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Mphongolo Back Pack Trail

Discuss activities available in the Kruger National Park, and follow all the sighting reports.
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G@mespotter
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Re: Mphongolo Back Pack Trail

Unread postby G@mespotter » Fri Jan 25, 2013 1:16 pm

I have booked the Mphongolo backpack Trail for 27 - 30 March 2013 :dance: Can't wait to walk it again, backpacking is the most magical way to experience Kruger!!!! 8)

I am however wondering what is gonna happen to the usual departure of the Backpack trail since the trashing floods of January 2013?! I'm sure the veld will be walkable by then, however the point of departure is Shingwedzi.... and it seems one of my most favourite camps (Shingwedzi) has been hit the worst.... Is SANParks going to change the point of departure for this walk, or will they first assess the damage and make recommedations from there??

REALLY hope the walk is still happening!! Maybe somebody informed can help a brother out? :D
Tambotie 20 July, Shipandane Birdhide 21 July, Mphongolo Backpack Trail 22 -25 July, Tzendze 26 July, and Greater Limpopo National Park 27 -29 July :D

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G@mespotter
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Re: Mphongolo Back Pack Trail

Unread postby G@mespotter » Mon Feb 25, 2013 2:50 pm

I have spoken with a trial guide (name not important) who confirmed the trial departure will be from Mopanie Camp. This makes sense, since Shingwedzi was flooded and is closed. Mopanie has all the parking and other facilities, and is not far from Shingwedzi.

Can't wait for our trip to commence :thumbs_up:
Tambotie 20 July, Shipandane Birdhide 21 July, Mphongolo Backpack Trail 22 -25 July, Tzendze 26 July, and Greater Limpopo National Park 27 -29 July :D

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Brenden
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Re: Mphongolo Back Pack Trail

Unread postby Brenden » Tue May 28, 2013 4:10 pm

Traditional Aboriginal Australians have developed, and are bound by, a highly complex belief systems that interconnects the land, spirituality, law, social life and care of the environment. They share a common belief in the creation or “Dreaming”.

The creation myths tell of legendary totemic beings who wander across the continent during the Dreamtime, singing out the name of everything that crossed their path – birds, animals, plants, rocks, waterholes – and so singing the world into existence.
Many of the Dreamtime stories are presented as elaborate song cycles (Songlines). They provide the Aboriginal with a map, recording details of the landscape and expressing the relationship between the land and their people. Listening to the song of the land is the same as navigating along the Songline and observing the land as you walk. A knowledgeable person is able to navigate across the land by repeating the words of the song, which describe the location of landmarks, waterholes and other natural phenomena. The Songlines combine to form a labyrinth of invisible pathways which meander all over Australia. By singing the songs in the appropriate sequence, indigenous people could navigate vast distances, often travelling through the deserts of Australia’s interior.
In some cases, a Songline has a particular direction and walking the wrong way along a Songline may be sacrilegious (e.g. climbing up Uluru where the correct direction is down). Some Songlines even span the lands of several different language groups. However, language is not a barrier to the Songline, because the melodic contour of the song describes the nature of the land over which the song passes. The rhythm is what is crucial to understand the song.

“The ancestor is responsible for the law and country, a responsibility which is carried by the traditional owner of the song today. The owner of the song is responsible for the country and particular sacred places, and when the song travels over these sacred places it is sung by the traditional owner of song or country”.
- Wardaman Elder, 2009

The stories and Songlines encompass law, culture and spirituality to ensure the continuity of all living things. Traditional Aboriginal people regard all land as sacred and according to tradition these songs must be continually sung to keep the land “alive”.

I can draw a parallel between the Traditional Aboriginal Australian's responsibility and that of the Wilderness guide. Dreamtime is our journey of realisation, discovery and understanding of Wilderness. Collectively the guides contribute to Wilderness Dreamtime by exploring the Wilderness concept on trail and discussing it amongst each other. It allows us to revisit and share our Dreamtime and develop our own Songline.

Think of the Wilderness guide’s Songline as his Wilderness and conservation message. Our personal definitions and feeling of Wilderness and the ways in which we facilitate the Wilderness experience on trail will differ. Perhaps this can be compared to the different languages the Songline transcends. As long as the rhythm of our song (our Wilderness message) is the same, we must surely still be on the right track.

But where have all the trailists gone, are they now perhaps singing a silicon song?
"Keep the Wind in your face, the Sun on your back and the Wilderness deep in your heart".

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ndloti
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Re: Mphongolo Back Pack Trail

Unread postby ndloti » Sun Jun 02, 2013 7:43 pm

Brenden wrote:
ndloti wrote:Brenden , is there a scarcity of Mphongholo trailists ... ?
I am afraid we have a scarcity of trailists on all backpack and most wilderness trails. The reason(s) still elude many of us.


I agree with Oryx , I just cannot any longer justify spending R4000 on the traditional wilderness trails , where one runs the chance of having your experience ruined by egotists who cannot shut up while walking , talking incessantly about "silicon" related matters at snack breaks which I try to block out while listening to the music of the wind in the grass or the sound of an elephant breaking a branch ....

Brenden . are you referring to a scarcity of "genuine / purist " wilderness trailists who understand the concept of the wilderness , or trailists in general ?
Are you permitted to quote the actuall occupancy rate of the backpack trails ?
Last edited by ndloti on Sun Jun 02, 2013 8:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.
KNP is sacred. I am opposed to the modernisation of Kruger and from the depths of my soul long for the Kruger of yesteryear! 1000+km on foot in KNP incl 56 wild trails.200+ nights in the wildernessndloti-indigenous name for serval.

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Brenden
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Re: Mphongolo Back Pack Trail

Unread postby Brenden » Sun Jun 02, 2013 8:14 pm

ndloti wrote:Brenden . are you referring to a scarcity of "genuine / purist " wilderness trailists who understand the concept of wilderness , or trailists in general ?


Trailists in general.
"Keep the Wind in your face, the Sun on your back and the Wilderness deep in your heart".

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Brenden
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Re: Mphongolo Back Pack Trail

Unread postby Brenden » Sun Jun 02, 2013 11:00 pm

The silence of a warm winter’s morning moved us deeper. Floating in a lake of Mopane the leafy mosaic of green, yellow and orange imitate reflecting sparkles as an ancient Elephant path steers us forward like a soft breeze in a sail. Fine flakes of dried mud swivel from the brush as I cause a disturbance in passing. Beads of moisture on my skin intercept and rehydrate it once more. We have traded wet earth, pachyderm and I. None the less we remain but visitors, strangers in our old home.

Diary extract from the trail 29 May to 01 June.
Last edited by Brenden on Tue Jun 04, 2013 8:52 am, edited 1 time in total.
"Keep the Wind in your face, the Sun on your back and the Wilderness deep in your heart".

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Brenden
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Re: Mphongolo Back Pack Trail

Unread postby Brenden » Mon Jun 03, 2013 1:09 pm

Vibrant birdsong midst the wooded plane, church bells engaging the pilgrims. Tree colonnades hold green ceilings tall, flank Elephant path and isle. The sun’s energy through the branched windows flow to illuminate the basilica’s dome. Civilisations curse, immense inner burden, we have found a moment of peace. Blue eyed pigeons feed on yellow jackal fruit, may this Wilderness never decease.

Diary extract from the trail 29 May to 01 June.
Last edited by Brenden on Tue Jun 04, 2013 8:56 am, edited 1 time in total.
"Keep the Wind in your face, the Sun on your back and the Wilderness deep in your heart".

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Brenden
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Re: Mphongolo Back Pack Trail

Unread postby Brenden » Mon Jun 03, 2013 1:27 pm

Oryx wrote:Brenden, the most obvious reason is cost. It is becoming too expensive


Oryx, I have to agree that R 3900 for a Wilderness trail is excessive. However, I do still find the backpack trail price of R 2050 reasonable.
"Keep the Wind in your face, the Sun on your back and the Wilderness deep in your heart".

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Brenden
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Re: Mphongolo Back Pack Trail

Unread postby Brenden » Mon Jun 03, 2013 9:52 pm

ndloti wrote:Are you permitted to quote the actuall occupancy rate of the backpack trails ?


At this stage only 33 of the 86 Mphongolo Back Pack Trails are booked this season. Even if these going out were all full (8 pax per trail), it is a measly occupancy of 38%.
Last edited by Brenden on Tue Jun 04, 2013 10:38 am, edited 1 time in total.
"Keep the Wind in your face, the Sun on your back and the Wilderness deep in your heart".

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Brenden
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Re: Mphongolo Back Pack Trail

Unread postby Brenden » Tue Jun 04, 2013 10:35 am

29 May 2013: Day 1

We followed a well used game trail from the middle firebreak access road down to the Phugwane River. It was only a stones throw away from Maribyeyobasa - 'white stones' in Tsonga referring to the resistant quarts hills of the area. Tracks of Elephant, Buffalo and Hyena litter the path as we move closer to the river's edge. We were greeted by a mass of water, I have never seen anything like it on the Phugwane before. The floods have scattered deep, dark pools along the meandering river and Hippo track have become a common pattern in the sand.

Not too far ahead on the southern bank a lone Buffalo bull seeks out green grass under shrubs and small trees. The wind was in our favour and we unloaded the backpacks to observe him for a few minutes. We managed to stay unnoticed for about 5 minutes before the wind changed direction and the black mass thundered off into the wide open spaces away from the river.

Before long we reached a sharp bend in the river, on the opposite grassy bank we could see Waterbuck and Impala peacefully going about their business. We skipped across a small watershed to the Sheshanyana spruit, a beautifully harsh stretch lay ahead as we roved through open sodic sites with intermittent pans. A branch snapped close by, but we could not find a visual of the culprit. The vegetation was rather dense and the sun not ideally situated. We could now see the grey giant moving parrallel to us, but conditions were not in our favour and it was soon time to move on. Further along, Dwarf mongoose scattered as we selected a resting point under a large Nyala Tree. It was time to drop the packs and rehydrated.

Before long we had reached the Sheshanyana confluence with the Phugwane and it was time to consider settling down for the night. As we moved around the bend two young elephants continued their playful scuffle. They moved away with time as we started pitching our perfectly located camp. Another perfect Kruger night with the stars filling the moonless sky in all their glory. We heard Hyena and Lion in the distance during that night, but managed to secure good rest for the adventure that lay ahead.

30 May 2013: Second Night

The night was still and cool. Bright stars once again provided an extraordinary atmosphere as our little fire flickers on. We will be staying here at Zari for two nights. Fireside stories had already tapered into silence and we were just about ready for bed.

We had just zipped up as the distant crackling began. It grew ever louder as the grunts and sound of breaking branches floated toward camp. It was a big herd and they were most definitely heading this way. The noise deafening, the experience intense as this large herd of Buffalo decided to come have a drink in the pool next to our camp. Thunderous grunts and heavy clicks of hooves on rocks echoed into our camp as we lay silently in our insignificant little tents. What an experience, what a rush!
"Keep the Wind in your face, the Sun on your back and the Wilderness deep in your heart".

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Re: Mphongolo Back Pack Trail

Unread postby mandym » Wed Jun 26, 2013 9:53 pm

I have just spent a lovely hour reading all the wonderful trail reports in this thread. Thank you to you all.

So it is looking like my next trip to Kruger is going to be in November when the Mphongolo will still be running and I would so love to do this trail.

In March I was lucky enough to do the Lonely Bull Trail which was such an incredible experience. The participants turned out to be 5 friends from Jo’burg, all guys aged between 28 and 32, Mark, the lead guide, Stanley the ranger and little old me. When I arrived at the departure point and found out that it was 5 strapping young men and myself I wondered if perhaps I should start looking in the mirror and realise that I am not as young as I think I am! But, as it turned out, I was more than capable and I need not have had my moment of self-doubt. What an amazing four days that was!

Judging by the posts (and the fact that I thought noone was going to book the Lonely Bull in March) it does seem that I will be very lucky to find 3 other people to do the Mphongolo trail with me in November ........but you get nowhere without asking. So, if any of you have a backpacking trail on your things-to-do-list, allow me to twist your arm and tell you that it will be an experience to treasure or, if any of you trailists are intending to do another one please let me know what dates you are thinking of.

I haven't booked my flights yet (coming from Barcelona) but, at the moment, it looks like I may be in Kruger to do the trail on 9th, 13th, 16th or 20th November.

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Brenden
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Re: Mphongolo Back Pack Trail

Unread postby Brenden » Tue Jul 09, 2013 6:31 pm

The Mphongolo Backpack Trail departure point has officially been moved back to Shingwedzi Rest Camp as from 7 July 2013.
"Keep the Wind in your face, the Sun on your back and the Wilderness deep in your heart".

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Re: Mphongolo Back Pack Trail

Unread postby A Free Living Guide » Thu Apr 09, 2015 5:32 pm

We did an Mphongolo trail in Feburary, first trail of the 2015 season…

It was HOT! Like seriously, unbelievably hot!
But a lovely trail none the less.
Bush was think, had some rain just before we arrived so all the pans had water in them, beautiful to see.

Followed some big drag marks for what felt like a very very long way, was probably over 1.5km.
They led us to a large hyena den where we bumped into about big 9 hyenas, and I'm sure there must have been cubs stashed away some where close by in a termiterium, but we didn't see them.

When we finally found what had caused the drag marks it turned out to be half a baby buffalo. A hyena must have found it out in the bush and carried it and dragged it for a very very long way back to the den for all to share! Amazing strength and determination these misunderstood animals have.
They are so good at what they do! :D

Also bumped into a 3,5m black mamba :D
Nice trail.

I'll be back up in the north for two back to back trails at the end of the month.
Looking forward to them…

HB.
Walk quietly, but carry a big stick...

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ecojunkie
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Re: Mphongolo Back Pack Trail

Unread postby ecojunkie » Thu Apr 09, 2015 5:50 pm

Good to see you here FLG..... And great doing trails with you too!
Smiling is contagious. Start an epidemic today!

Have you read the entrance permit? Do you KNOW the Conditions of Entry?

Completed over 6 years in Kruger in my caravan.

If I was normal I wouldn't be me!

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G@mespotter
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Re: Mphongolo Back Pack Trail

Unread postby G@mespotter » Tue Apr 14, 2015 3:18 pm

Brenden wrote:But where have all the trailists gone, are they now perhaps singing a silicon song?


Breden, we are still here and I have booked the Mphongolo Backpacktrail for the third time! It is just too addictive! Going 22 - 25 July this year, so first time in winter!

Few questions:
1. I noticed it being very dry; do you think there will be still surface water aroun?d (by estimate, you know the area quite well)
2. How cold does it normally get during July on the Mphongolo trail at night my estimate is 0-5 degrees, it this correct?
3. Are all the area's accessible to walk? (have done Phona Hill area, Zare Windmill and Boomplaas/Phungwane river area. The latter I found extremely beautiful!

We are a big group (8 persons) and I have managed to get a lot of 'bakpack virgins' with, and we all can't wait! Extremely excited :D

Any nice stories of recent trails? Especially curious to stories about the sounds at night etc...
Tambotie 20 July, Shipandane Birdhide 21 July, Mphongolo Backpack Trail 22 -25 July, Tzendze 26 July, and Greater Limpopo National Park 27 -29 July :D


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