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.

Format Aside

Mabalingwe has had the absolute pleasure of establishing its own Guide Department in 2017 and wow, what a great bunch of passionate, energetic and knowledgeable fellows make up this team. Allow us to introduce you to the awesome “super guides” also known as #PowerRangersAnthony, Hein and Frans.


Frans Mahlanya – “The Pro-Tracker” Ranger

Frans “The Pro-Tracker” Mahlanya is Mabalingwe’s most experienced guide – having lived and worked in the Waterberg region since the age of 15! He started at the Resort as a general worker, but soon discovered his love and passion for nature and the rest is history. Currently, Frans has 12 years of experience as a Ranger at Mabalingwe and the surrounding farms.

Speciality: track and sign; he has an enormous amount of knowledge on tracking elephants and rhinos. He is also an avid bird enthusiast.
Something Interesting: Frans is a real people’s person and speaks five languages – Afrikaans,
English, Tswana, Zulu and Sotho.


Hein Strydom – “The Tree-Hugging Ecotainer”

Hein “The Tree-Hugging Ecotainer” Strydom is widely known as Mabalingwe’s Ecotainer. When Hein isn’t entertaining and educating the Eco Cubs and Teens on how to survive in the bushveld, siphoning water from the right trees and how to build a fire, he has a great passion for trees, especially those found in the Waterberg Region. Currently, Hein has over four years of experience and happily dedicates his life to conservation and preservation of what naturally occurs in the Waterberg biome and habitat.

Speciality: Hein specialises in the medicinal and cultural uses of trees in the Waterberg region; and
in mammals.
Something Interesting: Hein is passionate about educating people and enriching their lives by informing them about the natural environment.


Anthony Roberts – “The Bird-Guru”

Anthony “The Bird-Guru” Roberts – born and raised in Jozi – has a serious passion for the Waterberg biosphere and magnificent sourveld region that he now calls home. Anthony has a broad knowledge of all things “bushveld” and we know he has a very bright future with his talent and enthusiasm.
Speciality: Birds and bird call identification; he also possesses a Level 1 in Track and Sign and
can identify animals by just looking at their dung or tracks.
Something Interesting: Anthony loves to read and spend time with his family when he is not guiding.


Tell us all about your Mabalingwe experiences!

Have you ever gone on a Game Drive? Tell us your incredible Mabalingwe story and you could feature in one of our blogs.

Send your stories and/or pictures to yourresortstory@oaks.co.za today!


Game Drives Made Easy

What’s a trip to a nature reserve without an exhilarating Game Drive? Being able to witness some of the earth’s most beautiful creatures in their natural habitat is one of the most wonderful experiences a person can have!

Most of us look forward to enjoying as many Game Drives as possible on our trip to a Game Reserve in order to see as much as possible! Whether it’s the icy morning drives looking for signs of the previous night’s animal activity, a midday drive looking out for the gathering at the watering hole or a beautiful sunset drive waiting for the wildlife to stir and come out of their hiding for a bit of fun, game drives are a MUST DO!

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