How to digest a new year filled with unexpected challenges, stress and career pressure? Create mini getaways to some of southern Africa’s most beautiful destinations for super outdoor experiences. We present your Wild bucket list for 2018. By Arnold Ras

1#: On the spoor of cheetahs


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At Mountain Zebra National Park, visitors have the opportunity to track the fastest mammal on Earth. With a senior field ranger in charge, you venture into the park on foot. Telemetry (GPS tracking) is used to indicate a cheetah’s whereabouts. Being a wild animal, there’s no guarantee the big cat will obligingly turn up. But the experience is exhilarating all the same and the potential reward exceptionally sweet. How many people can say they’ve stood a few metres away from one of the world’s most elusive hunters? Remember to wear neutral clothing (not white or black) and comfortable hiking shoes.

08:30 | 3-4 hours | Booking essential | 12-65 years | R400 per person | +27 (0)48 801 5700/5701

#2: Soar like a bird

Tsitsikamma, part of Garden Route National Park, is home to one of the most beautiful indigenous forests in South Africa. With giant Outeniqua yellowwood trees and mystical bird species, the Tsitsikamma Forest is an ideal playground for adventurous types. With the help of professional guides, you can now soar through the treetops some 30m above the forest floor. The Tsitsikamma Canopy Tour, which winds its way from platform to platform through the forest, is daring, wild and unforgettable.

R650 per person | [email protected] | +27 (0)42 281 1836

#3: In awe of vultures

#jackal vs #vulture at the #giantscastle #vulturehide. #southafrica

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A restaurant for vultures? In the Drakensberg? We kid you not! Giant’s Castle Nature Reserve, situated in the heart of the uKhahlamba-Drakensberg Park, offers a unique feeding site for endangered vulture species. Poisoned meat is a real risk for vultures, so this site performs a vital conservation role. The restaurant also results in incredible interaction between scavengers. In Wild 17, conservationist André Botha writes: “Conflict between species is not uncommon and this can at times lead to physical confrontation. The restaurant is internationally renowned for excellent sightings and photographic opportunities across a range of species.”

Booking essential | Open all year | R280 per person | +27 (0)36 353 3718

#4: Swim with penguins

Day with penguins 🐧😍 #capetown #boulders #gopro

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Boulders Beach, one of Table Mountain National Park’s Marine Protected Areas, is no ordinary beach. Consisting of three white beaches, a penguin viewing area and boardwalks, Boulders offers a protected environment for the endangered African penguin. More specifically, breeding pairs. With threats such as habitat destruction, overfishing, global warming, and marine pollution, penguins at Boulders can breed and rear their chicks in a safe and natural space. And when summer arrives, hundreds of visitors flock to Boulders to share the ocean with the birds flaunting their tuxedos. Although penguins are undeniably cute, it’s strongly prohibited to touch or feed them.

R75 per adult, R40 per child, Wild Card members free | Opening hours 08:00-18:30 | +27 (0)21 786 2329

#5: On foot in the wilderness

Visiting the world-famous Kruger National Park is one thing, exploring the wilderness on foot for four days is something completely different. The enormous national park has seven wilderness trails on the menu, one of them the guided Olifants Wilderness Trail. The trail departs from Letaba Rest Camp and meanders all the way through the picturesque Lebombo mountains. It’s a rustic and wild experience – no electricity or cellphones. This is your chance to truly escape modern day living. Connecting to Africa’s nature and wildlife, while being guests in their environment, will leave you inspired. Maximum eight hikers are allowed at a time.

From R4,400 per person | +27 (0)12 428 9111

#6: Dine under the stars

Imagine indulging in African cuisine under a starlit sky with Swaziland’s lowveld as backdrop. Spend a night (or at least two) at Mkhaya Game Reserve and go on a culinary discovery of hearty bush meals like game meat, Putu pap (a porridge-like side dish made from maize) and freshly baked bread. They say when good food and a unique location form a bond, the senses never forget. Look up at the giant sausage tree above you, listen to the campfire crackling away, and enjoy the hospitality Swaziland is so famous for.

From R2,125 per person sharing | +268 2528 3943/4 | [email protected]

#7: A trip back in time

You might think that exploring the Cederberg Wilderness Area by donkey cart is somewhat strange, but way back when people first settled here, donkeys were the traditional way to travel. Leave your vehicle at Pakhuis Pass and set off on a two-and-a-half-hour trail (with a guide, of course) all the way to Heuningvlei Village, a charming outpost of the Moravian Mission Church. Time has stood still in this hamlet: children play in the road while donkeys graze along the verges. Stay overnight and you’re likely to hear stories that will keep you spellbound. This unusual way of exploring the Cederberg’s spectacular mountains is guaranteed fun for old and young. CapeNature has several cottages so why not stay longer and explore the rock art the region is so famous for?

+27 (0)27 492 3070 | R170 per person

#8: Take a dip in the mountains

Give new meaning to a leisurely swim and take a day or two to discover the magical rockpools of Limietberg Nature Reserve. Hidden within the Du Toitskloof Mountains’ kloofs and valleys, these pools of fresh mountain water offer wonderful respite on a hot day. To gain access to all of the reserve’s hiking trails and rockpools, setting up camp at Tweede Tol is advisable – some spots are not accessible to day visitors. While day visitors can enjoy the Witte River swimming holes, the hiking trails or Wolwekloof swimming holes are reserved for overnight visitors. Rugged camping and spending time in nature’s finest water? Bliss!

+27 (0)21 808 5121 | Daily conservation fees apply – Wild Card members free | Valid permit required

#9: Hook and sinker

#weekendmissions #chilledtimes #boatingfun #goodvibes

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Although Msinsi’s resorts and game reserves are known for fishing in general, certain spots draw anglers for a more specific reason: bass fishing. Known to many as the premier destination for bass fishing, Alberts Falls Dam and Game Reserve is a particularly scenic dam to wet your line – because there are no fences between game reserve and resort, wildlife can roam free. Have a picnic at the water’s edge and if you’re not keen on fishing from the dam’s shore, start your motorboat and head out to slightly deeper waters. Did you know that Albert Falls is KwaZulu-Natal’s fourth biggest dam with a volume of almost 290 million cubic metres? Now, that’s a whole lot of opportunities to secure a bass catch.

+27 (0)33 569 1202 | [email protected] | Fishing permits from R35

#10: In the saddle

#goldengatehighlandsnationalpark #sunny #horse #mountains

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Trotting through Golden Gate Highlands National Park on horseback is like a scene from a movie unfolding right in front of your eyes. With rolling grasslands and dramatic Brandwag Buttress towering above, the scene couldn’t be more beautiful. Outrides depart from Gladstone Stables most days of the week for an unforgettable sensory experience. You’ll relish the feel of the wind in your hair, the sound of hooves on mountain trails, and the thrill of a horse at home in the wild. We share the sentiment of Wild contributor Sanelisiwe Gantsho, who wrote in Wild 37: “Horses are such spiritual creatures and I fully subscribe to the saying that there’s something about the outside of a horse which is good for the inside of a person.”

+27 (0)58 255 1000 | Booking essential | [email protected] | Closed on Mondays

Share your 2018 bucket list experiences with us! Send your pictures, videos and sightings to [email protected].