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Our Story

Our own journey of discovery

Bundox Safari Co evolved from founder Marinus Smith’s experiences in the wild, uncharted territory north of the Zambezi delta in Mozambique where, as a young man,  he built and ran a bush camp for a small safari operator. It was this wild, impenetrable wilderness that was to give his future company its name – Bundox – an appropriation of the word “boondocks”, meaning “rough, untamed country”. In Africa, we call it “bundu”. In Mozambique, they pronounce it “bundox” with no small amount of Portuguese flair!

A timeline to success


A young Bundox founder Marinus Smith moves to Mozambique to build and run a safari camp and get his first taste of the “wild” life.

Marinus returns from Mozambique and starts up Bundox Game Capture, taking the Portuguese pronunciation of “boondocks” as his brand.

Bundox Game Capture grows into one of the biggest names in the game capture industry and specialists in capturing nyala, leopards and other big cats.

During the years that Marinus was moving game between emerging parks in South Africa in the early 2000s, he met an integral member of the Wildlife Ranching SA team: Ida Steenekamp, who would later become Mrs Smith. A surprise marriage on a famous mountain at Phinda Private Game Reserve convinced her to say, “I do.”

Ida joined Marinus, and the company truly began to take flight. Together, they established the dynamic brand that grew and evolved from successful game capture and conservation programmes to versatile safari tourism in the Greater Kruger.

Bundox Game Capture branches out into offering game ranger experience programmes and facilitating projects for research students and conservation volunteers.

Bundox launches the Wildside Africa brand and acquires a trail camp in the Balule Private Game Reserve.

Bundox acquires what will become Bundox Safari Lodge on a private sanctuary neighbouring Thornybush Private Game Reserve just outside Hoedspruit. It’s used as a conservation travel hub before evolving into a fully fledged safari lodge.

Bundox Game Capture evolves into a new vision for eco-tourism – Bundox Safari Co – and has a new direction. Wildside Africa acquires Mankwe Bush Camp in Botswana and Bundox Safari Lodge takes off.

Wildside Africa begins to take off but disaster strikes as its newly revamped tented camp in Botswana – Mankwe Bush Lodge – burns down. It takes three years to rebuild.

Mankwe Bush Lodge is reborn as Mankwe Tented Retreat under the Wildside Africa umbrella, partnered with the brand new Bundox Safari Co.

Bundox Safari Co opens its first safari camp offering – Bundox Explorer Camp in the Balule, on the site of its original trails camp. Then COVID19 hits!

Having grabbed the pandemic bull by the horns, Bundox Safari Co uses the downtime of the global lockdown to plan its future path and expand on what it already has accomplished. Bundox acquires the lease of Hippo Pools Resort on the banks of the Olifants River, north of Hoedspruit and begins work on creating Bundox River Villas.

Work begins on the new Bundox River Lodge in the northern section of the Balule Private Game Reserve. Work also begins on building a luxury bush villa on Hoedspruit Wildlife Estate.

Bundox River Lodge opens on 1 April 2023, raising the benchmark for tented safari camps in the Greater Kruger National Park