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 Post subject: Re: Mphongolo Back Pack Trail
Unread postPosted: Fri May 07, 2010 2:25 pm 
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Please find our report below on the 5th Mphongolo Back Pack Trail. We took out eight guests (only men - a full group) from the 2nd to the 5th of May 2010. We were dropped off on the Lange management road on the Klein Maswitakali tributary from where we walked to Mooigesig dam where we spent our first night. There still seems to be a fair amount of activity around the dam despite lots of water being available all over the surrounding bush due to the very good late rains. We had two very great sightings that afternoon, one of a large white rhino bull which we observed marking territory (spray urinating and using one of his middens to scatter his dung) and eventually settling in a nice mud pool next to the dam from which we actually disturbed him when he picked up our scent and initially ran towards us, increasing everyones heart rates but luckily we persuaded him to change his course and all ended well and we had a awesome sighting (which we observed again the next day) of about 100 White Pelicans who flew past us and circled above us – the noise from their wing beats was quite spectacular. We had good bird sighting including saddle billed storks, white faced duck, kittlitz’s plover, red billed teal and mosque swallow. The impala rutting season is now truly underway with the rams making lots of noise throughout the evening. The next day we moved to a spot about 6,5 km away in the Phugwane river close to the mouth of the Mashadya where we camped for the next two nights. We had a long siesta and then had a nice afternoon walk during which we found a large warthog boar who was having a nice mud bath in one of the numerous mud pans on the bank of the river, he was very surprised to see as and did not initially recognize us. We also came across many elephant herds which were well hidden in the thick vegetation, impala and zebra. That night, our sleep was rudely interrupted, sometime about 02h00 in the morning, by a male baboon who started alarm calling/ barking furiously for about 30min, he had obviously spotted something in the dark that he was not very happy with. We did see him the following day and he was very relaxed and we never found out what got him so upset. The following day we packed light, with only breakfast, lunch & water and went on a full day hike walking up along the watershed north of the Phugwane and then down along the Shishanyani tributary down to Dhili water hole (where we had our siesta) and back along the Phugwane river to camp. The area was magnificent and we saw elephant, warthogs, waterbuck, giraffe, buffalo, impala, grysbok, banded mongoose, zebra we also had good sightings of martial eagle, greater honeyguide (constantly tried to coax us into following him/her) & bennets woodpecker. On the last day we got up nice and early and bumped into some more elephants on our way back to the pick-up/ drop-off point, another great trail!

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 Post subject: Re: Mphongolo Back Pack Trail
Unread postPosted: Fri May 07, 2010 2:35 pm 
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G@mespotter wrote:
I've BOOKED the trail for 27 - 30 May 2011, and chuffed I am :dance: :dance: :dance: :dance: :dance:



Excellent news!!
Best of all....I am IN THAT GROUP. :tongue:

Really looking forward to this one.

Porcupine, thanks for posting. That gives us a insight before we will experience it ourselfs. Thanks! :thumbs_up:

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Elephants Back Pack Trail - 2009
Mphongolo Back Pack Trail - 2011


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 Post subject: Re: Mphongolo Back Pack Trail
Unread postPosted: Fri May 07, 2010 3:58 pm 
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Sawubona wrote:
G@mespotter wrote:
I've BOOKED the trail for 27 - 30 May 2011, and chuffed I am :dance: :dance: :dance: :dance: :dance:



Excellent news!!
Best of all....I am IN THAT GROUP. :tongue:
Am very :mrgreen: (though think I'm on the 'waiting list'?

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 Post subject: Re: Mphongolo Back Pack Trail
Unread postPosted: Mon May 10, 2010 1:02 pm 
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Just completed another Mphongolo Trail 5-8 of May

6 guests, 4 white male Africans and 2 black male Africans, lekker group very heave packs (good food).

Walked the upper reaches of the Zari and the Phugwane Between Dili and Wik en weeg dam and along the Shishanjana spruit.

Area scenic as usual heard lions the first evening and went to find their tracks on route we had a good sighting of a breading herd of elephants and were unable to reach the spot from where the lions were roaring as we were getting to far from the camp. ( we left the camp at the same place for two nights) found a big buffalo bull sleeping in one of the waterholes in the river and had lunch on a small cliff overlooking the waterhole, found good representation of general game. found 3 sleeping rhino in the riverbed and had a good time in general.


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 Post subject: Re: Mphongolo Back Pack Trail
Unread postPosted: Tue May 11, 2010 1:45 pm 
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Location: Canadian lost in the UK :-)
Sadly I booked my trip before realizing this trail was now active. I would have loved to have completed it, and it would have been my first choice!!! I guess it gives me a reason to return another year. :D

Have there been any girls/women who have done this trip yet? Just curious.

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 Post subject: Re: Mphongolo Back Pack Trail
Unread postPosted: Thu May 13, 2010 9:16 am 
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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.


Rhino:

Image

Rhino:

Image

Camp next to Mooigesig dam:

Image

Pelicans:

Image

Siesta in Phugwane river:

Image

Phugwane River:

Image

Overnight in Phugwane Riverbed

Image

Map:

Image

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!

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Mopani 4-6 Oct 2014
Punda Maria 7-9 Oct 2014
Shimuwini 10-11 Oct 2014


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 Post subject: Re: Mphongolo Back Pack Trail
Unread postPosted: Thu May 13, 2010 9:23 am 
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Sounds amazing Eugene, pity I couldn't join you. Thanks for the great pics. Looks like you did a lot of walking (though not taking a heavy pack makes a difference I guess).

With every report back, I'm getting more and more itchy to do this trail.

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 Post subject: Re: Mphongolo Back Pack Trail
Unread postPosted: Thu May 13, 2010 9:36 am 
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Thanks for the report and super pics of the trail Eugene, really does sound like an amazing experience. :D

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 Post subject: Re: Mphongolo Back Pack Trail
Unread postPosted: Thu May 13, 2010 9:49 am 
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To me it looks - and I don't easily use this word - awesome !
An area not yet molested by human development ...

I once had the good fortune to be in the wilderness on a lake in a canoe when pelicans flew over us , another time under a tree on a koppie when vultures circled above us - the sound of their passage through the air cannot be forgotten .

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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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 Post subject: Re: Mphongolo Back Pack Trail
Unread postPosted: Thu May 13, 2010 1:01 pm 
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Even though Pelicans may look slightly ungainly on ground, in the air it is pure poetry in motion. They glide as effortlessly as any other bird and the sound emanating from this is unforgetful.
The one thing I experienced is the certainty that no human being or presence would surprise us for the duration of this trail. It is so far from any form of civilization that one truly forgets about all else. All that matters is nature and I sometimes felt out of place, as if I did not really belong there. Even those huge trees talk to your soul. Want to recharge? this is it!

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Mopani 4-6 Oct 2014
Punda Maria 7-9 Oct 2014
Shimuwini 10-11 Oct 2014


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 Post subject: Re: Mphongolo Back Pack Trail
Unread postPosted: Thu May 13, 2010 2:29 pm 
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Agreed on the pelicans being gracefull - when I saw them from a canoe , there about 30 flying about 10 metres above the water 50 metres from us - even more impressive was the way they were flying in single file and equally spaced in front of the next one - and each followed the leaders small changes in altitude precisely , just the soft rustle of the wind over their bodies as they glided past with the occasional flap of a wing .

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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.


Last edited by ndloti on Mon May 17, 2010 3:03 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Mphongolo Backpacking trail-water & food storage
Unread postPosted: Thu May 13, 2010 7:02 pm 
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Hello

New to the forum and mistakenly sent this question to the wrong region.

My husband and I are excited to have reservations on the Mphongolo backpacking trail September 1 departure. When speaking with the reservationist, she was not clear on the few questions I have. Hopefully, someone on the forum can assist with answers.

Can we get away with water purifying tablets or should we bring our filter pump?

At home in the USA, we are required to have a wildlife proof canister for food storage, then hang it in a tree. What is the procedure for food storage on this trail? I assume it is not a good idea to leave it in the tent.

We have a flight out to Zambia the following morning after returning to Shingdwezi Camp. I understand it's about a 9 hour drive through the Punda Maria gate back to Johannesberg. Do the trips usually end on time and return to the camp around 11am? We are a little concerned about driving after dark in and around the Johannesberg area. Perhaps someone can suggest a city north of the airport about 1 hour away for overnight accommodations.

If there is other information we would find useful that is not printed in the info sheet, I would love to know. This is my 6th trip back to So Africa and I am quite excited.

Thank you


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 Post subject: Re: Mphongolo Backpacking trail-water & food storage
Unread postPosted: Thu May 13, 2010 7:20 pm 
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Hi there carson, welcome to the forum.

Sorry I won't be able to help on specific questions but have you seen this thread?

Mphongolo backpacking trail is a relatively new trail so I think this is all the feedback we've had so far (unless I missed something in Travel Tales). You could also try doing a search for information on the Olifants Backpacking trail, which I think operates on similar principles. I know we've had a couple of trip reports back from that trail.

Hopefully some other trail enthusiasts will be able to answer you soon.

Hope you have a great trail.

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 Post subject: Re: Mphongolo Backpacking trail-water & food storage
Unread postPosted: Thu May 13, 2010 11:46 pm 
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Thank you so much for the quick reply. I will check both locations out more thoroughly, but also read trip reports on Oliphants. That I didnt think to do.

I really appreciate the quick response and how friendly and helpful all are who participate in this forum.


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 Post subject: Re: Mphongolo Backpacking trail-water & food storage
Unread postPosted: Fri May 14, 2010 8:56 am 
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Hi carson, I too have not yet done the Mphongolo, but I did the Olifants River Backpack trail last year. We didn't need to use a pump on the trail, the water was clear enough to use chemicals, and we used cloths to cover the mouths of our bottles as basic filters. However, we were able to get water from the running river, I'm not sure what the situation is on the Mphongolo, and if you'll need to filter.

I suggest that you use a liquid purifier instead of chlorine tablets, due to the taste (which I couldn't handle). There's a product available in SA called Aqua Salveo which works very well. You do sound like relatively experienced trailists though, so maybe you're used to the chlorine.

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