We completed the trail as noted in the report by Porcupine above. It was a special time and very different to the Olifants trail. We had two very accomplished rangers and we enjoyed their company and knowledge. Our first night at the Mooigesig Dam was magical. We enjoyed the Rhino from very close and were startled when he made a short charge at us only to veer off into the surrounding bush.
The area we covered was home to plenty of animals especially Elephants. Although I expected them to be more skittish towards us, they were actually quite approachable. We visited many places very seldom visited and seen by other people and the Phugwane is actually quite a large river although not perennial. There was a lot of water around for us to collect, but beware when going in drier periods; you will have to carry at least 5-6 litres with you.
Although touted as an easier trail than the Olifants, it is no walk in the park. We did a LOT of bundu bashing and walked long distances though thick bush. We covered about 38 km which is only slightly less than the Olifants although part was with light packs.
Highlights were the “charging” Rhino, Mooigesig Dam, the tranquility and clear skies seen from the Phugwane river at night, the barking baboon very close to us and of course the camaraderie and closeness to nature.
Will I do it again? For sure. I think that in 12-18 months’ time the rangers will have a very good idea of this vast wilderness area and I am sure a casual tourist will never explore the whole region in his lifetime, it is just too big. But therein lies the challenge. You can go on this trail and see places neither you nor other hikers have seen before.
Camp next to Mooigesig dam:
Siesta in Phugwane river:
Overnight in Phugwane Riverbed
Another surprise was seeing the Limpopo in full flow after witnessing a completely dry river in Sept last year. Pel’s Fishing Owl was spotted at Crooks Corner that day although I hadn’t known about the sighting, I did not see it despite scanning everything diligently!