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Wilderness Leadership School (WLS) Trust

For well over 55 Years, the Wilderness Leadership School has been at the forefront of conservation and especially the conservation of Wilderness Areas in South Africa, what makes our approach different and how do we make a difference for a better planet, better people and better conservation?

We Focus On People

Every conservation challenge on earth, from climate change to rhino poaching to deforestation to the plundering of our oceans is not a "real environmental problem" these are merely symptoms of a bigger problem, mans disconnect with nature. Only when man learns and accepts that we are part of the ecosystem, we need nature for our own survival and most importantly, being in touch with nature is our original state. When we reconnect with nature, we do things differently, ego, greed and apathy are no longer options. We find ourselves, our place in nature, nature is valued and protected as a inevitable result.  

On trail we are guests of the natural world, we are humbled by wilderness, in awe of its complexity, power and beauty. Outside of this our egos rule” ~ Dr. Ian Player, founder of the Wilderness Leadership School

We Give People Direct Experience 

For many of us, our busy urban lifestyles have led us into the false sense of belief that nature, wilderness areas, animals are something that is "out there" but not part of our day to day lives. With this constant buffer between us and the wild, man's connection with nature gradually dwindles. Wilderness Leadership School Trails provide a direct opportunity for man to reconnect with nature in the most dramatic way. Time and time again, people leave our trails with a sense of awakening, rebirth, enthusiasm and most importantly a direct experience of nature at her most primitive, an experience that makes it impossible to not appreciate the intrinsic nature of wilderness. 

We Grow Leaders, Ambassadors, Change Makers

Only man can change the destructive course that mankind is on. We need leadership, we need influencers, we need to change the way we do business, politics, the way we go about our day to day business in order to lessen our footprint on the planet. Without artifice, a wilderness trail serves to connect the trailists to their natural element and this connectivity is often accompanied by a shift in consciousness that enlightens the individual to the interdependency of natural life and need to lessen ones footprint on this planet. Thousands of business leaders, future leaders, community leaders and members of the public like yourself have been on our trails, experienced nature at her most basic, connected and returned home as ambassadors for positive environmental change. We need a lot more of these leader and ambassadors. 

In wilderness I sense the miracle of life, and behind it our scientific accomplishments fade to trivia. ~ Charles Lindbergh

We Advocate For And Protect Wilderness Areas 

Wilderness Areas represent the very core of our conservation efforts, the very last few untouched remnants of nature, these are special places where we can be buffered from the impacts of our growing human population. Wilderness Areas represent the highest level of conservation, a world where nature is still in balance. These Wilderness Areas are not only critical for man's own deep, ancient spiritual needs but also serve critically important ecosystem functions, the clean air we breath, the water we drink, the things we take for granted are largely still in tact due to existing conservation efforts. 

On the mountains mistakes are fatal. In politics, mistakes are wounding emotionally, but you recover. Personally, wilderness helps me get back in touch with natural rhythms, helps me reflect and, in the process, restore my creativity. ~ Mark Udall

We Nurture Future Conservationists 

The Wilderness Leadership School has a plethora of projects and initiatives that focus on environmental education and creating careers in conservation. This includes our accredited Guide Train program and specialized environmental education programs focused on younger school children and community trails. Our community trails are the most exciting as it has one of the biggest positive impacts on anti rhino poaching initiatives. Community members living in close proximity to protected areas and wilderness areas are essentially fenced out and seldom have the opportunity to actually experience these areas for themselves. By reconnecting to these wild areas on their doorsteps community members rediscover the respect and awe that their ancestors once had for the wilderness. Out of this experience comes new sets of "eyes and ears" on the ground, community members actively protecting the wilderness and engaging in ecotourism activities. In many instances, tip offs from community members has been one of the most successful interventions for catching Rhino Poachers. 


Welcome to Gaia Conscious Travel!

Many people worldwide are mindful of how their lifestyle affects our planet Gaia, the communities that live on her and off her resources. They also are more aware of how their choices affect their own body, mind, soul and spirit.

Welcome to our online travel agency, where like-minded people can discuss and source their ideal conscious travel experiences! Together, on our blog and social media, we will discuss how to reduce the negative effects of travel on our human and natural environments and also how travel can help us grow. We will put all our efforts together to leave a positive footprint behind us and within us.