Jako enjoyed a visit to Ant’s Hill
One of our Safari experts, Jako Nagel, visited the malaria free Waterberg Game Reserve north of Johannesburg in South Africa. He stayed at the lovely Ant’s Hill next to the sister property of Ant’s Nest where he had the time to enjoy a wonderful horse back safari and more! Here is what he had to say about Ant’s Hill.
When I decided to visit the Waterberg region opting for a stay at Ant’s Hill came naturally. I knew that they offered beautiful appointed suites (or rather bush homes), had quite a reputation when it comes to their cuisine and that they offered amazing experiences through the African bush on horseback. What I did not know that this would be an experience that I would single out as one of the best I have experienced in my career as a Safari consultant.
See, Ant’s Hill is not about silver cutlery and award winning wines of the world, it is not about Egyptian cotton and Michelin stars – but rather to reconnect with Mother Nature, to be humbled by her beauty and to stand in awe of her greatness. The bush houses are stylishly fitted out with everything you need from a mini bar, fireplace and inside and outside shower, oversized bath tubs coffee and tea making facilities, veranda and colourful gowns. I loved the idea that the houses were built in quite a distance from each other – it really felt like I was the only one there making this the perfect destination for families with young children, honeymoon couples and even solo travellers.
The food at Ant’s Hill was a reflection of this amazing lodge. Food was cooked with passion and I could taste it with every bite! Breakfast and Dinner consist of a healthy spread of dishes to choose from and lunch include heavenly desserts. Al Fresco dining is offered if the weather plays along and the sprawling views of the Waterberg paired with tasty, honest food simply pairs beautifully. Dinner is a little more formal but exquisite – this is Friday the chef’s turn to show off with a great 3 course meal and opting for seconds just makes his day!
The activities at Ant’s Hill is off the beaten track and exciting. Except for the usual game drives and bush walks they offer horseback safaris, bush lunches, sundowners with rhinos and for the more adventurous – swimming with horses in the African bush. I have to be completely honest when I say that I have only been on a horse once before coming to Ant’s Hill and although I was extremely nervous – once I got the hang of it, I wanted to ride all day. Doing a horseback safari is so much different than your traditional safari experience. Animals allow you to get extremely close to them as they only pick up on the scent of the horse and not the humans. Suddenly you notice the smaller treasures of the bush and the smells and sounds mesmerize you like never before. Horseback safaris are offered for beginners to advance riders and you go at your pace and for how long you want ride – it’s your choice.
I was lucky enough to meet the owner of this beautiful reserve, Tessa. As we sat on the deck in front of her beautiful house sipping on G&T’s she shared with me the vision and the amazing story of Ant’s Hill and Ant’s Nest (Ants Nest is the second lodge in the reserve – perfect for exclusive use and families). As she spoke with great passion of her life in the bush and what she envisioned for the future – I immediately knew I am not simply dealing here with a person that owns and runs a lodge but with a conservationist and a mouthpiece for the less fortunate… the rhinos. Tessa heads up a fantastic initiative called Save the Waterberg Rhino and through empowering the communities surrounding the Waterberg reserves she have managed to make poaching numbers drop drastically. You will also have the opportunity to witness this reserve’s rhinos from the deck as they interact. Each rhino has a story and watching them interact you suddenly realise how vulnerable these majestic animals are.
My stay at Ant’s Hill was everything I have hoped for and so much more. I arrived a guest and left as a friend. It offers a great value for money, all inclusive experience and although not a big 5 reserve (they have 2 of the Big 5 and sometimes 3 , depending if a leopard passes through) they arrange day trips to the neighbouring Welgevonden game reserve for a thrilling Big 5 safari experience.
As I did my first horseback safari on my beautiful horse called Chicks whilst surrounded in silence I closed my eyes for a brief moment and thought of the words of E.M Forster – “there is only one perfect view — the view of the big blue sky straight over our heads”