The school has taken thousands of people into the wilderness since Player and his mentor Magqubu Ntombela opened it - and in these troubled times, maybe we need the wilderness and its gifts more than ever before.
It isn't only for harassed city dwellers who enjoy the luxuries of free time and money, though. Restoring iSimangaliso is about restitution as well, says Zaloumis.
"The thousands of people who once lived in the park now live around it. For local people, their spirits are in the land."
In the early days when the park was still being set up, an elder named Ephraim Mfeka taught Zaloumis a valuable lesson. "He said, 'Our memory is in the land, you destroy our memory, you destroy us.' Now we develop to conserve. If people don't have electricity, they are going to cut wood," he says.
So far, iSimangaliso is prevailing.
Some 8,000 people have permanent jobs in the park, many more than the 350 jobs mining would have created. Yet, the prying fingers are never far away.
Ian Player knew this too, even after the dust from the St Lucia dune-mining saga had settled. There was never any Waterloo in conservation, never a single, glorious battle that would turn the tide, he told me once, but only one guerrilla skirmish after the next.
During our last night, we camp in a clearing in a shallow depression. The cold seeps down the slopes and I roll out my mat close to the fire. At 1am I am shaken awake for my watch. "There's a hyena close by," says the person I am relieving. "But she's just watching."
I make coffee and take a slow, quiet stroll around the camp, shining a torch into the branches, the hollows, the grass, the gaps between the trees. On my second sweep, five pairs of hyena eyes gleam back at me, maybe 50m away. I wake Mbuzwa.
"Just keep an eye on them," he says and goes back to sleep. So I do. For an hour we stare at each other. Check you, check me back. Some time in the early hours, they lope off.
In the morning I ask Mbuzwa if the hyenas would have made trouble for us. "Only if you'd done something stupid," he says with an easy smile. "They were curious, drawn by the smell. This is their place, after all."
It strikes me then that the only predator we really have to fear is in us.
By the time we walk out of the wilderness area, I am a different person, if only for a little while. Next time I'll stay longer.
You should try it too.
PLAN YOUR TRIP
• iSimangaliso Wetland Park stretches from Maphelane all the way to Kosi Bay on the Mozambique border. Its wilderness area - one of only three in SA - is 70km long and 40km wide. See isimangaliso.com.
• Wilderness trails are operated by the Wilderness Leadership School and run over three or five days. The trails require a minimum of six people (maximum 8) but smaller bookings can be complemented with other prospective walkers or those from community programmes. Rates available on request. See wildernesstrails.org.za.
- Ash was a guest of iSimangaliso.