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Back on Track Safari, South Africa

Night-time Safari in South Africa


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Paperbark Bush Retreat near Lydenburg

Back on Track Safaris offers a fresh approach to African wildlife safaris in South Africa. There's no canned safari here! BoT provide a real life game viewing and conservation experience in the company of world renowned zoologist and game ranger Gerrie Camacho. Opportunities to safari with a game ranger of this calibre, just don’t come along every day.

BoT is now based at the Paperbark Bush Retreat near Lydenburg (home of the Ingwe Leopard Project). From Paperbark, Gerrie escorts guests on an affordable tailored big five safari to the exclusive sabi sands game reserve and Kruger National Park.

What makes BoT different?...BoT prides itself on providing a real safari experience unrestrained by timetables. Night or day, you set the schedule, whether game viewing from vehicle or if you prefer on foot (day time only). All safaris are conducted in an environmentally responsible and respectful manor towards people, animal behaviours and environment.

Paperbark Bush Retreat lies at the heart of a lush, hidden valley which research has shown to be a previously unknown key route for transitory leopards. It is also home to the mysterious Black Leopard of Lydenburg. Paperbark presents carbon neutral, eco-chic luxury in one of the most magnificent areas of unspoilt bush in South Africa. Paperbark has been developed by British couple, Will and Carol Fox, with the aim of providing affordable luxury in a peaceful haven, and unparalleled access to wildlife conservation projects. Here guests are afforded time to relax and enjoy freedom to explore the African bush.

Ecotourism Policies

Each Safari provides a real wildlife viewing and conservation experience brought to you by world renowned zoologist and game ranger Gerrie Camacho. Gerrie is the founder of the Ingwe Leopard Project (based at the Paperbark Bush Retreat), is Chairman of the Leopard Forum of South Africa and co-founder of PAW (Protection of African Wildlife) Conservation Trust.

Our base at the Paperbark Bush Retreat lies within the Leutla Conservancy, in an area which is recognised as being highly important in terms of bio-diversity as it forms a transitory region between the Sekhukaneland and Lydenburg centres of endemism. By opting for a BoT safari guests are already helping to contribute towards our conservation work. In addition guests are afforded the opportunity to gain an insight into real African conservation work if they wish, either by observing our work or assisting our Rangers. In this way we hope guests will help to spread the message of what real African conservation is and what the needs are.

Paperbark Bush Retreat sits within (and is a founding member of) the Leutla Conservancy, whose primary purpose is the conservation of the pristine veld remaining in the area. We are fortunate to be located in a lush valley serviced by mountain springs and rivers. However the preservation of this water is at the top of our agenda in both our land and accommodation management. Our guests are able to contribute towards water conservation, for example significant water savings can be made by guests if they let us know when towels and linen are unused. We operate our water conservation policy in line with the Mpumulanga Parks Board ‘Working for Water’ Group, primarily with regard to the eradication of ‘Black Wattle.

Paperbark had previously been a cattle ranch and has been converted to eco-tourism with the intent of providing a low impact venture, which continues to sustain the existing employees and their families living on the land. We operate a bush rehabilitation program, which repopulates previously farmed grassland with indigenous tree species and simultaneously acts to offset our carbon emissions. We have a policy of recruiting staff from one extended, indigenous family, who have lived and worked within the Conservancy boundaries for many years. All of our food, bathroom and kitchen supplies are from local sources and as far as possible, we aim to use a combination of organic, fair-trade and sustainable products.

Visits to our friends at the Moholoholo Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre and Hoedsprruit Endangered Species Project are included in each safari. Where travellers can witness great conservation and research work being conducted. Both are non profit making organisations with an aim of rehabilitating animals, breeding and repopulating endangered species as well as education.

Each safari will include time spent in the Kruger National Park, where entrance and lodge fees are used to sustain the conservation work within the park as well as provide fair trade employment.

While on safari we recommend that visitors buy locally produced goods and support local artisans. In this way, visitors are able to help sustain the local community, contribute towards conservation and enrich their own lives. During each safari there will be opportunities to purchase goods from local artists, market stalls and restaurants in keeping with the ideals of fair trade. Our guides will advise on a ‘fair price’ if requested, however it is worth noting that a relatively small sum can make a huge difference to peoples lives in Africa and guests are asked to consider this when bargaining with market stallholders.

We believe that everyone is able to help make a difference towards conserving our environment. When on safari or in the bush, we operate a policy of ‘bring out what you take in’ ie. we leave no litter or man made products behind. Game drive vehicles do not deviate from existing roads and tracks, however guided foot safaris will access game trails which cannot be reached by vehicle. When on foot, we stay on the trail as deviating can cause erosion and other environmentally harmful impacts.

Our safari staff are all recruited locally and encouraged to develop within the organisation to achieve their goals and where applicable to produce conservation based items for sale (100% of the proceeds going to the originator). For example we have supported and assisted one of our game rangers in creating a small business producing casts of Leopard tracks. These casts are presented with a photograph and history of the Leopard concerned. This business is now employing members of our rangers immediate family.

On arrival, we hold an informal chat with guests to explain our conservation work and how they are able to contribute during their safari. A travellers’ code of conduct is also issued with each bespoke safari itinerary.

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