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 Post subject: Re: The Trails Rangers.
Unread postPosted: Mon Jul 25, 2011 2:54 pm 
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Joined: Tue Jul 06, 2010 1:47 pm
Posts: 10
Location: Johannesburg
My First Trail:

I guess I’m kind of funny in that I do not enjoy my first experience of anything I do, no matter how exhilarating it may be.
This includes but is not limited to my first day at school, my first open water scuba dive, my first motorbike ride, my first bungee jump and many more firsts that I probably shouldn’t mention.
It takes me a couple of times to get into it and I then usually decide if I enjoyed the experience or not.
Surprisingly, this didn’t happen to me on my first trail.
I probably had some misgivings when I climbed into the ranging vehicle on our way to the Sweni trail, but after the first night at camp I knew this experience was for me and something that I would do over and over again.
I think that what made it particularly memorable for me was the little speech that Robert Bryden made the first evening around the camp fire.
In no way do I suggest that this was a prepared speech, it came over very naturally and he probably repeated the same concepts a hundred times to other visitors.
Traditionally, the trail rangers use the first evening to go over the ground rules regarding the camp and the hikes and you get half an hour or so to chat with them before enjoying dinner.
This evening was different though.
We were a boisterous group of experienced trail veterans (I was the only newbie) and there was a lot of joking and teasing going on around the camp fire.
I think one or two of the jokes were probably targeted at Robert and me (I was the only male in the group between Deidre` and all her female buddies), so I guess I naturally gravitated towards Robert and more male-oriented conversation and his stories fascinated me.
When it was time, Robert quietened everyone down and started.

“Hi everyone and welcome to the Sweni trail.
This is probably one of my favorite trails with some of the best memories I have of the bush.
The area encompasses about 50 000 hectares with pristine savannah bush and the Sweni river as its focal point.
We regularly see kills as the river serves as a gathering point for game and where there is game there are predators such as lions, leopards and cheetah.
We’ll probably run into some scavengers such as hyena and jackal, but I doubt it if we’ll see wild dog due to their small numbers.
The trails are fun and exciting but I would like you to think of a couple of things while we’re hiking tomorrow. Walking in the veldt you realize just how insignificant the so-called civilized human species really is. '
You are surrounded by all types of danger.
Imagine getting lost in the bush.
How would you survive?
Strangely enough there are still tribes that live off the land as hunter gatherers.
Some tribes hunt dangerous game with only a bow and arrow or a spear.
They have learnt to survive and adapt to this way of life.
The Shangaan people have managed to become ingenious trackers, following their prey for days.
They can identify a single animal by its spoor alone; figure out if the animal is injured, its approximate age and how many days it was ahead of them.
If you had to track an elephant, would you even know in which direction it was travelling?
I bet you wouldn’t.
In our culture of fast food and instant gratification, how would you adapt to having to stalk your dinner for days and risk getting injured in the hunt.
Breaking a leg or busting a rib?
Out here there are no hospitals that will treat you; you are left to your own devices.
Would you know which plants serve as natural antibiotics if you have severe septicemia?
Simple things like brushing your teeth, how would you do it?
With what would you make a bed?
Where is the best place to make a bed?
And how about fire, the most important tool to be harnessed by civilized man.
With fire we are able to cook our food to help us ingest the energy quicker.
It wards of dangers in the night and uplifts your spirit and keeps us warm.
What would you do when the last of your lighter fluid runs out?
How would you transport your fire or smoldering coals as you travel?
Where would you get water and how would you carry it if you had no vessel?
What plants are safe to eat and how would you know that?
Where do you hide from an Elephant, behind a bush or behind a tree?
And a rhino?
Why are cattle so important to the Masai people?
For the meat?
Guess again.
They drink their blood as a source of protein and to cure hangovers.
All these questions seem simple until you get confronted with the harsh reality of surviving in the bush.
And you will be amazed at how comfortably the indigenous people live.
There are even plants that serve as a source of alcohol (not, it’s not the Marula fruit) and to cure hangovers.
So, on our menu tonight is lamb stew with potatoes, mealie bread with jam, three beans salad and a leafy garden salad.
Just imagine how long it would have taken us to gather this bounty!
And trust me, I have had far better meals with my Shangaan friends than we’re having tonight.
Fish, game meat and Mopani worms with Marula tea and palm beer.
Let’s enjoy the food and remember what we talked about this evening when you’re hiking tomorrow.
Try and get back to your roots and figure out what being human is all about.
What are the actual important things in life and why we shouldn’t sweat the small stuff?
Think about how amazingly fortunate we all are to be here.
Enjoy the evening guys!”
Robert left to go dish up but I remained at the fire to think about what he said.
I could see the other members of the party were also visibly touched by his words.
We enjoyed our meals in silence, pondering on the fact that an enormous amount of energy went into gathering and preparing this meal.
I cracked open a beer and proposed a toast to the growers of hops and barley.
Everyone joined in and the festivities commenced.
The next evening, on the way back from the night drive, Robert stopped the truck and switched it off.
He killed all the lights and asked us to switch of all our torches.
We sat in bewildered silence for a couple of minutes until our eyes adjusted to the dark.
We could hear the night sounds, frogs croaking and all kinds of weird chirps and tweets that I couldn’t identify.
I heard a rush of wings close by as a night jar took off.
I secretly wondered if I would be able to survive the night on my own.
I looked up at the stars and once again marveled at the wonderful perfection of it all.
Robert started the ranging truck and we roared back to camp.
I had experienced a magical day.

 Post subject: Re: Sweni Wilderness Trail
Unread postPosted: Mon Oct 10, 2011 10:53 am 
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Joined: Fri Oct 07, 2011 8:08 am
Posts: 3
Location: Kampala
Sweni has a low fence and as the Lapa and fireplace with the lounge is high up facing a waterhole, you don't see the fence there.
Also not from most of the huts.
Saw lots of Rhino, 1 spotted hyena and other game there from above.

Sweni has a rather puny diamond mesh fence.
A long time ago I was on the Bushmans which had thick steel cables strung around poles and sturdy trees, a bit over 2 m high.
Game proof, one would think.
The veld had burned and the only green in a large area was inside the camp.
During the night some ellies nonchalantly pushed over the trees and flattened the fence.
The next morning we were greeted by munching ellies all over the camp.

It was fantastic!

In Aug we were in Sweni and the lions roared close to the camp.
A friend who went to the toilet at night didn't dare to come back for a long time.
He was convinced the lions were in the camp.

So, fences are necessary, but not bomb proof.
But I have never felt that they distract from the wilderness experience.
That rather comes from flushing loos, hot showers, good food, and a fridge for your drinks :)

 Post subject: Re: Sweni trail
Unread postPosted: Sun Aug 11, 2013 6:31 am 
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Joined: Sun Mar 04, 2007 7:06 pm
Posts: 36
Location: Australia
Hi all,

I'm doing my first Wilderness Trail in mid November (13-16), the Sweni Trail! I've been fortunate to have been to Kruger before, but my two friends have never been so should be a an amazing experience to show them the real bush.

I know it's likely to be quite hot that time of year, but was wondering more about the likelihood of heavy rain. Is mid November usually a very wet period, just hoping we don't rained out and cancelled. Does that happen often, or not much too worry about?

A little bit of rain to green things up, and start the Impala calving would be so good! And especially excited to hear the roar of lions in the night again, and hopefully get lucky enough to track them on foot :D

Anyone whose done the Sweni Trail in November, very keen to hear any feedback



Take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints

 Post subject: Re: Sweni trail
Unread postPosted: Tue Jul 01, 2014 10:27 am 
Senior Virtual Ranger
Senior Virtual Ranger
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Joined: Mon Aug 13, 2007 9:08 am
Posts: 2154
Location: Leeu Valley
Hi guys, I know this is not the forum to post this in, but I need to try and see if anybody would be interested. I have 4 spots available for the Sweni Wilderness trail at Satara which starts next week Wednesday the 9th of July. Unfortunately our group can't make it anymore so this is a bit short notice. These trails are booked months in advance so this is really a great opportunity, especially during the cooler winter months. If you have the time and can go, message me and make an offer

 Post subject: Re: Sweni trail
Unread postPosted: Sat Sep 13, 2014 6:18 am 
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Joined: Sun Mar 04, 2007 7:06 pm
Posts: 36
Location: Australia

I was lucky enough to do this awesome trail in November last year, and it was truly amazing. The sheer solitude of not seeing ANY other cars or guest for 3 days, whilst walking 5-6 hours a day through the bush can't be beat. I can't wait to go again. Our two guides Rhulani and Obert were excellent, and we shared a lot of laughs in between learning so much from these two. The highlights were many, and I'll put a link to a video I made of the trip below

But just a couple were encountering 3 fully grown male lions on foot, numerous elephants close on foot, a beautiful large male leopard (from the vehicle), sundowners at some truly spectacular locations and of course listening to lions roar at night just a stones throw away :-)

Amazing trail, beautiful settings, lots of animals, whats not to love?!

Take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints

 Post subject: Re: Sweni trail
Unread postPosted: Sat Sep 13, 2014 5:51 pm 
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Joined: Tue Mar 22, 2005 6:31 pm
Posts: 9747
Location: Ballito, KZN North Coast, South Africa
Thanks for sharing your fantastic video Sharky74! :clap:
What a wonderful experience with some amazing sightings. 8)

Where ever you go, go with all your Heart.

 Post subject: Re: Sweni trail
Unread postPosted: Sun Sep 14, 2014 1:33 am 
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Joined: Sun Mar 04, 2007 7:06 pm
Posts: 36
Location: Australia
And oh yeah nearly forgot. If you go on the Sweni trail, remember to lift your feet at dinner ;-) We had a very curious and bold little scorpion join us every night under the dinner table! I love snakes and scorpions so it was very cool, lol.

Have to also say that it was fantastic to walk a different type of area each day. We walked the plains, an along a creek on day 1, while day 2 was along a river that ended at the foot of some beautiful escarpment country. Loved the variety, and the variety of animals it brought.

On a slightly sour note, we did see one elephant on foot that had clearly been snared around the trunk :-( Luckily it had got rid of the snare, but the cut all the way around the trunk was quite deep and pretty horrible to see. But as he'd got rid of the snare, hopefully it healed up in time.

Was really keen to get back to Kruger this year as I'm spending two weeks in SA shortly. But left my booking to late, and EVERYTHING is booked at. Lesson learned for next time, book very early.

Take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints

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