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Trail Locations

At WildSide Trails & Training, we currently offer backpacking trail experiences in two exceptional locations: Makalali and Pafuri, both located in Limpopo, South Africa. We have carefully selected these destinations to provide you with diverse and interesting experiences showcasing two very different sides to the African bush and conservation.

Makalali Private Game Reserve

Makalali Private Game Reserve is a 25,000- hectare Reserve in Limpopo, South Africa. It offers an incredible setting for walking trails and is ideally located just an hour from the bustling town of Hoedspruit. The reserve showcases the diverse landscapes of the South African wilderness, offering some fantastic locations to camp wild, observe quietly, and collect water. As you explore Makalali, you’ll encounter diverse habitats, including open plains, lush riverine areas, and dense bushveld.

Our experienced guides will lead you through this pristine reserve, sharing their knowledge and insights into the area’s flora, fauna, and archeological wonders. Get ready to witness the Big 5 on foot. While nothing is ever guaranteed, animal encounters on many 3 night trails are possible and are trail experiences for you to cherish forever.

Being a “closed” system (fenced), the reserve is carefully managed and monitored. It has a network of roads that all the lodges within the Greater Makalali Private Game Reserve can traverse. Backpacking trails in Makalali offer the opportunity to follow animal paths, riverbeds and explore interesting sites not possible on vehicle. But sleeping out there in the bush, disconnecting from the busy modern world and connecting with nature in a primordial way is what this experience is really all about.

Our meeting point for Makalali backpacking / camp-based trails is the Main Reserve Gate, from where we transfer to Twines Camp, Siyafunda Wildlife and Conservation.

Siyafunda Wildlife and Conservation conducts focused research on keystone species: elephant, lion, cape buffalo, spotted/brown hyena and leopard. Habitat and reserve maintenance work also plays an important part of their monitoring and conservation work at Makalali Private Game Reserve.

Pafuri Wilderness Area, Greater Kruger National Park

Discover the allure of Pafuri, a South African wilderness area located in the northern reaches of the Kruger National Park. It carries a very deep history with mankind and as an “Open System” without fences, the Pafuri is where wildlife roams freely between South Africa, Zimbabwe and Mozambique. This creates a truly authentic wilderness experience where animals have very little limit on their natural movement patterns that have evolved over centuries, driven largely by food and water availability. This region is a haven for wildlife enthusiasts with no better way to explore it’s diverse beauty than via a backpacking trail. Although a very wild space, you are one of many different groups of people who have past through here – you become part of the history of people in Africa on foot.

From dense riverine forests and expansive floodplains, to ancient baobab trees, cliffs and and winding river systems, Pafuri showcases an array of stunning landscapes. Along the trail, you’ll have the chance to spot iconic wildlife, including elephants, lions, hippos, crocodiles, and dizzying variety of bird species. The floodplain along the Luvuvhu River can be teeming with game (depending on the herd movements and season), although the delight is just about being on foot in this incredibly rich landscape. Lanner Gorge and its surrounding valleys lend an ancient wonder to the landscape, where the Luvuvhu River contrasts with the wide, flat white sands of the Limpopo River Valley. Beyond these lie Zimbabwe and Mozambique and looking from the cliffs above, one can imagine the migrations of game between these wild spaces.

We mostly sleep in tents on our backpacking trails, however sleepouts or primitive trails are offered on request.

Our meeting point for Pafui backpacking trails is The Outpost, an exquisite lodge overlooking the Luvuvhu River.

Future Trail Locations- Stay Tuned.

We are constantly seeking new and exciting trail locations to provide you with a wider range of backpacking experiences. We are committed to expanding our offerings in the future, ensuring that you can explore and appreciate remarkable locations across South Africa’s breathtaking, wild landscapes.