The Wilderness Foundation and the Wilderness Leadership School, founded in the 1950s by conservation legend Dr Ian Player and Magqubu Ntombela, is seeking to expand the wilderness trail concept that it pioneered. One of their first partners in the planned expansion is Alan McSmith, an independent Hoedspruit-based trails operator.
The Wilderness Foundation has the three-pointed Erythrina (coral tree) leaf as its logo, depicting its belief in the interlinked relationship between humanity, nature and spiritual things, and their trails ethos reflects this.
Alan McSmith has been given custodianship of the Erythrina leaf, and will run trails under the auspices of the foundation. Andrew Muir, executive director of the Wilderness Foundation, commented, "Alan's been a wilderness guide for more than 20 years and has a deep connection with nature.
We spent two weeks with him in the Okavango and were incredibly impressed with his manner and sense of place and how he conducted himself in nature. He is the sort of wilderness guide that we advocate."
Muir went on to say that they hope to find more people like Alan, and eventually have 20-25 independent wilderness operators throughout Africa aligned to the Wilderness Foundation to "expand the ethic of the Erythrina leaf."
Speaking on receiving the honour from the foundation, McSmith said, "It's a massive responsibility and a huge privilege" and added, "The message is sustainability." McSmith says he plans to run trails in both the Timbavati Private Nature Reserve and the Okavango Delta.