Makuleke Wilderness Skills Course
MAKULEKE CONCESSION, KRUGER NATIONAL PARK
IN ASSOCIATION WITH ECOTRAINING
2014 departure date:
25th - 30th July
25th - 30th July
A unique opportunities to explore possible the last remaining wilderness region in South Africa.
It is not a product you would find at a regular travel agent, or on a commercial safari website – it may be physically demanding or uncomfortable at times. But what is guaranteed is an unparalleled connection with the spirit of the wild …the spirit which we believe still lives in us all.
By going back to the basics … exploring uncharted land … drinking ‘wild river water’ … tracking big game … sleeping under the stars, you are not only exploring the stunning wilderness regions of Makuleke, but also exploring the wildness of your own soul. On completion, a deep sense of achievement results.
The expedition is surely one of the most rewarding, stirring, emotional, uplifting, exciting, surprising and invigorating wilderness contacts in the country!
Join us for a once in a lifetime walking adventure
Sleep wild under the stars – no tents
Follow the legendary Limpopo River tracking big game on foot
Fully backpacked and self contained
Are you ready to push your boundary in the bush?
A stirring wilderness experience awaits
A game drive is like seeing a movie
But a wilderness quest is like reading the book
Personally led by Alan McSmith
25 years wilderness experience
For the 5 night/6 days:
* Excludes trail or freeze dried meals ... please contact us for our menu suggestions.
* Bring your own food or we can supply at extra cost
* Each participant is responsible for camping and catering equipment
* Remember … you pack - you carry!
* Please contact us for a detailed bring-list
* Starts at the Levubu River Bridge at Pafuri in Kruger in the afternoon of day 1
* Ends at the bridge mid-morning on day 6
* Safe parking is provided for the duration
* The course is done entirely on foot and we sleep in the open.
* Our route takes us along the Limpopo or Levubu rivers, from which we draw drinking water.
* We have unlimited access to the vast Makuleke Concession from the Zimbabwean border to the Levubu River.
* Please contact us for accommodation ideas and suggestions for before and after.
The Makuleke Concession
The Makuleke concession is located between the Limpopo Rivers (the Zimbabwe border) in the north and east, the Levubu River to the south and western boundary of the Kruger National Park. Controlled by the Makuleke Tribal Authority in conjunction with the SA National Parks, we work closely with guide training company called Ecotraining with whom we operate the expeditions. The region consists of over 20 000 hectares of wilderness, uncharted valleys, lush riverine bush, rugged gorges and remote floodplains … ideal wilderness country. A variety of game, including large herds of elephant and buffalo, lion, eland, antelope and smaller mammals frequent the region as well as many bird specials including Pel’s Fishing Owl, Lemon-breasted Canary and Three-banded courser.
We believe the Makuleke Concession to be the last true remaining outposts of true wilderness spirit in South Africa. This is why we choose to operate there
Meet at the Luvubu River Bridge in the north of the Kruger at a designated time.
The road to the bridge is tarred and is accessible from the Parks Board Camps in Kruger (for example Shingwedzi), or alternatively from the Pafuri entrance gate in the extreme north.
Drive to our designated parking spot, from the where the trail begins
Walk to campsite 1
Days 2 to 5:
Walk to selected campsites, fully contained with backpacks.
Depending on suitability of sites, we will more than likely spend nights 2 & 3 at the same spot and do day walks from there. All sites are rotated and used depending on the impact and trampling at the time.
Call for a vehicle pick up from our end-point from where we will be driven back to the car park.
A night at a luxury lodge in the concession can be arranged at extra costs.
What to expect:
We are totally secluded and will attempt to access as remote places as possible. We depart from our start point or base camp on foot, with all supplies carried in packs, and camp for the duration of the trail. Our first walk will take us to the site of campsite 1, where we break camp and prepare for the evening orientation.
Alcohol and carbonated drinks are not taken on trail (except where accommodation at base camps are arranged), and water, tea and coffee are supplied.
Campsites are carefully chosen for the amount of cover, visibility, evasion routes, shelter (if necessary), aesthetics and ecological integrity.
Sleeping spots are placed as sensitively and practically as possible in a tight group around the fire, which is the focal point of all camp sites.
The use of firewood is very well managed, and no large fires are permitted. A minimal size for cooking and nightwatches is STRICTLY adhered to, as the unnecessary waste of firewood goes against the trail ethic.
We leave no trace (NB!) The intention is to leave a campsite in as pristine condition as found. On departing a campsite, all coals are buried and discarded burnt logs carefully discarded, all flattened vegetation is raked, and our tracks and remnants of the campfire obliterated. All plastic and tins are removed and carried with us - what goes in must come out.
Toilet facilities consist of a good old shovel and we insist that all loo paper is buried in a shallow hole, and burnt before covering.
The days consist of either a morning walk in the vicinity of a campsite, or a trek to the following campsite, detouring according to animal signs.
Trails are exciting and invigorating contacts with nature, and big game. The emphasis however is not on a commercial checklist, but more of a holistic and spontaneous experience. Wilderness is about the sum of its parts, and the intention is to slow the pace down and focus on special moments, be they a herd of elephant, or steenbok scrape marks, the story of the buffalo-thorn or the tracks of animals.
What to expect on walks
Walks are not strenuous affairs or route marches, although in hot weather can become demanding. As a rule, we do not aim to cover any amount of ground nor do we have a fixed route – the walks are planned spontaneously according to any animal movements or sounds. There will be frequent rest stops or even siestas.
In order to pick up any warning signals, and as well as to hide our presence as best as possible, we insist that while on the move, trailists walk in silence. Regular pauses to stop and discuss the ecology or to share thoughts are encouraged.
What to bring:
Participants are requested to supply their own expedition equipment. A list is as follows:
Small kerosene cooker with spare gas bottle
Small saucepan or billy to cook in
Spoon and fork
75 litre backpack
Strong LED flashlight
2 x 1 litre waterbottles
Personal 1st aid kit
Hat and sunscreen
Notebook and pen
Sense of adventure
Small portable water filtration device
2 pairs of neutral coloured shorts and shirt
One par tracksuit longs
Fleece (depending on weather)
Raincoat (depending on weather)
Good pair walking boots or sneakers
We are gladly willing to assist in acquiring these items on your behalf.
Please bear in mind that space in the backpack is limited, and that overloading with excess weight is highly uncomfortable … what you bring, you carry!
These basic provisions are not meant to emulate any military training, but are intended to show how superfluously we often live.
Due to the lack of facilities, we rely on freeze dried camping meals and convenient combinations. A summary is:
Breakfasts: Instant oat porridge, muesli tea/coffee
Lunches: Freeze dried tuna and biscuits
Dinners: Freeze dried meals such as thai chicken, pastas, bobotie etc.
Snacks: Peanuts, biscuits, dried fruit
Extras: Rehydrate, juice mixers, tea, coffee, sugar, milk powder
We can purchase a suitable menu on your behalf (costs are excluded from the expedition rate).
All cooking and drinking water is drawn from the rivers or springs on the concession.
It is possible to combine the expedition (before and after) with a stay at one of the Kruger Park’s camps. The closest camps to the start and end point are Punda Maria and Shingwedzi, with access on good tarred and well marked roads. The closest entry point into Kruger is the Pafuri gate.
It is also possible to arrange luxury accommodation within the Makuleke concession before or after the expedition … please contact us for more details.
We provide safe parking for self-drives for the duration of the expedition.
A guided safari through the Kruger on route, or a shuttle service is also available.
We are in constant radio back up with our base at the Ecotraining Camp in Makuleke. In the vent of an emergency we will be able to call in a vehicle support as well as co-ordinate a medical helicopter evacuation.
Please bear in mind however, that as is the spirit of expeditionary travel, our movements on foot are restricted and after-dark walking is not possible, except in the event of an emergency.
Although Alan carries a basic first aid kit, the onus is on trailists to ensure any personal medicine or needs are taken care of. It is simply impossible to cater for any eventuality, and the mobility and philosophy of a trail dictates that we will enter wild and remote country. It is vital that any dietary requirements or physical restrictions are communicated with our office way before the trail departure.
Neutral or pastel coloured clothes
While walking, it is crucial to blend into our surroundings as best as possible. The most effective way is to wear neutral coloured clothes (khaki) and hats. It is a very important point so please bear this in mind.
Night watches are in place where each one of us takes a turn to sit at the fire, aware of any animal visitors which come through the camp site. Most importantly, alone with the flames and one's thoughts, these vigils offer wonderful and powerful moments of reflection. It is a time of recognition and acceptance, not only of the shadows around the fire, but of those inhabiting the darker corners of our own selves. The serenity is spellbinding and one wakes feeling refreshed, energised and alive, quite possibly, more alive than ever before.
Personal comfort zones
We operate in remote wilderness containing most of Africa’s big game species. Our camps are basic, and electronic devices, cell phones and watches are prohibited. Often the trail may be out of contact with the outside world, and is totally reliant on the guide/s. Stepping out of our day to day comfort zones and relying on others is an important component of a wilderness experience.
Remote wilderness which is untouched by man’s noise, visual or light pollution offers the most profound of encounters. These encounters are diluted with every road, artificial sound or light that we come across, and we are constantly striving to deliver the purest possible wilderness experiences.
Silence is a cornerstone where participants are encouraged to remain as quiet and attentive as possible. It is vitally important while walking to move in silence in order to hear any animal sounds, and of course, to be able to blend into the bush as unobtrusively as possible.
All campsites are on or close to the Limpopo or Levubu Rivers, or natural springs. Filtration devices and treatment drops are supplied.
The more you explore wilderness, the more you explore your own self.