Search

The Extraordinary Makuleke

As one ventures over the bridge straddling the Luvuvhu River into the Makuleke Concession, the landscape transforms into something extraordinary. Ancient Baobab trees fortify the rugged sandveld, groves of Lala Palms bow to the few stems that have shot skyward and stunted mopane thickets line the alluvial plains in orchard-like symmetry. Legions of elephant patrol this expansive kingdom, countless buffalo herds till the soil with marching intent and abundant nyalas glide around in elegant momentum.

Pel's Fishing Owl
Pel’s Fishing Owl in Makuleke (c) Ross Hawkins

This northern-most section of the Kruger National Park holds seventy-five percent of the biodiversity found in the region and is on the bucket-lists of keen birders and naturalists alike. Visitors come in search of a trove of endemic species like Pel’s Fishing Owl, Racket-Tailed Roller and Arnot’s Chat but almost always leave with so much more than just a pencilled check-list. And almost always leave a sliver of their soul behind.

The natural heritage and history of Makuleke is palpable. Once a trading corridor where distant travellers exchanged gold, animal skins and salt, this land continues to tell the tales of the traditional Makuleke people that once inhabited it and who now benefit greatly from its role in conservation.

Iconic Baobab specimens were not just trees to these people. They were cherished as more than just a source of food and medicine but as spiritual guides. Tribal elders shook trusting hands in their fibrous shade, the Makuleke Chief and his wife dwelled in one regal specimen’s hollowed-out cavity and rite-of-passage ceremonies were conducted in their proximity with the belief that this would pass strength and health to the growing young men.

Baobab Trees
Baobab Valley in the Makuleke (c) Etienne Ooshuizen
Kruger Game Drive
Game Drive in the Makuleke (c) Jessica Watt

It is against the backdrop of this magical place that the EcoTraining Camp is set. The camp itself resembles a tiny forest village. Each raised thatch and canvas tent claims one of the forest trees as its protector from the harsh heat. The tents are generously spacious with private bathrooms and outside decks overlooking the wilderness beyond. There is a constant concert of birdsong to accompany the tranquillity and many other animal heartbeats share the space of the unfenced camp. The main dining tent brings everyone together over hearty meals made with love and where life-long friends are made.

But not much time is spent in the tents as there is a magnetic pull to explore this area on foot or in open safari vehicles. EcoTraining’s twice-daily activities introduce students to the unforgettable beauty of the area with the additional privilege of facilitating an educational experience.


This special place carries an air of wisdom. It requests the best version of anyone visiting it, cradles one in raw beauty and leaves one with an instinctive desire to protect it. Thankfully, this magnificent places alongside EcoTraining’s vision to “reconnect people to nature” inspires a mighty force of wilderness guardians.

Limpopo River
Enjoying the view on the banks of the mighty Limpopo River (c) Jessica Watt

Want to learn more?

Do you want to know more about some of the special birds you could spot in the Makuleke? Try our EcoTraining Lowveld Birds Quiz. Or if you want to know more about the Kruger, we also have a Kruger Quiz. This beautiful paradise as you can feel is a once in a lifetime experience and definitely not to be miss. If this is something you are interested and want to be immersed in the wilds of the Northern Kruger National Park we have a few Easter Special running at the moment.

About the Author:
Picture of EcoTraining Pty Ltd

EcoTraining Pty Ltd

Explore more

two elephants in Mashatu
Blog

What the bush can teach us about humility

The elephant is getting close to the little ‘koppie’ we are sitting on; all of us are sitting incredibly still. We have yet to since our instructor shooed us up there when he realized the big bull—that we quietly observed only a few minutes before—was heading in our direction.

Read more
Blog

EcoTraining Celebrates World Environment Day

EcoTraining, a leading provider of professional field guides and nature training in Africa, proudly announces its commitment to World Environment Day. Our mission is to inspire individuals to connect with nature and become guardians of the environment. EcoTraining promotes conservation education and sustainable practices worldwide. We advocate for conservation education and sustainable practices.

Read more
students in nature with clipboards
Blog

Leading the Way to Higher Education in Ecotourism

Are you an aspiring nature guide looking to develop your skills and expertise? Look no further than EcoTraining, Africa’s leading safari and wildlife training institution. EcoTraining has achieved a groundbreaking milestone by becoming the first Guide Training School on the continent to receive accreditation from the Council for Higher Education (CHE) in South Africa.
Let us explain why this is such a significant achievement for EcoTraining and the Field Guiding Industry.

Read more

Start your wildlife career

Want to become a field or nature guide? Explore our immersive courses and training programmes for professional safari guides and guardians of nature, taught and led by experts in the industry.

EcoTraining offers career and accredited courses, wildlife enthusiast courses, gap year programmes and customised group travel courses.

Join our nature-loving community.