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Face to face with an elephant in camp is an encounter I never expected to experience on my first day at Selati Game Reserve. One of my goals this year is to spend as much time in nature as possible, so when I got the invite from EcoTraining to spend a few days with their latest intake of students who have just started doing their FGASA 1 year Professional Field Guide course, I jumped at the opportunity.

There’s a feeling of connected-ness with nature that I’ve rarely encountered elsewhere. Most of us live in a fast-paced world of cities; cars, jobs and money so to be able to spend time in one of Africa’s wild places, slow the pace down a bit and share some learning experiences with like-minded individuals is a dream come true.  If living life by being true to one-self is what you are after, or you’re look-ing for a career in nature, then doing one of EcoTrainings’ many courses will stand you in good stead.

The students forming part of the 2016 intake come from a wide variety of backgrounds. Interestingly most come from South Africa, but others have come from England, Germany, Netherlands and Namibia. While some already have degrees in zoology and are looking for careers in the industry through rehabili-tation of wildlife or as professional field guides, others have only just left school.

The energy from the students on the course is contagiously high. Much of the physical elements of the course are dealt with in the morning when this energy is at its highest. Most mornings encompass walks in the reserves to gain knowledge and practical experience on the subject at hand as well as drives in open vehicles to simulate talking to tourists on these drives. Each day is a learning experience.

What to expect

When I arrived, the students were busy completing four days of Wilderness First Aid. First Aid is one of the most impor-tant modules the students get taught. Due to the nature of their environment; the fact that all activities are conducted in the bush; the students need to know how to handle an emergency medical situation, should one arise. For example, they will learn the procedures which need to be followed in the event of an elephant gorging a tourist. They will learn how to stabilise the patient and evacuate them to a point where paramed-ics can transport them by road or air to a hospital for further care…



South Africa's West Coast

SOUTH AFRICA’S WEST COAST - Paradise for adventure and nature enthusiasts

Charming fishing villages, fresh seafood, vast carpets of colourful flowers and the spectacular Cederberg mountain range are all synonymous with the West Coast of South Africa. Spanning over 400km from Malmesbury in the south to Bitterfontein in the north, the Cape West Coast offers visitors an opportunity to explore a diverse range of landscapes, scenery and adventure activities.

The Swartland region of the West Coast is situated only an hour’s drive north of Cape Town.  This area boasts some wonderful wine farms which pro-duce top quality wines with most of the farms offering the public an opportunity to do some wine tasting.

The Cape West Coast Peninsula region

Stretching from the Berg River in the south and incorporating the West Coast National Park this region is an adventure and nature lover’s paradise. Quaint, picturesque fish-ing villages and Langebaan lagoon make this a popular watersport haven. Boardsailing, windsurfing, kitesurfing, sea kayaking, diving and fishing, as well as whale watching in season are all very popular.

For nature lovers the West Coast National Park is home to over 300 different species of bird, vast species of protected fynbos and an array of wildlife including eland, red hartebeest, and gemsbok and mountain zebra.


Wildside 20 Family Getaways


South Africa is undeniably a great family getaway destination with many fantastic well run holiday resorts, self-catering accommodation, lodges and hotels to choose from. The biggest decision one has to make when deciding on where to go for your family vacation is whether you want to spend it in the mountains, by the sea or in the bush. In this feature we hope to help you with that decision showcasing Wildside’ choice of the Top 20 Family getaways.

Cape St Francis

Situated just 90min from Port Elizabeth, Cape St Francis provides a selection of accommodation options from the conventional hotel, to luxury holiday homes as well as self-catering options.

Activities include surfing, kite-surfing, surf ski, canoe paddling, hiking and golf....

Club Mykonos

Club Mykonos is a family resort situated on the picturesque Langebaan Lagoon, on the Cape West Coast. Three differ-ent self-catering options each with spectacular views of the lagoon are available. The resort has its own gym, tennis courts, AstroTurf and mini golf....


Wildside Selected Places


In this edition of our annual, Selected Places feature, Wildside explores a variety of selected lodges. Each of the lodges, whether they are mountain, game, lake or eco lodges have been chosen because they each have their own unique quality. They may be situated in a stunning location, offer superb accommodation or have wonderful activities for guests to enjoy. Some are perfect for spending family time together and others offer the promise of a romantic getaway.

Whatever your idea of a special getaway is we hope you find your own personal “Selected Place”.

DRAKENSBERG - Montusi Mountain Lodge

There is a place in KZN where the towering cliffs of the Amphitheatre Mountain create a backdrop to a peaceful valley of rolling foothills and natural forests.  Here one finds Montusi Mountain Lodge, situated on a thousand hectares of private conservation area, offering a precious mix of space, comfort and peace to discerning guests from the world over.  

Developed, owned and managed by the Carte Family, the Montusi Experience draws on three generations of Drakensberg hospitality to provide guests with an unparalleled mountain getaway: warm hosts, happy staff, stunning views and excellent attention to detail combine to make a relaxed atmosphere where guests can unwind or adventure.

Free-standing suites are scattered among indigenous gardens where birds thrive:  Right from each unit’s private patio, birders can spot all kinds of species, while a short walk to the dams or the forest rewards with many more...




MOZAMBIQUE - Southern Africa’s tropical playground

Picture long lazy days relaxing on white sandy beaches, listen to the rustle of palms swaying in a gentle breeze while you gaze at an azure blue ocean that stretches as far as the eye can see. This is Mozambique, an ever popular playground for families, groups of friends, couples and honeymooners.

Southern Mozambique is easily accessi-ble from South Africa by road or by air. Approximately 630km from Johannesburg or 460km from Durban by car or a quick one hour flight from either Johannesburg or Durban to Maputo from where most of the resorts offer transfers.  

The most popular time for travel to southern Mozambique is from April to September when whale watching is a popular attraction or in the summer months from October to December when the turtles come onto the beach to lay their eggs.

A wide range of activities

A holiday in southern Mozambique offers some-thing for everyone with most Mozambique beach resorts offering a range of watersport activities including snorkelling, wind surfing, fishing, sail-ing and kite surfing. It’s also a diving and surfing hotspot and for those looking for a more relaxed vacation, a stroll along sun kissed beaches is sure to revitalise the soul.


Midlands Meander

Fam-tastic Midlands Meander

The Midland Meander is made up of five different sightseeing routes in the midlands of Kwazulu Natal. Easily accessible off the N3 highway and only an hour out of Durban the Midlands Meander offers a wonderful weekend away or family day out. If you’ve only got limited time plan your trip carefully and we suggest you try stick to one route so that you can make the most of your day.

Adventure and mystery

Intrigue and mystery awaits in Howick. Legend has it that a giant serpent like crea-ture with a horse like head lives in the pools at the bottom of Howick Falls. The Zulu’s in the area call it the Inkanyamba and it is believed that when he gets angry he brings stormy weather to the area.  From a vantage point above the falls the family can take great delight in trying to spot this legendary creature in the depths below.

From the falls make your way 1km downriver to the WESSA (Wildlife and Environment Society of South Africa) Umgeni Valley Nature reserve. Umgeni Valley Nature Reserve is one of the largest non-governmental environmental educa-tion projects in South Africa, with thou-sands of students participating in courses each year. Spend some time exploring one of the six different walking trails on the reserve trying to spot some of the over 270 recorded species of bird or test your animal tracking skills by getting a spoor sheet from reception that includes illustrations of the animals to be  found in the reserve.



Wildlands Conservation Trust

Blood Lions film secures local and global distribution

The producers of the feature film Blood Lions, Wildlands and Regulus Vision, are pleased to announce that they have secured both local and global distribution for the film, Blood Lions.

PBS International have picked up the global rights to the film, and will be distributing the film worldwide, outside of South Africa. Indigenous Film Distribution will handle the South African rights.

Blood Lions follows acclaimed environmental journalist and safari operator Ian Michler, and Rick Swazey, an American hunter, on their journey to uncover the realities about the multimillion-dollar predator breeding and canned lion hunting industries in South Africa. It is a story that blows the lid off all the conservation claims made by the breeders and hunters in attempting to justify what they do.

Tom Koch, Vice President of PBS International: “Blood Lions is a rare program that reveals the dark and brutal side of trophy hunting in Africa. Programs like this are equally rare and exceptional and should be seen by audiences around the globe. We are proud to represent this film to the international community.”

Helen Kuun of Indigenous Film Distribution: “We are honoured to be able to showcase the film on the big screen to audiences around South Africa over the next few months. As part of the awareness campaign it is of great importance to create a way for audiences and media alike to interact with the film in a cinema environment. The DVD will be available next year.”


Restoration & Rejuvination - Spa Feature

Experience the wonder of total relaxation at one of these three spas which are situated in some of the most beautiful locations in South Africa. Whether it’s the old world charm of the KZN Midlands, the breath-taking views of the Wild Coast or the allure of the African bush, these tranquil and serene sanctuaries provide the ideal escape from the stresses of life and will leave you feeling rested and rejuvenated.

Ghost Mountain Inn

Reconnect your soul with nature at the Ghost Mountain Inn and Spa, set at the foot of the legendary Ghost Mountain in Mkuze, northern KwaZulu Natal.  

This intimate and beautiful hotel is the ideal location from which to explore the rich natural and cultural diversity of this region or to take time out to restore your body and mind with our signature Terres d’Afrique body treatments.  Using responsibly sourced, organic African plant ingredients these treatments are designed for deep relaxation and to awaken the body’s senses.  Alternatively enjoy professional Dermalogica facial treatments.  

Combine this with time in the steam room and a plunge in the private rock pool or simply enjoy the prolific birdlife in the indigenous gardens.  The Ghost Mountain Inn offers a variety of accommodation packages that combine spa treatments with safaris such as a boat cruise on Lake Jozini or a game drive in Mkhuze game reserve.

Granny Mouse Country House and Spa…


Set Sail at Lake Jozini

If you’re looking for a mountain biking adventure with a difference, why not try the new biking package that is offered as part of the Shayamanzi Houseboat experience at Lake Jozini?

This is the perfect chance to take on the scenic lakeside terrain of the Pongola Game Reserve with the added bonus of a stay aboard a houseboat and a stint of tiger fishing and game viewing to round off the trip. Mountain bikers board Shayamanzi from Jozini Tiger Lodge at lunch time and head out for an afternoon cruise. Bikes are stored on a custom made undercover bike rack on the back upper deck.

The boat moors for the night at Hippo Bay and you can enjoy the afternoon fishing and drinking sun downers, followed by a scrumptious meal prepared by the on board chef. The next day starts bright and early. After optional early morning fishing followed by breakfast, bikers depart for the southern shore jetty. There are two distance options from which to choose, that of 25km or a 42km round trip. After which, lunch will be served on board Shayamanzi.

Routes are predominantly along the shoreline so that game can be viewed from a safe distance – but we do take detours when we encounter elephant, rhino or a herd of buffalo. All riders are accompanied by a qualified ranger as well as a mountain bike guide to assist with any mechanical issues. Only tubeless tyres with tyre sealant are allowed to ensure that there are no puncture stops.




Wildside Photographic Competition Winner

The winner is Clint Ralph for this entry of a buffalo with natural backlighting captured shaking it's head. The image captred the attention of the public and scored very highly when it came to public votes. With the team of judges voting for this as the winning image, it sealed the deal for Clint.

There was a huge number of superb entries into this year’s photographic competition - no doubt because of the exquisite prize of a once in a lifetime trip to the iconic Sabi Sabi Private Game Reserve to experience a top class safari. The prize includes flights from Federal Air and is valued at more than R60 000.

The judges included Jacques Smit the Marketing Director of Sabi Sabi Private Game Reserve, Wildside Editor Liz Cox, and former publishers of Wildside and accomplished photographers Jennifer and Eddie Crawford.

Commenting on the reason for his selection of the winning photograph Jacques said: “The image that we chose shows photographic creativity. There is much detail of the buffalo and the whole mood is very intuitive and extremely well timed.”

Jacques went on to say that Sabi Sabi, has the perfect backdrop for phenomenal photography opportunities and as such thought it fitting to be the sponsor of the photographic competition that inspires capturing images of our natural world.

Commenting on the reason for their choice, Jennifer and Eddie Crawford believe said: “Good lighting is always captivating and here the backlighting adds drama to an image that is not only technically good, but is also spontaneous and has movement and that makes for an image you want to look at.”


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