The full moon glows softly over the silence of the wilderness, painting silvery highlights on the sleeping forms around the small fire. A solitary figure sits in silhouette against the flames as the trailist on night watch stares into the embers. This is the midnight watch of a Wilderness Leadership School trail and offers the trailist the quiet time for introspection and solitude and the opportunity to reflect on the day's experiences; the amazing thrill of coming upon the great bull rhino wallowing in the muddy waters of a small Vlei, the incredible flashing colors of the Gorgeous Bush Shrike as it zigzagged into the blue of the iMfolozi sky and the sheer basic thrill of walking into the arms of nature under the expert guidance, facilitation and interpretation of the two wilderness guides provided by the Wilderness Leadership School
These experiences and the effect on the trailist mark the subtle shift of consciousness that occurs whilst walking in single file through the remoteness that is the wilderness. The aim of a Wilderness Leadership School trail experience is not to view as many of the "big five" up close and personal but to exhilarate in the knowledge that one is walking on animal paths hundreds of years in the making and the recognition of a primordial relationship of man with the earth. That this interrelationship is being lost through modern man's preoccupation with technology and advancement can be seen in so many ways, not least of which is the degradation of moral and societal values but the wilderness holds the power to reunite individuals with their inner wholesomeness and the aim of the Wilderness Leadership School is to expose people from all walks of life to the experience of walking through the remote wilderness areas of Southern Africa, camping out under the stars and reconnecting with our natural habitat with no ties to the stressful life conditioned by cell phones, email, time and technology. It is the slow natural passage of hours as experienced by our primitive forbears and it works to replenish the soul.
The Wilderness Leadership School is a non-profit organisation founded on the vision of Dr Ian Player and his great friend and mentor, Magqubu Ntombela. Their profound friendship took them along rhino, elephant and hippo paths, across the Black and White Imfolozi Rivers, and into the domain of ancient Zulu kings, Dingiswayo, Shaka and others.
Their association involved battling against poaching gangs, initiating the internationally famous translocation of the White Rhino, setting aside the first wilderness area and saw the founding of the Wilderness Leadership School.
Almost 50 years later the Wilderness Leadership School still conducts trails on foot through what is left of the pristine wilderness areas of Southern Africa. 40 000 trailists have undertaken the journeys of self-discovery that for many have been life-changing and for all have resulted in a shift of consciousness that brings the necessity for wilderness preservation into sharp focus.
The Wilderness Leadership School - protecting wilderness areas through experiential education.