Discovery Trails facilitates very special wilderness encounters in the magnificent Makuleke/Pafuri area of the Greater Kruger National Park. These are conducted through three eco-tourism organisations active there: EcoTraining, ReturnAfrica and The Outpost.
Discovery Trails is an initiative aimed at promoting conservation in the Makuleke/ Pafuri area of the Greater Kruger National Park. It supports all the lodges and organisations active in the Makuleke Contract Park, and through them the owners of the land, the Makuleke people.
Those behind Discovery Trails are a number of individuals who have been trained up by EcoTraining or other FGASA-accredited bodies and who regularly act as trail guides in the area: Clive Thompson, Johna Turner, Jody Cole and Rhodes Bezuidenhout.
Johna, Jody and Rhodes also conduct safaris and tours independently under their respective brands.
You can see much more from the back of a vehicle. That’s true. You do see more big game from a bus, Land Rover and even an ordinary car. If you’re driving through a valley and there is “nothing” in it, five minutes later you’re into the next landscape, with the chance of seeing something big or numerous. And game is generally unperturbed by vehicles – they trigger no primordial alarms. So you can get really close.
But while you may see more, you can’t hear, smell or feel the bush. Nor can you read the detail: the tracks, the little things, the sequences and patterns. Nor can you sit on a rocky outcrop or under a giant fig tree. In fact you cannot experience Africa or your origins unless you take on the savannah, the forests, the gorges and their creatures physically; unless you immerse yourself without barriers.
To get the pulse, you need to have all your senses switched on in concert. You need to search, and sometimes you need to hide. You need to sweat a little to raise the heart rate – from exertion, and from apprehension.
That’s what elephant, lions, blue waxbills, dung beetles, tortoises and termites are really all about. You earn your special encounters, you earn a quenched thirst. You gain a lasting sense of camaraderie from being there with friends, new and old.
A trail is a whole body and mind thing.
And night time in an unfenced bush camp is another special theatre. The campfire entrances, the night sounds imprint.
Other outfits may promise you sightings of all the Big Five in your 48-hour swoop-in, swoop-out stay. We promise to tune you in over about the same time. And to reset your senses over several days, better still a week. You may not see all the Big Five in your time at Makuleke, although they are all there. But you will feel them, and many others, great and small: see their signs and tracks; hear them, smell them, perhaps even encounter them on a walk. We offer immersion, not sightings.