Young Leaders

School Trails

For over 60 years, thousands of young people from all over the world have relished the experience of a Wilderness Trail. For young people it's a time to discover who you are, gain independence, a rites of passage of sorts. Researchers have found that Wilderness Programs have a positive impact on a young adult’s behaviour, mood, interpersonal relationships, and social skills. Our blemish free safety record, highly skilled guides, carefully facilitated programs and years of experience ensures some of the best schools in the world return year after year.

I must say that I was not prepared for the emotional effect this trail was going to have on our son! He has grown so much these holidays, especially with maturity, and I think this is largely due to his experience on the trail.

What a magnificent experience. Thank you to you and your team for the amazing work you do - all the organising and planning that goes on behind the scenes and then the walk in the wilderness itself. We always felt safe and secure and loved the warmth with which your guides embraced us. Their wealth of knowledge is so enriching.

I’m sure I speak for both of us that we are truly grateful for the opportunity you allowed the boys and us to have. It was an incredibly meaningful and important experience for everyone involved. They develop all aspects of character and emotional intelligence. I hope I’ve managed to articulate a little just how powerful the experience has been.


Trail Benefits


The Wilderness Leadership School enjoys a relationship of generations of students from many of the schools, private and government, in SA and in the UK. For the past 60 years these schools have been sending groups on trail. Testimonials from these schools on the five and ten day trails bear testament to the value of bringing young people back into a natural wild environment.  After divesting these young students of their iphones, ipads, watches etc – sometimes akin to removing a limb – they overcome their withdrawal and settle in to the unknown zone of the natural world. With this comes fear of the unknown and for some, the realisation that perhaps for the first time they are making sound decisions without the input of a parent. This in itself is an empowering moment and brings with it aspects of rites of passage (lacking in most modern western societies today)
The many aspects of leadership develop on trail in ways that are subtle and non - challenging. The very aspect of respecting (hlonipe) the absolute authority of the guides is a life lesson in itself. The guides are to a trail as an airline pilot to his passengers or a sea captain to his crew and passengers. Safety on trail is paramount and over its 60 year existence the WLS can boast an unblemished history. To this end we do not compromise and the guides are highly trained in both hard and soft skills. For many people, their first time in the wild holds anxiety and the fear of reptiles, insects and of course the larger more charismatic creatures is very real. This is a natural and necessary level of transformation which we all need information and guidance to overcome – again, part of a wilderness guide’s training.
Trails are transformative and knowledge is the key to transformation. A trail is not an endurance performance or a lesson in the Latin name of the apex predator or its prey. It is a time to exist for that period in a wild place that itself opens up a vista of opportunity for knowledge and recognition of our primordial past and our DNA and that we actually belong in nature. It is the built environment that is the foreign land!
Time and time again, we see the change in people occurring over the period of time in the wilderness so that it comes as no surprise that trailists are reluctant to leave and it requires some adjustment to return to the ‘normal’ world but the lessons of the wild remain and are transferred to life in leadership decision making, inter- personal  behaviours,  responsible environmental advocacy, team building and respect for all living organisms. That almost all trailists become ambassadors for a natural experience is embellished in the trail journals that each trailist is encouraged to keep and the communication that we receive regularly from people who went on trail decades ago and who today recognise this as a turning point in their lives.
  • Chance to destress and reconnect with who you really are
  • Amazing bonding, team building and relationship building
  • A Digital Detox, no cell phones, social media
  • Detox - healthy food, no alcohol or artificial stimulants, exercise and personal space
  • Tranquility - solitude and meditation. Stimulates flow of creative thinking
  • Different stimulus of adrenalin and responsibility in looking after and working with peers
  • Test personal boundaries and comfort zones
  • Learn new skills- flora, fauna, bush craft, astronomy, ecology, tracking
  • Become ambassadors for a cause - protection of wilderness areas, anti- mining and anti-poaching lobbyists,
  • Rewild yourself and develop a language of wilderness and wild spaces
  • Wilderness immersion has a significant psychological healing properties
  • No hierarchical pressure
  • Leadership quality development
  • Provides neutral space in which to explore personal issues
Logistics & FAQ

The Wilderness Leadership School Trails are all inclusive, meaning you do not need to worry about anything! Our trails include transport from Durban (or the nearest airport) and all your trail equipment. You just have to get yourselves here.

We also have basic accommodation and catering available for school groups wishing to stay at our beautiful historic headquarters in Kenneth Stainbank Nature Reserve in Durban per or post trail.

Q: Special Dietary Requirements & Allergies?

A: Our guides are master cooks and we have catered for all sorts of allergies and special dietary requirements. Just let us know prior to trail if you have any special requirements and we will get it arranged for you.

Q: How many people can go on a trail?

A: Each trail accommodates between six and eight trailists. For schools with more than one group of trailists, groups will not see each other during trail.

Q: Are the trails guided and safe?

A: Two experienced, armed guides lead each trail. These guides are highly trained and in over 60 years we have never had a trailist hurt by an animal.

Q: Where do we sleep?

A: You set up camp in an area chosen by your guide and sleep under the stars, a once in a lifetime experience in its own right. Each trailist is expected to also stand night-watch and guard the fire while others sleep.

Q: How fit do I need to be to do a trail?

A: You do not need to be especially fit, provided you are over 15, healthy and can carry a rucksack and manage a few kilometers walking each day you should be fine. The duration of the daily walks are customized for your comfort. A trail is NOT an endurance test, in fact, it's rather relaxing!

Q: Is there cell phone reception on trail?

A: No sophistication (including cellphone, watches, music or liquor) is allowed on trail. Trust us, you’ll love the experience of being away from that for a few days anyway and the impact it has on young people. 

Q: What does the cost include?

A: Our Wilderness Journey’s are all fully inclusive and include meals, pre and post wilderness trail activities, lodge accommodation, trail equipment, transport to and from King Shaka International Airport.

Q: Is this a malaria area?

A: Although we do recommend mosquito repellent, our trail venues are not malaria risk areas, with the exception of Okavango Trails in Botswana

Dates & Trail Length

Trails vary from three to five days with some groups opting for extra days for their programs. However, we usually recommend a five day option as being optimal. The real magic starts happening on day three!

Dates can be scheduled for specialist groups at anytime throughout the year, each season has its own special feel in the Wilderness. As we limit the number of trails running at any one time, School Holiday periods can get booked up very quickly, so we advise scheduling your trail dates as early as possible.

What Is Included


  • Experienced guides to guide you and ensure your safety.
  • Personal attention: trails limited to eight people
  • All camping equipment including ground sheets, foam mattress, sleeping bags and rucksacks, cooking utensils, eating utensils, toilet-paper, spade, water containers.
  • Food - three meals a day. Seriously good food!
  • Transport from a designated meeting place to the wilderness area. (Except for Pilanesberg Trails)
  • trail fees cover all gate fees, overnight fees etc... so no hidden costs

You just need to bring your clothes and items of a personal nature, we will provide you with a detailed suggested packing list prior to your trail departure.

Guides & Facilitators

Your guides are some of the most experienced in Africa, specially trained not just for your own safety but to also facilitate your wilderness experience and give you deep, meaningful insight into Africa and the wilderness area. For many, this experience inevitably also opens up a deep insight into yourself. Reconnecting with nature at such a profound level changes the way you see the world, changes the way you see yourself and your experiences in the modern world.

Our guides have a vast amount of experience, they spend over 2000 hours a year in the Wilderness .....they are arguably some of the best in Africa.

Your guides are also highly trained to ensure your safety during encounters with wildlife such as Rhino, Lions, Elephants, Buffalo and other when on foot, something few people ever forget and fewer ever experience.

Trail Locations

Our trails locations include:

  • iMfolozi Game Reserve
  • iSimangaliso Wetland Park (World Heritage Site)
  • Drakensberg Mountains (World Heritage Site)
  • Pilanesberg National Park
  • Wild Coast
  • Okavango Delta, Botswana
Add on programs

The Wilderness Leadership School arranges a wide variety of add on programs for school groups to get the most out of their experience. These include

  • Community Homestay and cultural immersion programs
  • Marine biology and snorkeling programs
  • A two day per and post trail Careers in Conservation program
  • Volunteer / community projects programs
  • Multi location trail itineraries
  • President's Award & DoE programs

Our Trailists Include

  • Eton College (UK)
  • Rondebosch Boys High (Cape Town)
  • Herschelle's School For Girls (Cape Town)
  • St James School For Girls (UK)
  • Bishops Diocesan College (Cape Town)
  • St David's Marist Inanda (Gauteng)
  • Brentwood School (UK)
  • Rustenburg Girls High (Gauteng)
  • Hilton College (KZN)
  • Habberdashers (UK)
  • St John's College (Gauteng)
  • St. John's Diocesan School for Girls (KZN)
  • Diocesan School for Girls (Grahamstown)

Wilderness Leadership School Trust

Wilderness Leadership School Trust

c/o Ewing Trust Company (Pty) Ltd,

Mafavuke House, 28 Old Main Road,

Hillcrest, 3610

+27 82 335 2687

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.