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Unread postPosted: Fri Aug 31, 2007 3:41 pm 
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Hi Everyone

Thanks for the feedback. BB's stats are probably close to the actual. There has only been one serious injury on a trail - the said rhino incident from Biyamiti a few year's back - and very few minor injuries. I have been here for almost five years now and I only know of three animals killed under these circumstances - this elephant now, an elephant on a Skukuza morning walk and an elephant on the Lebombo Overland Eco Trail.

There have been other animals shot to protect human life but these have been on our ranger patrols (ie not tourism activities).

I spoke to KNP Activities Manager again today about the incident and this subject in general and he is again confident that the aim or goal is to prevent human injuries/fatalities in those situations which the guide, in this case, was certainly able to do. A human life is and will always be worth more than an animal (no matter how much we love animals) and this is the basic principle our guides live and work by on these activities.

Hi Cougar

Although Bucky is more or less correct, it is a seasonal thing too that more animals are found near rivers. This is winter and the Olifants River is a major source of water for all creatures in the KNP (including people). It therefore makes sense that walks will encounter more animals (particularly elephant) near the rivers at this dry time of year.

When the KNP's tourist road network was laid out, one of the primary considerations was the access to water which is why the roads follow our major rivers for relatively long distances.

After the rains, the animals will actually move back into the veld and it is often very difficult to find animals during December/January/February for this reason. What we call veldwater is commonly found (even in the mountains around Berg en Dal).

These trails are only operated during the winter months for two simple reasons - its not fun walking in the rain (in spite of what that old singer says) and secondly it is too hot and we worried that people might suffer heat exposure.

Kind regards
KNP Spokesman

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Unread postPosted: Fri Aug 31, 2007 11:05 pm 
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It is true that there seldom is a serious incident that leads to injury of humans on walks.

It is important to remember that animals actually see humans as a danger. We are the number one predator and they tend to avoid us. I often say that I feel a lot safer walking in the bush than walking in the city!

Incidents usually happen where a situation arise where they cannot avoid us, and they feel threatened. Say you surprise a buffalo in the reeds, or a sleeping rhino. Now they feel they can't flee, so they have to fight!

There are of course exceptions, and these animals you as a guide are trained to avoid. These would include, predators feeding, most animals with young, an elephant bull in musth etc.

As for the training of guides in Kruger. I can assure you that there are some of the most experienced and capable people in the industry that handle the training. I do not know all the guides, but I have utmost confidence in the trainers.

Proper training is critical, because that prevents humans from making silly mistakes. Often where a situation do arise, it is purely the guides (and sometimes the guests) fault. You find some guides (and now I am not speaking about any SANPARKS guides) who are too macho and pushes a situation too far to impress the guests. Others think they know everything because they have spent some time in the bush, or become blaze and sloppy.

Still others rely too much on their guns! As a guide you should always handle a situation as if you are un-armed! Your gun should be the last resort! Rather rely on knowledge and cunning to handle a situation. (Maybe that is why there are so few incidents in the parks) Having said that ... if you must shoot you must be able to shoot fast, accurate and without hesitation. :wink:

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Unread postPosted: Tue Sep 11, 2007 4:30 pm 
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Does anyone have any special tips that may help to make the most of this trail?

Some questions

Will we take turn to "stand guard" over the camp at night (how cool), or does everyone just retire to their tents?

Are there opportunities to follow own interests (say take a walk out of the overnight area to find an owl or some thing [with ranger/guide no doubt]) or is the group held pretty much together the whole time?

Is it much the same as a wilderness trail, only no cook, hut etc?

Thanks


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 Post subject:
Unread postPosted: Tue Sep 11, 2007 5:37 pm 
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Maussie, I have not done the trail but I have spoken to a couple of rangers who have lead the trail.
Their advice to me was, keep fit. Pack carefully, don't take what you don't need and take water purifying tablets. Keep well hydrated, make sure that you know and like your fellow hikers. Try to take something for the ground to make sleeping comfortable.
A lot of the trail is in completely "virgin" territory, so there is always the danger of a twisted ankle. Also, carrying all your own gear along this uneven terrain demands a lot of stamina. The one ranger said that his biggest problem was dealing with the heat, as it hard work in high temperatures.
As far as I know, you are kept pretty close together at all times. If anyone needs to "use the spade", the ranger will check for safety and stand discreetly "on guard".
The one ranger advised to take instant noodles and John West tuna. Oatsoeasy was also easy to carry and mix, as were mueslie health bars. I think one can also get individual packets of Pronutro (my choice).

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Unread postPosted: Wed Sep 12, 2007 7:53 am 
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Very good advice from MM there. Before you leave the guides weigh your pack and if its too heavy you will have to unpack unecessaryt items, so take only the essential. Even though they start off early its already quite hot by 7-8 am in the warmer months. I would suggest you do this trail in the cooler months if you can, ie May-August. I'm not 100% sure but I don't think it is open mid-summer. I'm sure the guides will accommodate special interests, ask them before hand. You will not be able to walk off on your own as you pitch your tents wherever the guides find a good spot - you're pretty exposed to the wildlife - you will be kept together at all times.

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Unread postPosted: Wed Sep 12, 2007 8:54 am 
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We are booked for 31 October, so heat will be a factor.


In that case, make sure everyone has lots of water, energy-rich snacks, a wide brimmed hat, light clothing, sunscreen and comfortable, well walked-in hiking shoes/boots.

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 Post subject:
Unread postPosted: Wed Nov 07, 2007 10:11 am 
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Did this trail last week.

Many things make this a special experience, but the feeling of being at one with nature is the overriding impression.

The look a mother elephant gave us as she stood protectively in front of her day old calf made me realise that I was part of her world and not just a spectator looking out of a window.

Camping overnight and passing several hours swimming and relaxing in the river brought me closer to this environment than I have ever been, in fact on the last day it was with curiosity rather than fear that I watched a snake slither past my foot as I relaxed in the shade.


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 Post subject: Olifants river back-packing trail
Unread postPosted: Mon Mar 09, 2009 3:37 am 
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I would like to make this comment for a backpacking trip me, my wife and two daughters took along the Olifants River. We are from the United States and I highly recommend taking this trip if you have plans to see Kruger National Park or even if you are a regular visitor.

We were the first trip for the year 2008 and our guides, Donovan and Michael gave us complete confidence in all situations we faced. Other than living near or in the park, I cannot imagine any other way to really experience Kruger.

The amount of information received from our guides on insects, plants, birds and mammals was exceptional. Every day we saw a variety of insects--globe spiders, praying mantis, Elegant Grasshopper, dung beetles--plants--camas plant, huge fig trees, apple leaf trees, mopane--birds--Goliath Herons, wagtails, blacksmith plover, francolin, Grey Lourie, brown-headed parrots--larger animals--elephants, hippo, waterbuck, impala, cape buffalo, zebra, crocodile, giraffe. And on one day we had time to observe a pack of seven wild dogs across the river, unaware of our presence.

To sit on a sandbar as the sun is setting in all its beauty and listen to the sounds of the bush, the sounds of a troop of baboon, the vocalizations of the hippo, the call of a large variety of birds, and the roar of a lion as he calls in the night, and as luck would have it, headed towards our camp, can never be forgotten.

I would like to say that if the opportunity to visit the park comes your way, "Do it!" and make the Olifants back-packing trip part of your agenda. (My wife made all the arrangements online from the US without any problems.)


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 Post subject: Re: Olifants River back-packing trip
Unread postPosted: Tue Mar 10, 2009 3:21 am 
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Hi G@mespotter,
I would recommend two good water purifiers as the water was high and quite dirty. I would also bring some purifying tablets or drops also as we used both and had no ill effects from drinking the water. We purchased all the food we needed for the trip in Johannesburg.

The weather was quite warm for us as we had left the U.S. with temperatures around 20 degrees Fahrenheit. The high was around 90 degrees Fahrenheit and the lows maybe 50 deg.F. We always took a break at midday.

SANDCRK


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 Post subject: Re: Olifants River Back-pack Trail
Unread postPosted: Tue May 19, 2009 8:37 pm 
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For a detailed report on the Olifants Backpack Trail, read the first part of The Beauty of Nature Revealed III, which has a thorough discription, tips, pictures and even short video's about this AMAZING Backpack Trail :D

Feel free to PM me for any questions regarding such trail.

:thumbs_up:

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 Post subject: Re: Phalaborwa Gate Sightings
Unread postPosted: Sat May 30, 2009 5:15 pm 
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Location: OLIFANTS REST CAMP (KNP)
:D The Olifants River Back Pack Trail report which everyone were waiting for...

I drove to Olifants Rest Camp early Wednesday morning and found 2 African Hawk Eagles sitting in a tall tree and not far from them I got 5 Wild Dogs in the road, and after passing them they started running after the vehicle, but soon realised this animal is too fast and I left them behind.

I picked Jacques up at Letaba and welcomed our 7 gentlemen at Olifants, loaded all their back packs and off we went. All the way back to Phalaborwa Gate, down the fence line and arrived at the Cul de Sac around 11:00 and started walking about 11:30.

Not far in, we got fresh Black Rhino tracks and dung and lots of Hippos. We walked about 9 km's and saw a Giraffe, Impalas, Waterbuck, Kudus, Bushbuck and then pitched up all our tents. We went for a cool bath and prepared our supper below the cloudy weather.

The Thursday morning we woke up at 05:30 and left Camp 1 around 07:00. Up and down through the side streams, watching Hippos and Hippos watching us and close to our breakfast spot we enjoyed the Baboon troops communicating with each other, 1 troop on the Northern side and 1 troop on the Southern side of the River. Ai it was amazing!!!! Had our breakfast and proceeded the walk.

After our lunch we got a Elephant nearby and viewed it, before we left it in peace. Got another few Waterbuck, Giraffe, Impalas and lots of Leopard tracks.

We pitched up camp 2 about 16 km's from the previous spot, which was situated further away from the rapids, to listen at the night sounds and had a Hippo visiting us, while watching the beautiful night skies. After the Hippo left we went and sat down around the fire and as we went to bed the Lions roared all night long.

Friday morning we decided to sleep in a little bit, but everyone were up at 05:50 listening at the Lions moving further away as they roared. It was a much hotter day with the sun shining bright and a few clouds around and not cloudy and cool weather as the previous 2 days.

We had breakfast and then started walking for about 8 km's until we had our lunch break just after we found a African Rock Python and Mosambican Spitting Cobra. We viewed lots of White Backed Vultures flying on the Southern bank of the River, and wished we could get there to see if there is a kill...

The last stretch we walked for the day was about 5 km's and had a Elephant coming to investigate the funny Human voices at 1 of our water breaks and had to shout at him as he wanted to charge and he replied a bit louder with his trumpeting noise before he turned and moved into the bush. We also got a Hippo sleeping under some Red spike thorn bushes and a Giant Kingfisher with a big fish in his beak. For Friday evening we put up camp on the dry sand bank in the River and ai we had a stunning Sunset with a great Night Sky and 2 Hippos testing each other's patience with Humans in the area.

Every morning it was a bit chilly and felt the coldness of the early hours of dawn and tried to climb deeper into the sleeping bag, but then an hour later we woke up again.

This morning we had about 9 km's to walk and got beautiful Lion tracks, lots of Leopard tracks a Hippo that returned late to the River and a young Pels Fishing Owl!!! What an amazing sighting it was!!!

We finished the trail off with a big herd of Elephants, and had to be very cautious as we eventually got around them.

It was another unforgettable experience, and nice to see a toilet and shower again...

Hope the Blue Bulls win the Super 14 tonight!!!

Until next time... :D

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 Post subject: Re: Phalaborwa Gate Sightings
Unread postPosted: Wed Jun 17, 2009 5:20 pm 
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Location: OLIFANTS REST CAMP (KNP)
:D :D
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!!!! :D

The pictures will follow!!! :D

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 Post subject: Re: Phalaborwa Gate Sightings
Unread postPosted: Wed Jun 17, 2009 9:05 pm 
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Everyone - Pics from Lourens!
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My Olifants River Back Pack Trail from the 14th to 17th of June 2009 pictures.


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 Post subject: Re: Olifants River Back-pack Trail
Unread postPosted: Wed Jul 01, 2009 9:30 am 
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Greetings Back Packers

This is one of the most amazing trails around, the river is amazing to walk along. The riverine vegetation is something to see, there are some places along the river which can in my view only be described as an enchanted forest.

The possability to see the big 5 is there if that is what you are after. The chance of seeing the pels fishing owl is there. i've also seen cape clawless otter on one of my trail.

Everytime i do the trail there is something new to see and experience.
It is just amazing!!!!!

Any question about the trail please ask.

Cheers


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 Post subject: Re: Olifants River Back-pack Trail
Unread postPosted: Thu Jul 23, 2009 8:54 pm 
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Ive done this trail twice, april 2007 and Aug 2008. I believe its the ultimate way to see kruger. You may not see as much big game, but the birding scenery and informative guides make up for it.

And lying on a sand bank in the middle of the olifants river at sunset, is something really special and unforgettable.

Im going to continue going until i see the elusive black rhino who's spoor is so abundant on the last 2 days.

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2 x Olifants river back packers trails completed


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