A Walk on the Wild Side

We have to admit, there is something special about being in the South African bushveld. It isn’t just about the holiday or the break away from busy city life; it’s more a feeling, a calling to come home. As South Africans, we are used to piling into a relative’s bakkie and scouring the landscape for the largest animals we can find – it kind of turns into a competition between family members. But how often do we actually stop or slow down at least, to appreciate the smaller filaments of the biome? To take a walk on the wild side?

Of course, there is a certain rush, a kind of adrenaline high, when you arrive at a cluster of vehicles with faces peering through the glass panes, to see the new-born elephant calf and its mother grazing a stone’s throw away from the road. How exciting it is, to actually witness a large cat in action, chasing for a dinner, or seeing a hippopotamus for the very first time out of the water – its oddly shaped figure turning into a rock formation as the sun sets and it is cast in shadow.

Vehicle viewing elephant and calf

But how many of us have actually spent time on foot in the bush?

That feeling of coming home, that calling back to the bushveld, that’s the moment when you step out of the protection of your chalet and into the wilderness. It is a matchless experience.

Mabalingwe is lucky enough to be one of the few Nature Reserves where guided bush walks are actually made possible. Naturally, you’re bound to spot game: impala herds or giraffe, but the true beauty, its true essence, is the bush itself. One of our #PowerRangers leads our bush walks; The Eco Trail and Live-Long Trail. The Eco Trail was designed for younger guests to learn and explore the bush and its many wonders, whereas our Live-Long Trail is for an older crowd.

Live long hiking trail

Both of our trails take guests on a winding path through the bush, pausing to appreciate; smaller insects, the medicinal properties of certain plant life and interesting facts about the trees in the biome. The Waterberg region is rich in plant life, catering for the sustenance of a variety of game and providing a breath-taking ecosystem for exploration.

We are obsessed with bush walks and you should be too. Here are our top reasons to take a guided bush walk on your next visit to Mabalingwe;

  • Every minuscule detail has greater significance. Often times, in a vehicle, you tend to overlook the termite mounds, or dung beetles. This is a great opportunity to learn more about these fascinating creatures and their, rather important, impact on the ecosystem.

Dung Beetles

  • You become submerged in the surrounds. Your senses heighten and every inch of the landscape you walk through becomes alive with sound, sights, and smells. You’re no longer trapped in a vehicle and stuck listening to its humming engine. Now, you can hear the rustling of dry grass as the breeze filters through it, smell the damp earth after it has rained and see the insects scattering through the foliage.

Walking past an elephant

  • Time. You start enjoying the minutes you spend; inspecting spoor, chatting to your guide about a specific animal or plant and absorbing the atmosphere and vibe of the bush. A bush walk takes away the panic and anxiety the family generally faces when planning a self-drive through the Nature Reserve; will you reach the next check-point in time? Have the gates closed? Can we make it to the position a leopard was last spotted? – No more tantrums and frustrations when you’re walking rather than driving.

Rooibok in a field

Taking a walk on the wild side through the Mabalingwe Nature Reserve is something you have to enjoy, at least once in your lifetime.

Try something amazing – try one of our Trails.


Leaving your busy city life behind for a South African bush escape can need some serious preparation – what will you wear, will you need anything not easily accessible, do the kids have enough to keep them entertained? We’ve learned, the hard way, that you need to expect the unexpected and be prepared for anything. That’s why we thought we’d share our hacking the bushveld tips and tricks!

1) Bottle it up


Travel Size Bottles


Packing up the car sparks that excitement of going on holiday, but it can also be a frustration when your suitcase just. won’t. close! Toiletries generally take up the bulkiest amount of space and for this reason, we just love swapping out big bottles and oddly shaped shower gel packaging for small screw top squeeze bottles. You can decant your: shampoo, conditioner, shower gel and even body cream into them, pop a label on and save half the space while doing it!  Another great use for these is for a homemade concoction to protect you against the sun and to assist in deterring mozzie bites! Simply pour your preferred sunscreen, along with a few drops of essential herb oils (like mint and basil oils) into a bottle and stir or shake it up. Now, you’ll be able to quickly smear on that protective layer before taking on the bush.



2) Keep the Kids Entertained


Family RoadTrip


Keeping the kids satisfied on the drive to the Resort, or during your afternoon nap time at our Resort could be the difference between easy breezy travelling and nightmarish headaches. So to remedy this and make sure your trip is smooth sailing, use a backpack and fill it with a few activities such as: a colouring-in book and pencils, your little one’s favourite book or stuffed toy; and a small selection of yummy snacks. Hang the slip on the back of the front seat headrests so the kids will have access to the goodies inside. This will give them something to do when you need them to be distracted/pre-occupied for a few hours.



3) Fuel up Tiny Tummies


Ziplocked Snacks


Snacks for the kids, in general, are something handy and something you can plan to have on hand, for when those hunger pangs set in. Why not fill a little Ziploc bag with treats? Some peanuts and raisins, pretzels trail mix, fruit rolls, or similar not only gives them something else to do but will make sure their tiny tummies are happy.



4) “Oopsie, Mommy I messed”


wet wipes for hands


For all those sticky fingers and, “Oopsie, mommy I messed” moments, keep a packet of wet wipes on hand in the glove compartment for easy-breezy cleaning.




5) Game Viewing Galore

Game viewing vehicle


Have you ever been on a self-driven game drive where the family aimlessly wanders around the Nature Reserve, in search for elusive leopards or grazing elephants, only to wind up back at the Resort with the family all huffing and puffing and a photograph of a tree stump you thought was a buffalo? Same. For maximum exposure to the wildlife in the area, rather skip the frustrated family drive and opt for a guided game drive so the Rangers can track and locate the animals you really want to see – they’ll even impart their awesome knowledge with you. Don’t forget to pack a jersey or light jacket. It might be warm at the Lodge, but the open aired vehicle will make you wish you had thought of a warm top!



If you have any interesting tips or tricks for visiting the Mabalingwe bushveld, let us know: yourresortstory@oaks.co.za