The trail starts either on a Wednesday afternoon (and ends the next Saturday morning) or on a Sunday afternoon (ending the next Wednesday morning). It covers 3 nights at the same camp site with 2 days mainly spent on walking.
We were very much looking forward to this adventure – getting as close as we could (comfortably) to nature. We met our rangers and fellow trailists at Berg-en-Dal rest camp with our bags ready. We made sure to pack lightly, as was requested, so we only had our 2 big backpacks filled up. After meeting everyone – next to the rangers we got company from a French couple (Laura and Alexandre) and 2 ladies from Spain (Aïda and Laia) – we embarked on our journey into the wild, away from civilization. We drove for about an hour, going onto roads that aren’t accessible for the other tourists.
The camp fire was lighted every evening, but given the fully packed active days, we didn’t spend much time at those. We called it an early night in order to get ready at 4.15am the next morning to start our adventure!
Still, we spotted wildebeest, grey duiker, scrub hare, impala, waterbuck, giraffe and buffalo to start with. But more impressive – a lot of white rhinos (less dangerous than the black rhino who appears to be a lot more aggressive). At least, we thought we saw a lot of rhinos, but we were told that the numbers are still dramatically decreasing. Poaching is still as big as an issue and there doesn’t seem to be anything that can stop it. At this rate, the prediction is that we won’t see any rhinos anymore in the wild within 5 years. We stumbled upon skeletons where we could clearly see the hole the bullet left when it entered the skull. And Kruger National Park is still a place where you find the most dense population of rhinos, so in other places it’s even worse. Gets you furious, doesn’t it?
When enjoying our last evening in the wilderness, before returning to the camp for dinner, we were sitting on a tree trunk looking down at the open savannah while an elephant was very slowly coming up our way. The distance was significant at that time and we had the impression that he had seen us, when he was starting to come closer. Still, in a split second he suddenly decided he didn’t like us starting at him or something and he started flapping his ears and making gestures to warn us to leave him be. So we slowly got up, moved to the car and got out. Again, at a time like that you realise how small and insignificant you are and how the most peaceful experience can turn out in immediate danger.
And not to forget about the delicious food 3 times a day, the great stories and experiences shared by the rangers and the fun we had with our fellow trailists.
Laura & Alexandre, Laia & Aïda – thanks for sharing this amazing experience with us!