but the rhinos in all their glory made for an Emmy-winning night. To all of Ant’s rhinos, especially Skew, we thank you for the bush performance of a lifetime.
My new passion for the bush has been reignited by my Ant’s Nest and Ant’s Hill bushveld experience. I can also proudly say I now know how it feels to be as happy as a horse and as scared as a warthog being charged by a hungry rhino.’
The Ant Collection is also among the 2015 Safari Awards finalists. Watch this space to find out if they will be one of the lucky winners. The 2015 Safari Awards Party will take place on Sunday evening, 2nd November 2014, in London. During the evening the 2015 Safari Awards results will be announced, and the most outstanding safari lodges, camps, houses, mobile operations, guides and conservation individuals will be honoured.