The Ant Collection – Ants Hill
After spending 4 fabulous days at Ant’s Hill, it’s easy to see how people fall in love with the place and keep coming back year after year.
Following 10 months of living on different continents, my mum – Fiona – finally made it out to South Africa, for a horse safari with The Ant Collection. Fiona is not a massively strong rider but I’d been told that Ant’s Nest and Ant’s Hill catered for all riding abilities and have plenty of activities for non-riders.
It’s safe to say, we were extremely impressed with Ant and Tessa Baber’s set up; their wonderful property and reserve provided the perfect setting for some much needed mother-daughter catch up time!
The top 6 highlights:
1. The Horses
Having not been on a horse for over 10 years, Fiona was a little nervous about horse riding at Ant’s Hill and mounting up! However, she was given a lovely horse – Chundu – who was perfect, a real confidence giver. He was happy to trot and canter along at a steady pace, without racing after the others or getting strong.
I rode several different horses; a couple of feisty arabs and a thoroughbred. I was very impressed with the condition and behaviour of the horses. With over 90 four-legged friends on the property, there was something for everyone.
The general routine was; whichever horse you rode in the afternoon, you would then ride again the following morning, before swapping once more to someone new after lunch. This was great as it meant the horses were always up for the ride and only ever went out once a day.
2. The Riding
Long sandy tracks, open plains and interesting thicker bush makes brilliant going for the horses and thoroughly enjoyable riding.
I was particularly impressed with how our guide – Jan – dealt with the different riding abilities of Fiona and I. He made sure we were all happy with the pace and sometimes split the group up so that those who wanted to, could have a good blast!
3. The Wildlife
The variety of wildlife on the Ant’s property is extremely impressive. We ended up seeing buffalo, rhino, kudu, sable, black-backed jackal and many more plains game species from the saddle.
Get Closer in the Saddle
It’s amazing how much closer you can get to the game from horseback, they see the horses as fellow grazers and therefore aren’t intimidated by our presence – allowing for some breathtakingly close encounters!
Cantering around the corner to find a sea of zebra, or sneaking through the thickets into the midst of over 15 giraffe, makes for some very special horse safari experiences.
Up Close with Rhino
Ant and Tessa also do brilliant work with Save the Waterberg Rhino, and the reserve provides sanctuary for around 10 rhino. A lovely highlight of the trip was getting to visit the rhino at Ant and Tessa’s house and watch as they came in to be fed.
4. The Setting
Set in the spectacular malaria-free Waterberg region, just a 3 hour drive from Johannesburg International Airport, the reserve covers 12,500 acres of pristine and enchanting wilderness.
The 2 properties, Ant’s Hill and Ant’s Nest, are set within the reserve and are one morning’s ride apart – making a great all day ride from one to the other.
The Horses Can Roam Freely – What a Life
The horses roam freely on the reserve alongside the wildlife. As a result, when you stop for sundowners after a thrilling day in the saddle, you can simply hop down from your horse, take off their saddle and bridle and let them go.
It’s a wonderful sight watching the happy horses wander off into the sunset, making their own way back for dinner at the stables.
5. The Accommodation
Turning the Stay from Brilliant to Sensational
For me, the immeasurable attention to detail and stylish accommodation was what turned our stay at Ant’s, from brilliant to totally sensational. On the first day, mum and I were shown to our accommodation – World’s View Cottage – and as soon as the door was shut, we jumped around like excited children, not quite able to believe that this was where we were staying!
Designed by Tessa herself, and showcasing her exceptional taste and the influence of her Kenyan upbringing, the accommodation is extremely impressive.
Possibly the Best Bath in the World
6. The Value
Luxury Without the Usual Price Tag
Based on the excellent riding and exceptional accommodation, a trip to Ant’s is great value for money. You experience wonderful and luxurious touches and service, at very reasonable and manageable prices in the African safari market.
This is a riding holiday that welcomes the whole family and is brilliant fun even for non-riders. My mum thoroughly enjoyed her stay, despite not being the most confident or frequent rider, she loved the horse experiences but also enjoyed afternoons by the pool, indulging in a full-body massage and being taken on a guided bush walk.