TAKE A WALK ON THE WILDSIDE

Take A Walk On The Wild Side- Walk in the footsteps of Africa's giants with Bakubung's new and unique wild game trails guaranteed to ignite your soul.

A mere two- hour’s drive from the fast pace city life of Johannesburg lies a place of breath taking beauty and serenity. Concealed in the rich expanses of the malaria free Pilanesberg National Park,  Bakubung 'People of the Hippo', now offers wildlife enthusiasts walking safaris. A truly unique and personal experience,  guests will be able to hike through the beautiful mountains while taking in the sounds and amazing scenery that nature has to offer. They'll also learn about the geology and unique fauna and flora while walking among Africa’s Big 5 with Bakubung's experienced and passionate trails guides.

Spearheaded by two of Bakubung's experienced rangers, Jan Hedrick Hanekom and Jared Reid, the trails range from three hours and upwards, pending on the sightings and also the fitness of guests. The pace is slow and safety is the most important aspect of the walk. Both rangers are highly trained and registered with the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism. Each trail caters for both the wildlife and the bird enthusiast and meanders through the big 5 area with the rangers covering dung identification, spoor and all aspects of the environment.

Depending on the size and experience of the group walkers can expect to come up close and personal with many different wildlife. "We have had a number of good sightings of black rhino, elephant and even leopard on these trails," says Hanekom. "On a recent walk we could hear the black rhino chewing off some branches and even hear their stomachs digesting their meal while we were hidden, safe in a thicket. "

Aside from the Big 5, Bakubung is home to thousands of other species. "When you drive through this country you see the land, but when you walk you feel the pulse of Africa through the soles of your shoes," adds Reid. "On a recent walk we saw giraffe very close by, kudu , wildebeest, impala, warthogs, zebra, mountain reedbuck, red hartebeest and lot of buffalo droppings in the area. We also heard lion roaring in the valleys!" Reid says spoor identification is an important tool for the walks as well as other tell-tale signs of the bush such as the Brown hyena markings on the grass, the white dung of brown hyena and the territorial marking of rhinos. The use of middens for rhinos and seeing elephant trunk marking in the ground where they have been gracing are all possibilities to be spotted on a walk.

Bakubung is also a paradise for birders with over 340 bird species that live in and around  the Reserve's 30 dams and water holes and 34 streams, and many have also made a home for themselves in some of the Reserve's protected trees like Red balloon, Leadwood, Shepherds Tree and Maroela.

The walks are also historically enriching. "Pilanesberg is named after a Tswana chief, Pilane and is 55.000 hectares in extent. It is almost perfectly circular because it comprises the area of a 1200 million years old volcano crater with a small lake in the centre," explains Hanekom. "This very scenic terrain lies in the transition zone between Kalahari and Lowveld, and both types of vegetation are found here. Mzilikazi, the Zulu warrior who fled from Natal (Zululand) walked through this area on his way to Zimbabwe (Rhodesia). Oubaas Paul Kruger had a farm in the Pilanesberg, and his house is situated only about 15 kilometres from Bakubung Bush Lodge. The northern region of the Pilanesberg Game Reserve was traditionally owned by the Bakgatla-ba-Kgafela (commonly known as the Bakgatla) tribe. A mission station was established in this section of the park. The southern section of the Pilanesberg game reserve was originally a set of farms which were sold to and registered in the names of a number of Boer farmers by the Transvaal government in the 1860s. These farmers were responsible for building the Mankwe dam, which is the Pilanesberg's largest standing water reservoir."

The Park was opened in 1979 and, in the 'Operation Genesis' (the largest game resettlement project in the history of South Africa, in the early '80s) more than 6 000 animals from other parks found a home in Pilansberg. "In 1993 lions from the Etosha National Park (Namibia) were introduced to the park, despite grave concerns of the surrounding communities. Since then, the lions have been thriving and nicely multiplying in the park," says Hanekom. "A similar action with cheetahs from Namibia unfortunately failed. The creation of the Pilanesberg Game Reserve is considered one of the most ambitious programmes of its kind to be undertaken anywhere in the world. Operation Genesis is still the largest game translocation undertaken in the world, and as a result the park now has in excess of 10 000 animals."

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