I left Phalaborwa Gate at 05:50 and met Jannie Jurgens who I have done the Sandriver Bush Camp with, at Skukuza last year May, remember?? at Olifants and we waited for our guests.
Eventually the 8 young gentlemen arrived after 08:00, welcomed them, got all the paperwork done, loaded the Back Packs into the trailer, told the 8 young gentlemen to take a seat and off we went to start our Olifants River Back Pack Trail.
We found lots of Elephants, Giraffes and common game to our starting point.
Jannie gave them the briefing and started walking at around 11:30. It was hot, but something everyone was waiting for, for a long time.
We started off with some Impalas, Sharpes Grysbok, Hippo's, Kudus, and after a few kilometres or so, a Elephant Bull appeared from no where with us standing in his way, he quickly came closer, ears open and head raised, I quickly showed the guests to go down the Riverbank and within that second or 2, Jannie and I loaded the Rifles, shouted at the Elephant and luckily he stopped and gave us a second to get the guests out of the way before he came running towards us and came to an halt about 20 metres from us, the 2 of us kept on shouting and clapping hands and the Elephant just listening at these funny adrenaline pumping voices. Jannie took the guests around the Elephant while I was busy following each and every move of this big hairy beast, and then he decided to charge again, I shouted, loaded the rifle again and made sure we got out of there very quickly. We decided that it was enough for 1 day, so we got our first camping spot after tracking some Lions, but couldn't find them.
We put up camp and we all went for a bath and enjoyed the fire and the stories that went around about what everyones thoughts were about our afternoon's exercise.
The next morning, Monday morning we left camp around 07:00 and tried to do as much kilometres before it is too hot and had our breakfast at a Hippo pool and was very nice watching them, while enjoying breakfast.
After we filled our stomachs Jannie took us over a little Hill and followed the River when we got some Waterbuck, Kudus, Impalas and had a waterbreak when we found a Buffalo on the other side of the River and at our lunch spot a Elephant Bull, drinking water.
Not far from there we got a Buffalo and we surprised him a little bit, but luckily he jumped up and ran away very quickly. We went down into the River and got a nice grassy sandbank which we used as our second night's camping spot and we were in bed just after 8.
Yesterday morning, Tuesday morning we didn't know when we woke up this day is going to bring such excitement!!!
After we found a big Crocodile we got fresh Lion tracks, and wasn't sure how far ahead they were and where they are, but they are going into the direction we were walking to and guess what happened next...
We got 3 Hippo's in the River and while telling Jannie, this is the spot where the Elephant gave me and Jacques a mock charge on my previous trail Jannie spotted the Lions!!!
They ran up the slope, with us quickly running after and the gentlemen thought we are running from the Hippo's I turned around and shouted Lions!!!
Unfortunately Jannie and I were the only ones to get a quick glimpse at them again, but with no luck we ever found them again.
Had our breakfast next to the River watching 2 Elephant Bulls and another small herd crossing the River we proceeded our walk after our break and found some Giraffe, Bushbuck, Klipspringers, Fish Eagles, Bateleurs, 2 Giant Eagle Owls and stopped for lunch and put up our last camp not far from there.
After a stunning Sunset it became dark quickly with all of us starting the fire and moving around the tents, the 1 guest called me, asking which eyes are there...
Got Jannie to come and have a look, and we decided on Leopard, he watching us for a while, while we got our cooking pots and supper we went and sat around the fire, saying no 1 goes to their tents alone. Now and then we used the torches and still he was there, but eventually disappeared.
This morning we went to the spot to confirm that it was a Leopard, the tracks clearly showed where it was sitting and lying, while watching us and took off after some curiousity.
Luckily this morning we got back safe at the end point, but had the chance to track some fresh Lion spoor and viewed about 70 Elephants drinking water at the end point before the vehicle came to fetch us.
Ai man!!! All I can say, the trail brought lots of scary moments, but everything was worth while and the 8 gentlemen from Johannesburg will always have a story to tell!!!!
The pictures will follow!!!