Thursday, November 1, 2012

Kruger on foot

It is most probably the bottom of the list activity in this category. Even so, the "early morning walking safari" is the most logical thing to do first if you want to venture down that road. I honestly think that anybody in good health that enjoy the great outdoors and the wildlife scenery on offer in Kruger National Park should have all of these activities on their ticking list an should have a constructive plan to reach the ultimate goal of ticking them all off. The "plan" should be called: "Kruger on foot" or maybe something more glamorous like "Walking The Big Five Trails".  Maybe "Hiker's Safaris" would suit you better. Fact is that you can name it whatever you want. The main thing is that it is fun, healthy, educational, environmentally friendly, and extremely enjoyable! There are quite a lot of different walks on offer at each camp and the general "morning walks" will never be along the same routes and even if you do happen to hike an area that you've done before, you will have a completely different experience every time.
Take some warmer clothing that can be taken off.
The guides from Kruger that accompany you are really well informed and professional and they each have their own sense of humor and I am yet to go on a walk where the guests do not very quickly cotton on to the guides and turn out to shower them with compliments and "thank you's" afterwards. We went on such a walk for the umpteenth time this morning and I would like to share the experience with you.

Jacob, teaching "bush sign language".
It is an early morning activity and one should be up and about well before four o' clock to be able to enjoy a cup of coffee or tea before you leave for Crocodile Bridge Gate. If you organise this activity with your accommodation establishment or tour operator they will probably see to it that indemnity forms are filled in beforehand and there will be no need to make  provision to spend time on this on the morning of the walk. There are always two armed guides with each group of highly eight. They will give you a briefing full of quirky jokes full of useful info before you make tracks into the bush.                                                                                      
The colour of these pants are "borderline".
People doing this for the first time are always struck by a silly feeling of guilt because getting out of your vehicle inside Kruger is such a strict taboo that it always feel as though you are busy with something illegal. Of course meeting up with any one of the big five is always a big dream, but the little things about dung beetles, ants, caterpillars, grass, trees and birds are so interesting that if it so happen that you actually meet up with none of the bigger animals it does not matter to most hikers. You always walk in single file and gather around the guide when he share his wealth of knowledge with the group. Some of them seem to be a walking encyclopedia.

Avoid any bright colours and white is an absolute taboo. Flat comfortable shoes is a must and if it can handle some water during the wet season it would be a bonus. Refrain from spraying any deodorant. Animals will detect the smell from far and you might be left with the impression that there are none around.
Fresh tracks of a large male lion.
After the walk, if you manage to concentrate on the guides informative talks, you should be able to distinguish between the tracks of a lot of animals.
 It is however not only the big five and other large animals that will keep you spellbound, but also to read other signs such as damage done to trees and plants and to know what to make of obvious warning calls by birds. There is a whole world to be introduced to. You will certainly get the impression that most regular visitors to Kruger miss out on the best part by simply sitting in a car and ticking off sightings to compare the success of their drive to the previous one.

Almost every single walk that I've been on ended with the sight of a white rhino at close range. The guides often have to make huge efforts to read the wind to make sure you're not detected too soon. To get as close as 15 meters from these huge animals is a great experience. If you wish to organise these and other activities in Kruger and  elsewhere in the Wild Frontier or Mpumalanga you are welcome to contact Louise at . She will also be able to help you with organising accommodation to suite your need and budget.
When you get within a range of 15 meters from this impressive beast and are able to take this photo without using your zoom function, you realise how vulnerable they are and how easy it is for poachers to get to them.

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