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 Post subject: Lonely Bull Backpack Trail
Unread postPosted: Thu Dec 08, 2011 8:37 pm 
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Location: Back on earth.....
I have read on the SANParks website that another backpack trail, similar to the Mphongolo Backpack Trail has been introduced!!

Read all about it here: http://www.sanparks.org/parks/kruger/tourism/activities/lonely-bull-trail.php#trail

This is AWESOME!! Although I must say that it comes ealier than I expected, as I have heard rumours about it a while ago. If anyone is/has been walking this trail let me know!! Obviously I WILL walk this trail April 2013, as I have planned to do a backpack trail every second year... :lol:

I like the fact that the trail is leaving from Shimunwini, which means I HAVE to stay a few nights at this rustic camp as well.... Promising :thumbs_up:

Start writing on this trail now please :think:

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 Post subject: Re: Lonely Bull trail
Unread postPosted: Tue Dec 13, 2011 3:43 pm 
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Some trail report of the trial runs we did last year.

Date: 03 – 06 October 2010

Rangers; Lourens Botha 1st rifle, Metwell Mkansi 2nd Rifle
Guests: 1 Couple from Belgium(Ruben and Grietjie)

Day 1:

Arrived at Shingwedzi to meet guests around 11:00, met guests 11:30 and left camp for the drop off point next to the Letaba River low water bridge. We started walking around 14:30 on the Northern Sandbank and it was a hot day. We camped next to the Letaba River (S23.75133°/ E031.40757°) and allowed the guys to wash and cool down around 16:30.

While sitting around the fire a Buffalo Bull and huge male Leopard came to investigate around our campsite. There were no incidents, they moved away from us, without any hesitations. We heard Spotted Hyeana and Elephant during the evening.

Sightings: Waterbuck, Steenbok, Impala, Crocodiles, Hippo’s, Buffalo Bulls, Elephant Cow Carcass, which Julie Wolhuter reported before and Leopard at camping site.

Day 2:

We broke camp and started walking 06:00. We walked passed the Exclosures during our cloudy weather and had breakfast at the Letaba River (S23.75533°/ E031.44583°). After breakfast we proceeded to our 2nd night’s camping site below some Matumi Trees next to the River (S23.74807°/ E031.47845°). We put up camp and went for an Afternoon Walk towards Mingerhout Dam and back. During the evening heard some Lions, Spotted Hyeana and Elephants calling.

Sightings: Waterbuck, Giraffe Bull, Elephant breeding herd, Impala and Buffalo Bulls.

Day 3:

Broke camp early again, overcast and cool and walked to our 3rd nights camping site which was next to the Tsendze River (S23.72342°/ E031.50089°). We put up camp and had breakfast and went for a long Afternoon Walk. Came back and dug a hole in the sand to refresh ourselves. During the evening we again heard some Lions, Spotted Hyeana and Elephants calling.

Sightings: Waterbuck, Giraffe Bulls and Cows, 4 Buffalo Bulls, 2 Hippo’s, Elephant breeding herd, Zebras and Impala.



Day 4:

The camping site was close to the pick up point so we slept in a bit and after breakfast walked up to the pick up point where Robert Bryden picked us up. We found fresh Black Rhino spoor and dung.

Guest comments:
Guests had a great time, the first day’s heat was hard for them, but after that they enjoyed it alot.

Metwell was very enjoyable on the trail.


End of report.

Thank you

Lourens Botha.




Trail Date: 26-29 September 2010 Trail Leader: Julie Wolhuter Trail Assistant: Hans Enslin

Day 1 26-9-2010
Weather Sunny and hot
Route Drop of at Lonely Bull, at 15h30 set up campat 17hoo
Sightings Plenty Buffalo bulls in the reeds. Lots of Plains game
Camp Camped in large bend in river bed on southern side of river 2km from Lonely bull.
Emergencies None
Remarks

Day 2 27-9-.2010
Weather Hot
Route Headed South inland from River, lovely walk, Returned to same camp site. About 8km round trip
Siesta 12h00to 15h00 next to river.
Sightings Numerous Elephant and some Buffalo bulls.
Camp 2 hippo bulls in inland drainage . Plenty planins game , hyena and Porcupine in termit mound. Found old elephant cow carcus, with single tusk ( Reported) siesta along the river, watched breeding herd of buffalo come down and drink, followed buy big breeding herd of ele.
Emergencies
Remarks Wind began to pump at about 15h00. No chance of a fire. Guest spent most evening in their Tents

Day 3 28-9-.2010
Weather Overcast & windy
Route Crossed river and head north inland, along highways of hippo foot paths, about 12 km Round trip
Siesta 12h00-14h00
Sightings Lots of fresh white rhino sign and very fresh black rhino scraping. Tracked buffalo bulls.. Not .
Camp Same as first night
Emergencies None
Remarks None

Day 4 29-9-.2010
Weather Partly cloudy
Route Northern bank of river back to low water bridge
Sightings Elephant breading herds, Buffalo bulls and breeding herd, Impala, Water Buck, Steenbok & Kudu. Dead elephant in river just before Lonely bull ( reported)


.


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 Post subject: Re: Lonely Bull trail
Unread postPosted: Wed Dec 14, 2011 1:08 am 
I am sure that this trail will produce some lovely buffalo and elephant sightings.


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 Post subject: Re: Lonely Bull trail
Unread postPosted: Tue Jul 17, 2012 10:16 pm 
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Location: Ballito, KZN North Coast, South Africa
There is a report on this trail in the latest Wild Magazine.
Sounds very interesting.

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Kruger - 12th Feb - 20th Feb.


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 Post subject: Re: Lonely Bull trail
Unread postPosted: Sun Oct 14, 2012 9:30 pm 
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Location: OLIFANTS REST CAMP (KNP)
:popcorn:
Some photo's of my trail in end of August:
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Python Creeper in a Leadwood Tree
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 Post subject: Re: Lonely Bull trail
Unread postPosted: Sun Oct 14, 2012 10:10 pm 
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Location: Ballito, KZN North Coast, South Africa
Wonderful pics, especially like the last one!
Thanks Lourens. :thumbs_up:

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Where ever you go, go with all your Heart.

Kruger - 12th Feb - 20th Feb.


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 Post subject: Re: Lonely Bull trail
Unread postPosted: Fri May 17, 2013 10:40 am 
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Location: OLIFANTS REST CAMP (KNP)
:popcorn:

Rubbing post on a Mopane Tree on the Lonely Bull Backpack Trail.
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Shaft tailed Whydah on Backpack Trail
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Little Foam nest Frog
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One night's camping out in the bush.
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Orange tip species Butterfly,
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Spider hunting wasp
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Acraea species butterflies.
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:popcorn:

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 Post subject: Re: Lonely Bull trail
Unread postPosted: Tue May 21, 2013 8:46 am 
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Location: southern gauteng
Lourens , no tents , sleeping bags against a rock with a view of the stars .... ?

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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: Lonely Bull trail
Unread postPosted: Mon Jun 03, 2013 8:18 pm 
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ON TRAIL

I had just finished telling the story when I looked up, and speak of the devil, but what was walking towards us out of the Mopane veld but a magnificent elephant bull, past his prime now but with tusks pushing almost a meter and a half from the lip. If this old chap wasn’t a ‘hundred pounder’ he was pretty damned close to it.

We were having lunch under two big, old, misshapen appleleaf trees, sitting in the open next to Mubandi spring in the Lonely Bull Backpack Trail area. The gnarled, exposed root some of us were sitting on was a well used scratching post and at our feet were the recent tracks of buffalo and elephant.

After carrying our backpacks over the watershed from the Nwanedzi the day before, we had decided to camp at the same spot for 2 nights, allowing us to walk for a day without the packs. The campsite we had chosen was a relatively flat, shaded grassy spot overlooking the reed-chocked Letaba River, with a shallow, rocky section below us where we could wash and collect drinking water.

After saluting the sunrise with a strong cup of coffee, we had left camp and followed the Matrabowa Spruit to the Southwest. Altogether we were ten; 8 guests, my back-up and I. The path we had followed in the early morning chill had criss-crossed the drainage line and had been used in the pre-dawn hours by a group of 3 Dagga boys, whose over-sized hooves had dug into the hard-packed earth of the path. I had expected to spot them up ahead at any moment as we eased through the dense thickets that inevitably appeared after every open grassy stretch shaded by large twisted appleleaf and leadwood trees, and I was relieved when the tracks left the path and headed south away from the drainage line and into the endless mopanes. We had breakfasted in the dense shade on a bend of the spruit next to a small pool of water. The thick wall of green Mopane pressed close to the drainage line in places Afterwards we continued upstream to the confluence of the Mubandi Spruit. Here we needed to backtrack a little to collect water. We dug in the riverbed next to a standing pool of water, scooping out the muddy water, allowing clear water, filtered through the sand, to stream in. After filling our bottles we followed the Mubandi to the south, walking silently on a timeless elephant path which flowed upstream through the cathedral like atmosphere of the mature open woodland of the spruits’ narrow floodplain, with the faint scent of sage tickling our nostrils.

It had already been a busy day with sightings of impala, kudu, honeybadger , two seperate breeding herds of elephant, as well as a big herd of buffalo which departed to the west in a cloud of dust on our approach to the spring.

The wind had been chopping and changing all morning and betrayed our presence to the buff even though we had approached quietly and in cover. We had been approaching the spring on a broad, well worn path from the north, through pretty thick Mopane when I spotted a big Buffalo bull about 40m away, across the little drainage line. The slight breeze had seemed to be good, but in the few seconds it took for the group to move to my position I saw movement beyond the bull as the thundering of a few hundred hooves surprised us, as what must have been a substantial herd took off to the west. The big chap looked up for a few seconds at the sound and then proceeded to approach the drainage line toward us. I said ‘hello’ to him, just to let him know we were there and hopefully prevent him from crossing to our side, but to no avail as he promptly crossed into the thick stuff 20 meters ahead of us on our intended path. We had to cross over the spruit and back again to loop around the bull, but now our scent was every where, so there were no surprises when the only life at the water was a few thirsty Namaqua Doves, which fluttered up from the edge of the shallow clear-water pools surrounded by elephant diggings.

We had settled down for lunch when I told my story.....

Almost a year previously I had been resting in pretty much the same spot, under the shade of an adjacent tree. Almost the entire group, myself included, had dozed off in the shade, when three big, mature elephant bulls had emerged from the mopanes to the south. They had quietly approached to within 40 meters before we all became aware of them. The 2nd rifle and I slowly raised our bodies from the short-cropped grass, slowly standing, to reveal our presence as they approached another 20 or so meters before stopping, looking down at us over their upturned trunks for a few seconds, then skirting around us and moving on down to the water. They were incredibly relaxed and did not seem worried at all by our presence but carried on down to the water and proceeded to dig up mud and plaster themselves with it. All this while we were on the edge of the drainage line with the elephants below us. It was fantastic!

Barely seconds after I had finished the story, the big tusker broke through the mopanes, walking into the wind, in our direction.

Like de ja vu, I slowly stood up, not wanting to surprise him, but just wanting to let him know we were there. He wasn’t fazed at all. He stopped, checked us out for a few seconds, then calmly walked into the drainage line into which the spring feeds, and slowly ambled past as we stood but 20 meters from him. The bulls’ body language was completely relaxed. He had approached the spring while being able to smell us and had showed no signs of distress. With a swinging foot he kicked up wet sand and mud, threw a bit of it on his legs, and with a half-hearted head shake, moved another 30 meters past us before covering himself with a thick layer of mud. Being a wise old veteran, past the days of theatrics, he had read our body language and could tell that we meant him no harm and had therefore not react aggressively or nervously to our presence, but had accepted us as just another group of animals at a shared resource.
What a privileged encounter with an animal that has been walking the area for at least the past 5 decades!

We finished our lunch in silence while watching him dozing serenely in the riverbed before, again, I noted movement in the mopanes and made out an elephant cow, half-concealed, standing in the treeline, hesitant to enter the open area from where our foreign scent drifted. Not wanting to disturb the area further we decided to vacate and allow the probable herd, currently bunched up in the thicket, to approach for a drink. We skirted the tusker, who I don’t think noticed our movement, and started heading back toward the Letaba. We cut a hippo path heading straight north, hugging the crest, presumably due to warmer night time temperatures when the hippos move inland away from the river, and followed this straight toward camp.

After two hours of walking, within a kilometre of camp, the elephant bull in musth approached us from behind.

But that’s another story.......


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 Post subject: Re: Lonely Bull trail
Unread postPosted: Mon Jun 03, 2013 9:21 pm 
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Marvelously told. :clap: You got me on the edge of my seat as I was reading. Please don't keep us to long in suspense and continue! :pray:


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 Post subject: Re: Lonely Bull trail
Unread postPosted: Thu Feb 27, 2014 8:09 am 
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Location: Johannesburg - too far from the closest Sanpark
i'm doing this trail next month (WOOHOO :D). Does anyone have any information about what the water situation is like? Is water available? Does it need to be treated?

Any idea on the average time and distance walked each day?

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 Post subject: Re: Lonely Bull trail
Unread postPosted: Fri Feb 28, 2014 10:27 am 
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Hi Josh

We did the Lonely bull trail at the end of September last year (before the summer rains) and there was still water in the rivers. At some places the water was stagnant, so we dug for water most of the time.
We used drops to treat the water.

Walking time and distance depends on the group, we setup camp in one spot for 2 nights and walked daily from there without backpacks, In total we did approximately 40km over the 4 days, most without a pack, so that was easy.

I would suggest maybe taking a travel knapsack/backpack that you can use for day trips if you are going to be camping in one spot for a couple of days. Its easier to carry some food for breakfast/lunch, instead of carrying stuff in your hands and pockets.

Working on my TR :) hopefully i will be finish it soon :pray:

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 Post subject: Re: Lonely Bull trail
Unread postPosted: Mon Mar 10, 2014 5:45 pm 
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Location: Johannesburg - too far from the closest Sanpark
Are there any major river crossings? (Especially now since the rivers will probably be quite a lot higher).
How many times did you cross rivers?

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Glen Reenen TR

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 Post subject: Re: Lonely Bull trail
Unread postPosted: Sun Oct 26, 2014 2:06 pm 
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Location: OLIFANTS REST CAMP (KNP)
:D The Lonely bull Backpack trail we did from the 8th to the 11th of October 2014.

Very nice group of people, during the breaks kept each other busy with many stories, jokes and laughter.

The first night we camped over along the Tsendze River, North of the Letaba River and had a herd of Buffaloes and Elephant making their way past our camping site to drink and moved off again. Amazing experience waking up 01:00 in the morning hearing the trampeling of trees, leaves and bushes as the herd of Buffaloes made their way down the River/stream for water, and to hear big foot following. I didn't put up my outer layer, so I could have looked over the water source, and seeing how the Elephant walked passed in the full moon light.

The next day we walked South along the Sandstone ridge and ai, my camera worked overtime, with all the magnificent rock formations!!!!! We followed a small herd of buffaloes, which lead us to the largest Lowveld Milkberry Tree I had seen up to so far in the Park.

At our 2nd night's camping site along the Letaba River, North west of Mingerhout Dam, we had a big herd of Elephants that came passed as we were almost finished putting up the tents. Some Hippo's gave us the opportunity to see Mark- the lead rifle, performing his acrobatic moves in much style and the following day was a bit windy, and found some more Buffaloes, Elephants, lots of general game and during the last night's camping site a female Leopard showed up 35 metres from the campsite and guess she watched us for much longer than what we had seen her...

:D

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 Post subject: Re: Lonely Bull trail
Unread postPosted: Sun Oct 26, 2014 2:57 pm 
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Location: OLIFANTS REST CAMP (KNP)
:popcorn:

The pictures from the Lonely bull Backpack Trail we did 8th to 11th of October 2014.

On the way to Mopanie found this Elephant Cow with her new born baby
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The rock formations and colours
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Golden Brown Baboon spider
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Large Leaved rock fig (small tree still)
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My favourite!!!
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My favourite too!!!
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Mark and the Buffaloes
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Leadwood stump
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The leadwood stump and I...
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Lowveld Milkberry Tree
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:popcorn:

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