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.
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.
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.
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.