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 Post subject: Re: Mphongolo Back Pack Trail
Unread postPosted: Thu Sep 23, 2010 12:36 pm 
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Have read it..... Just gave away your identity :hmz: :whistle:

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 Post subject: Re: Mphongolo Back Pack Trail
Unread postPosted: Wed Nov 17, 2010 10:08 am 
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Lets keep this great thread going -

I read on another thread that the trail season ended prematurely due to water pollution from animal carcasses that had died due to anthrax .

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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: Sun Dec 26, 2010 9:19 am 
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Location: On the Congo River estuary...
Hi there

I thought I knew my way around the SANPS webpages,but I cannot find "Official" listing for this BPT?

Can only find info for Olifants BPT.

Whats is the cost, and can an individual book for a particular trail, as the situation for a Wilderness trail? Or must you book and pay as a "group" ....

If this info was supplied in the earlier posts, my apologies

Thanks

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KNP: 03 Jan to 12 Jan 14 (Berg n Dal, PKop, Croc Bridge)
KNP 10 May to 17 May 2013 (Malelane, Satara, Skukuza)
KNP 16 July to 26 July 14 (Croc Bridge, Tamboti, L Sabie )


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 Post subject: Re: Mphongolo Back Pack Trail
Unread postPosted: Sun Dec 26, 2010 3:43 pm 
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Fizzpop You can maybe find some answers to your questions Here

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 Post subject: Re: Mphongolo Back Pack Trail
Unread postPosted: Fri Jan 07, 2011 7:46 am 
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Some info that you might enjoy.

Mphongolo Wilderness Back Pack Trail

The far north of the kruger national park is well know for its elephant and buffalo population, mopani trees and baobabs. what is not well know is that it has incredible diversity in animal and plant life, the best opportunities for experiencing wilderness and solitude and there is vast tracks of land that have never been explored by tourist that come to the park.
The best description of the area is “Mananganaga”.Mananga meaning wilderness in Shangane and Manangananga is used for the description of wilderness in its purest form, punctuating the vastness and size. The area is Kruger parks largest Wilderness area and extends from north of the Shingwedzi river to a buffer zone just south of the Punda tourist road(H13) with the Shisha and Mphongolo rivers forming the eastern boundary.
The western boundary is a management road a couple of Km in from the park boundary.

Mananga or Wilderness is an area where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled
(Meaning not subject to human controls and manipulation that hampers the free play of natural events) by man, where man himself is a visitor and does not remain.. ..
retained its primeval character and influence….without improvements and human habitation… protected and managed so as to preserve its natural conditions… affected by forces of nature… outstanding opportunities for solitude, primitive and unconfined recreation and is of sufficient size to make practicable its preservation and use in a unimpaired condition
Wilderness (environment of solitude) is a natural mental resource having the same basic relation to mans ultimate thought and culture as coal, timber, oil, gold and other physical resources have to his mental needs

Ref: Leopold , Aldo 1949. A sand county Almanac. Reprint 1982. Oxford University press. New York

Nash, Roderick 1982. Wilderness and the American mind. Yale University press, New Haven Connecticut

Humans have always been part of wilderness it is only since they have become mechanized that our impact on the environment has become lasting. Only by cutting our ties with the modern world can we once more enjoy and appreciate the environment without causing long lasting disturbances. Primitive man could live in the environment without causing unnatural effects, and was part of the environment. Primitive people were at one with nature. Being just as important as any other organism, playing his role as a scavenger, hunter gatherer

Backpacking is the perfect opportunity to encourage an appreciation of natural processes and, impart the value of the wilderness setting for personal growth and human understanding. By being self sufficient you can start to enjoy the wonderful opportunities that only wilderness can provide. Hiking in solitude with no other traces of man and the freedom of going were you please with no time restraints or deadlines you can live and appreciate nature as one of its own creations again and maybe relive the peace and tranquility of our ancestors.

The diversity of the geology provides several different habitats for wildlife and some of the most spectacular sights. Warm water springs, that have water throughout the year, beautiful koppies, tall mopani forest and the most amazing specimens of other trees like Nyalatreas and Leadwood’s that you can’t help taking your hat of in respect to their age.
With this bounty of botanical wanders you will be right in assuming that nature has blessed this wilderness with it’s more than bountiful bird life.

Visitors to this area will notice that the area is completely different to the places that they visit along the tourist roads when they drive threw the north, Mopane/redbushwillow woodlands with massive Alluvial plains rather than the mopane scrub that they would be used to.

The area boast a richness of cultural history for any South African whether u a descendant of Shoshangane, Van Riebeek or a subject of the queen all of our ancestors have had their fare share of run-ins in this area and have left us with just enough to keep us wandering.

Extract from a trails diary:
Day 2 Mphongolo trail- woke up with the Francolins. Packed up camp and cleaned the fire place. Decided with the group that it would be grate to try and track the lions that we had heard during the evening, Found their track 2km from our camp and tracked them for another 5km before resting for lunch in the shade of a Nyalatrea close to Pondo hills. After lunch pitched camp close to the waterhole and had a swim. Continued tracking the lions in the afternoon as we knew they weren’t far of,700m later we found them still sleeping in the shade of some Mlala palms and snuck up on them. After we snuck away again we continued for 1.5 km upstream along the Bububu to a seep were we found a nice tusker having a drink with a small group of younger bulls in the background. On our way back to our camp we met with our friends Mr. Leo and co. unexpectedly and they made of in the direction of camp. During the night we heard our friends, and the hyenas laughing at the king for his hasty retreat, some ellies came close but avoided the camp.

Discription: and things you need to know about the trail

The Mphongolo Trail is a primitive Back Packing Trail which starts from Shingwedzi Camp and is conducted in the large wilderness area between the Shingwedzi and Mphongolo rivers. The trail stretches over 4 days and three nights, with departures every Wednesday and Sunday between 1 February and 30 November. This trail allows its participants to spend three nights in this wilderness area without having the constraints of having to get to the next point or of following a prescribed route. The trail allows the trail leader to decide when & where to camp and how far & which route to follow. Hikers can leave their cars at Shingwedzi Camp in the designated parking area. The activity will be conducted by two experienced Trails Rangers and the maximum number of participants will be kept to eight people per trail with a minimum of 4 people. Guests are expected to provide their own camping equipment and food for the duration of the trail. There are no overnight huts on this trail. As the safety of hikers is of major importance, all participants have to bring tents and sleep in them every night while they are walking the trail. Participants will be responsible for setting up their own tents and for cooking their own food. No rubbish bins or toilets are provided at any of the overnight stops and the trail operates on a strictly “take it in, take it out” basis and strictly adheres to a “no trace camping” ethic. Please only use biodegradable products – soaps and detergents – on the trail.


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 Post subject: Re: Mphongolo Back Pack Trail
Unread postPosted: Mon Mar 28, 2011 2:28 pm 
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the first back pack trail for the season have just come back from the field and we can await some wonderful stories from the guides.


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 Post subject: Re: Mphongolo Back Pack Trail
Unread postPosted: Thu Mar 31, 2011 4:26 pm 
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The time had finally arrived for two super excited guides and eight trailists to venture into the Mphongolo Wilderness for the first time in the 2011 season.

Day 1. After our initial meeting and briefing we were loaded onto the open game drive vehicle and transported to the northern part of the Mphongolo Loop, just north of Shingwedzi Rest Camp. We were dropped off between Sandpiper and Tomlinson windmills on the sandy Phugwane River. The heat was intense, but the excitement urged us westwards in search of water and adventure. It was rather evident that we were the only animals moving during this, rather warm, part of the day. We had to frequent the shade as the water breaks eliminated any signs of dehydration.
Ahead of the group two young elephant bulls crossed the dry riverbed. They must have picked up our scent as they crossed the open area with confidence, while still very much alert. Behind them small bird parties crashed to the sandy riverbed – water!
Tents popped up in a flash as we selected a suitable camping area in the shade of some Apple leaf trees on the southern side of the riverbed. We did not have to dig deep for clean water; the rain season was kind. The camp fire flickered as we watched the river and trees light up; it was the day after full moon and the vernal equinox. The first day of autumn had arrived and the lions near our camp celebrated the change of season loudly all night long.

Day 2. It had to be an early rise as spikes would once again dish out some punishment. We loaded our backpacks and travelled North West towards the hot water springs of Mfayeni and Matilayovila. We had covered the distance by 10:00, but the friendly greetings we received from Warthog and Impala at Mfayeni water point had to be left behind. This water was not suitable for consumption and we needed to travel towards Matilayovila (the water that boils). A dense stand of Tambotie trees provided us with a suitable camping site near the spring. Animal life was rather reserved although the bird life was phenomenal around this little oasis. The afternoon walk was pleasant as we enjoyed a light rain shower before locating an elephant bull. The large Mopane trees created a cathedral like atmosphere, something that reminded me of Moremi in Botswana. The hyeanas were fairly active at night, but we had no unwelcome visitors to our camp that night.

Day 3. It was time to pack up and head back towards the river. We rambled down a well walked elephant path, hot on the heels of a male leopard. As we entered the shade of a large Jackalberry tree on the banks of the Phugwane, three Verraux’s Eagle Owls were flushed and settled in some large trees on the opposite bank of the river. Two Wahlberg’s Eagles were not pleased as they continually mobbed the large Owls. The attention was just too much and the Owls had to evacuate the area. Around the corner we bumped into a few grey giants, we couldn’t really tell how many there were, the vegetation was rather thick and we had to focus on the six Elephants that were visible and closest to us. We managed to get a rather average view of them, but the extent of the herd was very apparent when they crossed the riverbed near our water point later that afternoon. A great big breeding herd of approximately 40 animals passed before us. On our way further east in the late afternoon suitable camping sites were plentiful but water was scarce. It took extra effort to locate water, but we all understood the nature of the trail at this stage and each participant will never look at their tap in the kitchen basin in the same again. What a convenience it has proved to be!
The lions were vocal all night long.

Day 4. Sometimes nature is kind enough to share a special moment. This morning we would be at the right place at the right time. I had already started searching for a suitable breakfast site from the southern bank of the Phugwane River when movement, amongst the sedges, in the riverbed caught the corner of my eye. It was rather typical of the illusive cat, dropping down at the first sight of something unfamiliar or threatening. However the leopard didn’t have much cover , I was rather nervous that he would disappear before everyone could get a glimpse. Rather unexpected he casually stood up and started walking in our direction, completely relaxed. He was heading for a wide tributary just in front of us. We waited for him to enter the tributary and then moved forward to get a better view from right above him. There we were, locked in a staring match at about twenty meters apart with a perfect view of each other. He seemed to grow bored of us first and leisurely strolled into the thickets higher up the tributary – thanks for sharing!

We were collected at 10:00 and rather sad to be leaving the wilderness.

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"Keep the Wind in your face, the Sun on your back and the Wilderness deep in your heart".


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 Post subject: Re: Mphongolo Back Pack Trail
Unread postPosted: Thu Mar 31, 2011 5:14 pm 
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Brenden, Welcome to the forum and thanks for a full and interesting report on a fantastic trail with some awesome sightings. :clap: :dance:

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 Post subject: Re: Mphongolo Back Pack Trail
Unread postPosted: Thu Mar 31, 2011 7:04 pm 
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Ai... NOW we are talking! I simply can't wait to do my 2nd backpack trail.... LESS THAN 4 WEEKS TO GO! This time around we're just a little bit better prepared and know what to expect!! Just awesome... Did some rough 'training' with my old man last saturday, did a stiff 6,5km hike with 18km in 3 hours and 20 min. OK that was a little bit extreme, the hills kind of took all life out of me, but rather a hard training session. Will mean the Backpack Trail is going to be a 'breeze' haha :)

Just a question, what is general recommendation for the amount of water we should take with. Spkoe to some guides who did the Mphongolo last year, told me the norm is 4/5 litre? Judt a bit diffrent than the Olifants as there is no constant steady river for watering purposes... Will still miss those Olifants river baths at 4 o'clock though!!

Looks like I'll try to stick to 16/17kg, maybe a bit heavy but I need a whole 'pick a pay' hehe... Just have to buy may gaiters, then I'm sorted.

AWESOME that these guys saw leopard on foot on the first trial of 2011. Nevertheless, the bush experience itself is simply enough for me, and it will take some time to get back to earth after this whole adventure. Welcome to the formus too Brenden, and hope you will entertain us with pics aswell some time?? I think we'll do a fundraising for Katamboega :twisted: : Camera equipment... :tongue:

Thanks for the update :thumbs_up:

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Letaba 8 July, Shipandane 9 July, Shingwedzi 10 - 14 July :D


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 Post subject: Re: Mphongolo Back Pack Trail
Unread postPosted: Fri Apr 01, 2011 10:25 am 
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:thumbs_up: Brenden , thank you for sharing , for a pleasant read and for transporting me to where my heart wants to be !

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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: Mon Apr 18, 2011 2:52 pm 
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So, Hans and I found ourselves in the heart of the Mphongolo Wilderness once again. It was a hot Wednesday afternoon and the scattered thundershowers from the previous night made excellent work of increasing the humidity to uncomfortable levels. We were dropped off at Shibauwene on the western extent of the Mphongolo River as our plan was to head straight towards the hot springs of Malahlapanga.

"This is the Mphongolo Wilderness and we need to treat it like a powerful stranger; we must ask permission to know it and be known" I rehearsed as we started walking. It is easy to become too confident out here.

Day 1: The heat was definitely a limiting factor over the first stretch, but nevertheless we came across a large gang of Banded Mongoose and a couple of Impalas. The game paths were littered with Elephant and White Rhino tracks and the area had a good energy. It was not long before we reached the pan-like expanse of Malahlapanga and our camping site for the first two nights. A second glance across the open area revealed a lone White Rhino bull grazing peacefully at the other end – perfect! As the sun and hikers were settling, a small breeding herd of Elephants came down to drink, luckily they didn’t hang around for too long as we had to collect water from the same source before dark. The first night was quiet with the exception of a single Leopard call in the distance.

Day 2: At least we beat the Sun to it, but I would have to lie if I said the group’s rising was as impressive as that of the Sun. Southbound we travelled with the lighter and smaller daypacks as we crossed impressive sodic sites along the Malahlapanga drainage line. We encountered Kudu and Zebra before settling in the shade for a breakfast break. It was heating up rapidly and we had a short while left to explore before the sun would force us to stop and rest.
It was a long, but peaceful afternoon in the shady riverbed – a perfect time to reflect and gain insight.
The large elephant path guided us right back to camp. It was time to refill water bottles and start our afternoon routine. We were pleasantly interrupted by a large herd of Buffalo feeding at one of the vegetation islands on the open area. The wind and sun was in our favour and we could find cover behind the Mopane trees close by. We made a silent approach and before long were locked in a standoff with this impressive breeding herd. Their nerve snapped before ours and we advanced a little as the Buffalo retreated. Round 2 - once again they decided to move off, but this time they didn’t return.
We continued back to camp and relaxed in our natural Jacuzzi before dark and filling our bellies. It was a clear and quiet night.

Day 3: Camp was packed up and we were ready to head east along the Mphongolo River. The river does not flow at this time of the year, but it holds large pools of water. The surrounding terrain is magical and I will surely miss the point if I try to express it in words. We picked up some Black Rhino tracks along a well walked animal path. General game was plentiful and the bird life superb. Shortly after our breakfast break we located another White Rhino bull, we had relatively good views, but he moved deeper into the thicker vegetation. We had hardly left the sighting when we were met by another breeding herd of Buffalo. We worked our way around to settle in the shaded riverbed where we could dig for cool water in the sand.
The river narrowed as we travelled further east that afternoon. General game was once again plentiful and a female leopard had to dash from her cover just in front of us as we unsuspectedly approached. We had located the perfect camp spot for our final night.
The quiet night was handed over to the lions that overwhelmed it with their calls all night long.

Day 4: The overcast weather brought some relief to the otherwise warm time on trail. We tried to search for the Lions, but we could only locate their fresh tracks momentarily. It was already time to head for the firebreak and our pick up point as we greeted the Wilderness.

Until we have the pleasure of meeting you again Mphongolo.

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"Keep the Wind in your face, the Sun on your back and the Wilderness deep in your heart".


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 Post subject: Re: Mphongolo Back Pack Trail
Unread postPosted: Mon Apr 18, 2011 3:01 pm 
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:thumbs_up:

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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: Mon Apr 18, 2011 7:25 pm 
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Thanks for sharing Brenden!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


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 Post subject: Re: Mphongolo Back Pack Trail
Unread postPosted: Mon Apr 18, 2011 7:28 pm 
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I would like to know if the trails are safe! I heard via the grapevine that a PE attorney was attacked by a Elephant last year. This was the second time this has happened to this poor woman. A friend told me it was due to ranger negligence.


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 Post subject: Re: Mphongolo Back Pack Trail
Unread postPosted: Mon Apr 18, 2011 8:47 pm 
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Hi folks

Just read Brendon's trip report :clap: will be experincing the same in exactly two weeks time :pray:
I would however appreciate any tips/advice from forumites who have done the hike with regard as to what should/shouldnt i take along.Have read up as much as possible since making my booking in July last year but still unsure :doh:


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