Marataba: Conservation and Tourism Intertwined

The new narrative of ecotourism is about far more than simply viewing animals in their natural habitat.
It’s experiential, it’s immersive, and more than anything, it’s about the visitor to African shores feeling like their stay has made a difference. More and more safari operators are giving guests the chance to go behind the scenes as it were, in order to see – and more importantly to participate in – the work being done on the ground to save Africa’s wildlife and her wild spaces.

Marataba has long been one of our favourite reserves.
Only a few hours drive from Johannesburg, malaria-free, and blessed with fantastic game viewing, it has practically sold itself. Now however, Marataba are spearheading the way a bush visit should be conducted; their Conservation Camps are allowing guests the opportunity to actively participate in the reserve’s conservation efforts.

Rhino poaching has been an ever-growing problem across Africa for years, and South Africa has been particularly hard hit. For too long however, there has been a distinct disconnect between what is being done to protect the species and the guests who are able to view rhinos in the wild. Marataba have realised that by making their rhino conservation efforts accessible, viewable, and most importantly, experiential, people will be far more aware of what it takes to both monitor and protect the species.
Understanding a cause enables one to get behind it far more effectively.

Both white and black rhinos occur at Marataba; a mixture of clearings and thornveld provide adequate habitat for both species (white rhinos are grazers and prefer more open terrain; black rhinos are browsers and prefer thicker vegetation). A proper understanding of the behaviour and movement patterns of the individuals across the reserve can go a long way towards informing anti-poaching and conservation efforts, and so an individual recognition system using an ear notching pattern has been implemented at Marataba.

The way we see ecotourism going in the future is the kind of offering coming out of the Marataba Conservation Camps; the three-day Rhino Conservation Safari.

During a rhino registration and identification procedure, guests will help immobilise and notch the animal and insert a DNA microchip into the horns and body. Tissue is collected and the DNA is submitted to the RHoDIS database (Rhinoceros DNA indexing system), a national DNA database.
It’s one thing to watch a rhino from the comfort of a game drive vehicle. It’s a completely different experience to touch one’s bare skin, to feel its breath on your hand and to play a part in an operation that will directly contribute to the survival of its species.

More and more experiences like this are becoming available in the ecotourism sector. We are firm believers in the idea that the more connected a person can feel to a place, a species, or even an individual animal, the more likely that person is to become invested in whatever maintain’s that entity’s future.

It’s not only the Rhino Conservation Safari that is offered at the Marataba Conservation camps. Guests can assist in fence patrols, elephant or cheetah monitoring, and a host of other activities that will help give a far more enriching understanding about what conservation really involves.

At the end of the day, that’s exactly what it should be about.

Help Kicheche’s Conservancy Guardians Protect our Wildlife

“…Our conservancies need you now more than ever.”

Iconic Africa would like to invite you to help us support an incredible initiative that is doing great work for wildlife and communities in Africa. We really believe in what Kicheche is doing and encourage you to get involved if you are interested and able to.

The coronavirus pandemic has left nothing untouched. People, countries, economies, tourism and wildlife have felt the effects of this catastrophe.

Kenya’s Community Conservancies are a sustainable model of wildlife conservation. But since the global collapse of tourism, the funding of these conservancies has sharply declined and the ever-lurking menace of poaching, bushmeat hunting and encroachment is returning and growing rampantly.

Kenya’s Community Conservancies are a sustainable model of wildlife conservation and a benchmark for tourism. Many of you have appreciated the biodiversity and the variety of species supported by these protected lands first-hand, returning year after year to get your safari fix, from the hills and plains that have become your own backyard.

25% of their revenue funds the guardianship, protection and maintenance of 250,000 acres of the finest wildlife habitat in the world, but since the global collapse in tourism, that funding has sharply declined.

Without your support, the ever-lurking menace of poaching, bush-meat hunting and encroachment cannot be kept at bay. Currently, conservancies of Mara North, Olare Motorogi, Mara Naboisho and Ol Pejeta need you more than ever.

‘Nature never halts’ is a common phrase but if threatened, it just might.

The solution

Kicheche and their neighbouring communities are working tirelessly on a plan for the next year, to ensure that their conservancies remain secure and intact despite the dramatic drop in tourist arrivals.


They have initiated the Conservancy Guardians appeal, concentrating solely on covering critical conservancy costs: rangers salaries, welfare and medical, predator monitoring and patrol costs.


This scheme assists in underwriting conservancy land leases for a year, so the priceless conservancy birthright remains intact. By paying a conservation contribution of $750 (or more) now, you will receive a credit of the SAME value on your next Kicheche safari.

Kicheche has been at the vanguard of these Conservancies since inception and in this moment of need is backing them wholeheartedly.

Almost a thousand acres are now protected for a year. One camp cannot protect it all but every acre is priceless.

A message from Andrew Obaga, Kicheche Laikipia manager.

How you can help:

Protect an acre now

Contribute to the conservancies now

Experience of the Month – Safari with a Purpose 

This month’s top and not-to-be-missed experience is a Safari with a Purpose. Embark on a journey with meaning… with one of four hand-crafted adventures. Submerge yourself in something bigger. Wander off the beaten track, interact with indigenous tribes, help conserve Africa’s wildlife and give back to wonderful projects so that the world can, in turn, give back to you. Iconic Africa, in partnership with Wilderness Safaris, would like to offer the discerning traveller the opportunity to find their travel purpose in Rwanda, Seychelles, Kenya, Zimbabwe and South Africa by taking part in a world of philanthropy, conservation, wildlife, culture and adventure. 

Whether it’s working with endangered mountain gorillas, collaring wild dogs or elephants or conserving sea turtles – we’ve got just the thing for you here:

Great Apes and Rainforests: Experience behind-the-scenes conservation work in Rwanda; meet the Endangered mountain gorilla and help habituate chimpanzees for future ecotourism.

Travel With Purpose Gorillas

Paradise with Purpose: Explore one of the most beautiful islands on earth while actively participating in a survey and ringing of the Seychelles white-eye population and translocating some of the North Island population to other islands to further protect the species.

Travel With Purpose Turtles

Kenya Natural Wonders: Experience the Great Rift Valley, a dormant volcano, a vital water tower and learn more about the rare and elusive Critically Endangered mountain bongo.

Travel With Purpose Rift Valley Children

Hwange Elephant Collaring: In west Zimbabwe, amongst its grasslands and mopane woods are large herds of elephant. Help collar elephants, count wildlife, discover anti-poaching patrol, and meet neighbouring communities.

Travel With Purpose Elephants

Enquire about adding one of these experiences to your itinerary with one of our team members. You can have a magnificent time with plenty of adventure and also leave a positive impact on the place you’re visiting at the same time.



Iconic Africa partners with African Conservation Expeditions 

Iconic Africa is proud to partner with African Conservation Expeditions, a first of its kind initiative that combines real conservation work with high-end luxury safaris. 

This unique conservation company was established by well-known conservationist, Cole du Plessis, and Wallabies rugby legend, Dane Haylett-Petty. The motivation that drives this initiative is the raising of funds for the critical, ongoing conservation work needed to save some of Africa’s most endangered species.

The expeditions are hosted by conservation specialists who introduce guests to the areas where intervention is necessary to sustain Africa’s most wild and threatened species. 

The current focal points include the Kalahari region, North-West, Limpopo and the Greater Kruger National Park. The extent and diversity of these areas ensure that each expedition is both unique and thrilling.    

50% of the proceeds from these expeditions are directed to the Endangered Wildlife Trust – an NGO that has dedicated over 45 years to saving Africa’s wildlife and habitats.

African Conservation Expeditions focuses on threatened species that include: African Wild Dog, Lion, Black Rhino, White Rhino, Cheetah, Elephants and Pangolins. Most threats are human-induced and involve poaching, disease, persecution and roadkill.

Step into an action movie as you help monitor and observe; fit tracking collars onto key individuals; administer vaccines; collect genetic samples, and removing snares where necessary. 

Once the conservation objectives are achieved, guests have plenty of time to relax, reflect on their experiences, and enjoy the facilities of some of the most exclusive and most luxurious lodges South Africa has to offer. The luxury of the rooms, the exquisite food, the beautiful views and the inviting swimming pools create the ideal atmosphere for some well-deserved relaxation. 

Contact the Iconic team to find out more on how you can help make a difference to wildlife on your next luxury safari in Africa here