I went on a 4-day backpack trail in Kruger National Park and did so much more than just recharge my batteries.
Four days of walking in the African bush, with everything you need, stowed away in your backpack. That’s more or less how you can describe a backpack trail.
Did you see many animals?
That’s the first question everybody asks. Yes, this time (this was my second backpack trail in Kruger National Park) we had a lot of animal encounters. But you know what? It’s not only about that. It’s about the whole experience that makes a trip like this special.
Don’t get me wrong, it is exciting when you hear something in the bush. When you see the trail guides immediately check where the wind comes from, the atmosphere changes and everybody starts looking around to locate the sound.
That is more or less how an encounter with wild animals goes while on a walking safari.
We crossed paths with numerous elephants, one was even standing merely 5m away from our camp and showed just a bit too much interest. A hyena ran away from us and we had to hide on a termite hill because a large buffalo herd was approaching. We saw giraffes, zebras, impalas, crocodiles, baboons, a water monitor and lots, lots of birds. It’s very exceptional to come across so many animals when on foot.
What makes it special then?
It’s first of all the lack of internet connection. There is no need or better, no possibility, to be worried about taking the best picture that can go on your Instagram feed or Facebook post.
Memories are being made in your heart, pictures only taken to remind you of the beauty of the trip and a journal is kept so you don’t forget the details.
To walk in nature is to witness a thousand miracles – Mary DavisMary Davis
It’s about discovering places were few people have been before. It’s about seeing the beauty in the small things. About being present in the moment, about realizing how lucky you are that you are able to live this life.
But also knowing that you had and have to work really hard to be able to achieve this. That it is because of the people close to you that one can embark on adventures like this.
It’s about nurturing your soul and indeed, witness a thousand small miracles. Finding peace, tranquility and calmness. But, only if you want it to…
What raised your heartbeat?
That was a question I asked every evening at my fellow backpackers. To no one’s surprise we almost always said the same thing. To my great surprise, it was often about something else than the animal encounters.
- Getting out of the game vehicle and now you are going to start this trail you have been looking forward to for so long
- Enjoying the sunset
- Coming across a magnificent Baobab tree
- Climbing the koppie
- Seeing the smile on someone’s face
- Elephant close to the camp
Probably because you embark on this trail with like minded people. We all started with no expectations at all, ok maybe just one or two, and with an open mind.
If you can do that, you’ll never be disappointed as with a lot of things in mind.
Was I ever anxious or scared?
Yes, at one point I was and I never saw it coming because it wasn’t an animal that scared me but… gunshots!
It was the last morning of the trail and we were packing up when we heard three gunshots, close by. The first thing that crossed my mind was “poachers“.
Our trail guides urged us to go into the river bed. I wasn’t sure what that was going to solve because all our gear was still at the campsite. If it were indeed poachers, they would surely find us anyway. However, he explained that if they were going to shoot again, the bullets might fly over our head. I could live with that so hurried down, taking one of my walking poles with. Just in case I had to knock somebody down, somebody who was carrying a gun! Yes, even in moments like that I’m very humorous 😉
Luckily it stopped with the three shots and the sound of it was one of a low caliber which could probably be linked to rangers.
Numerous field rangers patrol the area, they are charged with protecting all the inhabitants of the Kruger. Some of the duties of rangers involve anti poaching, census studies, fire patrol and protection.
We still don’t know exactly what happened but they were probably just firing warning shots for an animal that came to close. Which we know can happen…
I’m going back, are you coming with?
I kept my post short on purpose because, I feel you need to experience this yourself to know the true meaning of going on a backpack trail in Kruger.
If you are ready to embark on this adventure, send me a quick mail. I’m planning on going in July or August 2020. Don’t worry about a tent, we’ll be sleeping under the stars!