South Africa Eco Ranger Experience

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9 Days
Availability : Saturday Departures
Johannesburg, Gauteng
Hoedspruit, Limpopo
Min Age : 16+

Be a ranger for a week while experiencing the magic of the northern Kruger National Park. This is an authentic life-changing adventure.  Engage in the basics of typical ranger training including practical bush booking and bush survival strategy.  Highlights include:

  • stargazing
  • animal tracking
  • bush sleep-out
  • survival skills
  • practical bush cooking
  • ‘big 5’ game viewing
  • birding
  • private lodging 

Please note that guests will have fun learning the basics of Ranger training in the African bush. The Ranger experience is NOT A FORMAL TRAINING PROGRAM; instruction is practical rather than in a formal classroom environment.  Lectures are, however, incorporated into the program and mostly restricted to safety briefs and formal instruction, which is no more than 60 minutes a day.  The minimum age for participation in this tour is 16 years.


The EcoTraining Makuleke Camp contributes to the Makuleke tribe (through Concession fees), and provides training to the community as part of its concession agreement – they select candidates from the community and train them with other paying students.

Once qualified they are placed within the lodges in Kruger as part of a job creation program. We also employ staff from the community at the lodge. (A good example of student training would be Norman that is now a trainer with us, having spent years in training and is one of our tracking and trailing trainers)

The lodge also employs staff from the community. (Read example of a successful student training would be about Norman who is now a trainer to others).  Norman is the first ever formally qualified African tracker assessor in South Africa.  



Breakfast (own arrangements at the hotel). Board a shuttle transfer from Johannesburg to Hoedspruit (included) via Dullstroom. The village of Dullstroom is South Africa’s premier fly-fishing destination. Lunch stop en-route (own account) and dine at the lodge (included). Timbavati Safari Lodge or similar – dinner, bed and breakfast (3-star)


Enjoy breakfast at the lodge. Guests transfer from the lodge to the Kruger National Park’s Pafuri Gate in the north-eastern corner of the Limpopo Province. Transfer from Pafuri Gate to the Makuleke Camp. Lunch at Makuleke Camp. Participants attend a safety briefing, an orientation of the camp, an introduction to the camp staff and an overview of the course material. Guests have leisure time to settle in before the afternoon’s practical activity either on a game drive or a bush walk. Makuleke Camp – dinner, lunch, breakfast and activities (3-star)

Day 3MAKULEKE CONCESSION - Basic ecology and geology

Meals are served at the camp and each day’s activities are divided into three sessions. Guests board a vehicle for a game drive or join a guided bush walk. The focus of the morning activity is on basic ecology and geology. Lanner Gorge is carved into the sandstone and although thought to be younger than 2 million years old, it’s an important feature in the Makuleke Concession. The landscape is ancient and is thought to date back more than 250 million years.

Around noon, guests partake in an interactive discussion with the instructor on geology and soils; weather and atmosphere; food web and energy flow; and habitat ecology and conservation. The Makuleke Concession of the ‘Pafuri Triangle’ is created by the intersection of the Limpopo and Luvuvhu rivers. The Limpopo, a dying river, is estimated to be more than 65 million years old. The Luvuvhu, a young river, has carved its way through the region’s sandstone to form Lanner Gorge.

Participants board a vehicle for a game drive or join a guided bush walk. Apart from elephant and buffalo, guests may see nyala, eland and Sharpe’s Grysbok not commonly seen elsewhere in Kruger. Guides will illustrate the theory discussed earlier in practical instruction, whilst out in the field. Guests are encouraged to apply these skills in an informal Q&A session whilst out in the field. Makuleke Camp – dinner, lunch, breakfast and activities (3-star)

Day 4MAKULEKE CONCESSION - Animal, bird and tree identification and behavior

During the morning game drive or guided bush walk, guests are introduced and exposed to the nuances of animal, bird and tree identification; essential skills for any avid outdoorsman. Guests are encouraged to engage with the instructor and join the interactive discussion on the finer details of animal, bird and tree identification during the noon session.

The Makuleke Concession is locally-renowned for five bird species resident in the area. With luck, you will see Pel’s Fishing-Owl, Three-banded Courser, Racket-tailed Roller, Bat Hawk and Black-throated Wattle-eye.

The afternoon game drive and walk will emphasize animal, bird and tree identification. Although Africa’s mega-fauna features highly on most participant’s lists, why not try and identify the more iconic trees in the concession? Find the muvuvhu (Venda) from which the Luvuvhu River gets its name; the nyala tree and the region’s iconic Adansonia digitate. Makuleke Camp – dinner, lunch, breakfast and activities (3-star)

Day 5MAKULEKE CONCESSION - Animal tracks and sleep-out and astronomy

This morning guests will walk the trails from camp focusing on animal tracks. This is wilderness immersion at its best. The science of animal tracking is, perhaps, the world’s oldest. This is an exclusive, hands-on experience.

Participate in an interactive discussion on the theories and practical application of tracking in the African bush. Tracking contributes to key insights on how animals behave. It’s an art that teaches observation, reasoning, and deduction. The discussion topic and practical application elements includes an introduction to basic tracks and trailing skills.

In the afternoon, guests focus on the key points of the day’s theory, and apply those principles either on a game drive or on a bush walk. Why not apply the theory of speculative tracking and try and anticipate the animals behavior?

This evening guests spend the night in the bush applying basic survival skills including the sourcing of water; preparing a bush fire; practical bush cooking and safety. Understand your energy-output-for-benefit ratio and make smart decisions. Activities will include astronomy and orientation by understanding the Southern Hemisphere constellations including the Southern Cross. Survivalists claim that navigation is the key to getting home. On clear nights and on a full moon participants can also apply basic navigation theory and get a directional fix from the moon. Dinner around the camp fire with storytelling. Makuleke Camp – dinner, lunch, breakfast and activities (3-star)

Day 6MAKULEKE CONCESSION - Anti-poaching and 4 x 4 driving

This morning guests walk back to camp applying tracking, navigation and orientation skills. Participate in an interactive discussion on anti-poaching. There are two general categories of anti-poaching. The first targets the illegal incursions and includes coercive methods to track and catch poachers. The second deals with campaigns and policies to prevent the illegal trafficking of animal products i.e.: targeting the supply and demand chains of the trade.

The discussion will include basic anti-poaching strategies and logistics out in the field. The specifics covered will include snare collection and rifle safety. Learn the basics of effective rifle-safety and 4×4 driving, an essential skill in the field. Guests join an afternoon game drive to an area where they will practice basic 4×4 skills and other aspects of good marksmanship. En-route, apply the basic theory of snare collection. Makuleke Camp – dinner, lunch, breakfast and activities (3-star)

Day 7 MAKULEKE CONCESSION - Field observation challenge and awarding of certificates

Meals are served at the camp. Guests are assessed on the application of their newly acquired bush and survival skills in a practical and fun way. Attend the awards ceremony and a spectacular bush dinner. Makuleke Camp – dinner, lunch, breakfast and activities (3-star)


Guests board an early transfer from Makuleke and spend the day traveling southwards through the Kruger National Park. Breakfast packs will be provided. Lunch in Kruger National Park (own account). Guests exit the park at Phalaborwa Gate arriving at the night’s accommodation, late afternoon. Board an open safari vehicle for a game drive. Dine at the lodge. Leopards Lair – dinner, breakfast and two game activities (4-star)

Day 9HOEDSPRUIT – Day of departure

Guests enjoy an early morning game drive on an open safari vehicle before breakfast. Board a transfer to Eastgate Airport or Johannesburg (own account).

Tour Details

Group size is from 2 – 8 people.

Price Includes

  • Accommodation
  • Meals (8 breakfasts, 6 lunches, 8 dinners)
  • Entrance Fees & Kruger NP Conservation Fee
  • Transfers: Johannesburg to Hoedspruit (Shuttle); Hoedspruit to Makuleke Gate (Driver Only)
  • Excursions (2 Open Safari Vehicle Game Drives)
  • Makuleke Activities
  • Green Seat Contribution

Price Excludes

  • International Airfare
  • Travel Insurance (Mandatory)
  • 3 Lunches & All Drinks
  • Any Private Expenses
  • Gratuities
  • Hoedspruit Transfer to Airport or Johannesburg
  • Porters

Optional Activities

  • Extensions to Pretoria
  • Extensions to Cape Town