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Rhino Conservation Experience 

3-nights Bush Break

A Rhino Conservation Experience, ANY wildlife conservation experience, is the ultimate wildlife encounter and it WILL give you goosebumps! It is something you’ll never forget for the rest of your life. You’ll be hands-on involved in safeguarding the future of the Rhino and other African wildlife.

Go out into the bush and literally lay your hands on a Rhino and help collaring it. Accompany the vets and the conservation team to locate the darted Rhino. Help measuring, ear-notching, DNA-collecting and/or collaring. This way, both scientists and anti-poaching units can monitor this highly endangered species. Be there when it wakes up and see it wandering off into the bush. Nothing compares to the vibrant feel of your hands on a live Rhino’s skin. To the exhilarating satisfaction of actively having helped safe this magnificent animal. Knowing you really mattered!

Where is the Rhino Conservation Experience?

The Rhino Conservation Experience is in Marataba in the Waterberg area, ca. 4 hours from Johannesburg. It’s available from 1 February to 31 October only, to avoid overheating of the darted Rhino in the Summer heat. You can do the other Conservation Experiences the whole year round.

Dynamic and fun, yet responsible and sustainable, the bespoke and exclusive Conservation Experiences are geared towards active participation in essential conservation projects.

“No one in the world needs a Rhino horn but a Rhino.” – Paul Oxton

Highlights of the Rhino Conservation Experience Bush Break

  • A truly unique hands-on safari experience
  • Slow travel Bush Break in Marataba Reserve in the Waterberg area
  • 3 nights in an exclusive Conservation Camp
  • Choose between:
    • Founders Camp, your own group of max 8 adults and 2 children
    • Explorers Camp, two groups of max 6 adults and 3 children each
    • Exchange one night for a night at the wild Star Camp-Out for stargazing and wild walking
    • Each group has its own game viewer vehicle and private guide
    • Or book on an individual base during Rhino Conservation Week and share all facilities
  • All meals, drinks, activities etc. included
  • Enjoy as an exclusive bespoke experience for your own party
  • Or join the yearly Rhino Conservation Week (9 and 12 August 2021)
  • Take part in a rhino darting, ear notching, DNA collection and/or collaring
  • Day and night game drives
  • Join other Conservation experiences and activities:
    • Safari walks
    • Camera trap set up & analysis
    • Predator management
    • Ecology experiences
    • Community outreach
    • And several other options
  • Optional road- or fly-in transfers  
  • Flexible itinerary, add a night in a lodge or another safari to this City and Bush Break

The Rhino Conservation Experience in detail

Marataba conservation area

Marataba, a 21,000-hectare (52,000-acre), privately managed section of the Marakele National Park, is uniquely situated where lush bushveld gives way to the Kalahari sands, in South Africa’s Limpopo Province. A contractual National Park, Marataba is one of South Africa’s most innovative conservation models. From the vision of an iconic president to the unique public-private partnership that exists today, we protect the area’s diverse flora and fauna through modern and hands-on conservation practices.

The Rhino Conservation Experience

Marataba offers fully interactive rhino safaris for guests to get involved over three days in elective procedures like rhino notching, collaring and/or DNA collecting. This experience is only available from 1 February to 31 October.

Notching is an ongoing intervention at Marataba and the long-term objective is to identify every single rhino in the Reserve. This will ensure that annually they are only required to notch the younger animals that are dispersing from their mothers.

Animals are individually located and immobilised (a tranquilising dart is shot by a professional veterinary team) from a helicopter. Once immobilised, the animal is moved into a comfortable position. Then, notches are incised into the ears, under anaesthetic, and microchips are inserted into the horns and the body.

The tissue removed from excising the notches is collected and the DNA, now correlated to the microchips, is submitted to the RHoDIS database (Rhinoceros DNA indexing system). RHoDIS is a national DNA database maintained by the Veterinary Genetics Laboratory at the University of Pretoria and is kept to provide forensic evidence related to the provenance of confiscated rhinoceros horns.

Get actively involved

You will not be a passive visitor during this! No, you will be part of the team and help hands-on with any work that needs doing. The Vet will direct you what to do. Your itinerary will generally look like this:

Day 1: After a briefing with the conservation team, embark on an afternoon drive to identify a specific rhino and learn about the social interaction and make up of rhino groups.

Day 2: Darting, notching & monitoring of the rhino. A follow up and post-notching monitoring will take place in the afternoon.

Day 3: Alternative day for notching, or to enjoy a selection of other conservation experiences.

Day 4: Departure.

Other Conservation Experiences

Marataba is one of South Africa’s biodiversity hotspots. The area is not only rich in its diversity of wildlife and flora, the magnificent landscapes provide an unforgettable and everchanging backdrop to all activities. Enjoy game drives by safari vehicle or boat and mix and match them with more interactive experiences for a full immersion into the Marataba way of life.

Every booking is allocated a private conservation guide and vehicle to allow for maximum flexibility. Experiences on day 3 can be chosen on a ‘mix and match’ basis for a fully tailor-made stay. Besides the normal safari activities like game drives and game walks, you can choose to participate in camera trap setup and analysis, game census logging and compiling of ID kits. Or a telemetry tracking walk of cheetahs, community outreach programs and further opportunities. Get involved in specialised experiences with the conservation team and get an unique look behind the scenes of a game reserve.

The Conservation Camps

Founders Camp and Explorers Camp are about enriching experiences in balance with nature and immersing yourself in the solitude of the vast, wild landscapes…

Founders Camp is a lodged camp and has 4 suites for up to 8 adults & 2 children and you book the whole camp. The base rate is for 4 adults (except during Rhino Conservation Week). You get your own vehicle and guide. Children of all ages are welcome.

Explorers Camp is a tented camp and has 5 tents & 1 family tent for up to 12 adults & 6 children. This is set up for a maximum of two groups of 6 adults plus children. The base rate is for 4 adults (except during Rhino Conservation Week). Each group gets its own vehicle and guide. Children of all ages are welcome.

A night on the wild side

Want to disconnect from the modern world completely and reconnect with nature? Change one night for a night in the Star Camp Out. The Star Camp Out experience is focused on stargazing and wild walking. There are beautiful mountains and gorges to explore around camp.

Four spacious tents are equipped with 2 stretchers and luxury bedding. The bucket-showered bathroom is at the back of the tent but is not accessible from inside. At the main camp area, there is a large stretch tent covering a comfortable chill out zone, as well as a small bar and an outdoor firepit. There are plenty of places to relax and put your feet up at the end of the day – and plenty of ice for a G&T!

Light is provided by paraffin lantern. There is no electricity and no mobile phone reception. The entire camp is extremely light impact, leaving no footprint behind on the landscape.

Food at the Star Camp Out is wholesome and hearty – and there is lots of it! Everything is cooked over the campfire, so expect honest South African flavours with a good dose of fun.

You can do this tour with your own transport, or we can arrange transfers for you. Choose between a road or fly-in transfer. The airstrip is ca. 45 minutes from the camps.

Map of the tour

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Bespoke private experiences

Use our unique tours and experiences as a source of inspiration for your exclusive holiday. Tell us what you like and what you don’t like in this tour, or any particular tour that speaks to you. Or let us know in general what experiences you would like to have. Based on what you tell us we’ll make a bespoke, unique tour for you. We’ll keep adjusting the itinerary, accommodations and way of travel until you have YOUR perfect holiday. Your exclusive experience of a lifetime.

This is experiential travel at its best. Nothing is set in stone, all can be combined, adjusted, changed to make your own bespoke holiday! Here are some more ideas to inspire you.

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