A walk on the wild side

Kruger National Park | September 2020

On Saturday the 12th of September I was one of seven Singita Kruger National Park staff members that went on a multi-day walking trail and sleep-out. Our intrepid explorer team consisted of five guides, a member of the maintenance department and a lodge sommelier.

It was already swelteringly hot when we left the lodge at 11:00. We proceeded northwards roughly following the contours of the N’wanetsi River upstream. Our goal was to make it to the Ostrich-link Fly-camp where we would be greeted by other Singita members who would have been setting up a primitive camp site for us there.

As was to be expected we saw little to no game on the flats to the west of the river as it was the heat of the day, but we encountered several different herds of elephants as we approached the Dumbana Pools area. After managing to move around the herds we took our first proper break under a huge jackalberry tree on the bank of the river. Here in the shade I settled down with my back resting against the trunk and was lulled into a siesta by an African scops owlet’s call in the midday heat. I awoke again when one of the group pointed out an elephant bull heading our way through a feverberry thicket. The bull picked up our scent and, turning around, headed back the way he had come.

Re-energised after our break we again set out north with Pony Pan as our intended next stop. West of Xingwenyana Crossing is where we finally crossed the N’wanetsi River, with rather fresh signs of a few buffalo bulls in the area. We then skirted the sticky thorn thickets and again found some rest after walking through a sea of grass with what seemed like endless sky and cloud as far as the eye could see.

Arriving at Pony Pan we came across several giraffe and zebra. Some of us had run out of drinking water and the braver souls – everyone except myself and another guide Margaux – drank from the borehole pipe that pumps the pan. They said it was brackish. It was still searing hot so I removed my shirt and wet it thoroughly in the little stream. As soon as I put it back on a breeze picked up and I was instantly chilled; what a lovely feeling!

We then moved through a low gap in the hills where a drainage line cuts down into the plains, entering rolling hills and valleys where we made a bee-line for our fly camp. When we arrived in the vicinity of our camp we could see several giraffe in the area as well as a large elephant bull feeding on the bank of the N’wanetsi.

Stumbling into camp after walking about 17 km we were met by Adel, our human resources manager, and two chefs that had prepared an assortment of cool refreshments. (We were fortunate that among our number was Solomon, Adel’s husband-to-be, and as his travel companions we didn’t miss out on treats designed no doubt with him in mind!)

We sorted out our sleeping arrangements and in no time were sitting in a circle around a roaring fire swopping stories and experiences with each other. After a hearty dinner I climbed into bed on a stretcher under the stars where I fell asleep almost immediately. I awoke only when it was myself and Margaux’s time for keeping watch over our sleeping friends. We were fortunate to have the last watch as then you can sleep the longest! I awoke to lions calling far to our north and the lovely calls of fiery-necked, square-tailed and freckled nightjars! Above me the Pleiades and sickle moon hung brightly and I thought about what a wonderful thing it is to awake like this.

Later, after a hearty breakfast, we walked back to camp and although exhausted arrived with smiles thinking about the amazing experience that we had just had. How blessed are we to live in this amazing part of Africa’s Wilderness? My soul is invigorated and I cannot wait to share this beautiful place and great experiences with guests again.