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 Post subject: Wilderness Trails - FAQ
Unread postPosted: Mon Aug 01, 2005 6:48 am 
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What is walking in the bush?
Walking in the bush is like I have described previously an amazing and totally different experience to explore Kruger.

What should I take along?
No need to take extra water as the guides have more than enough water in their rucksacks.
You'll have breakfast snacks in the veldt too, provided by the guides.

Also take along camera and video camera, binoculars, hat, sun block, comfortable shoes, preferably with ankle support.
You can take photos anytime and the guides will confirm that.
Just make sure that the shutter noise is off as some animals react to it.
Always adhere to the guide's rules and commands.

Food on trails
Breakfast snacks consisted out of boerewors, nuts, apples, peanuts, gum sweets, provitas and cheese and fruit juice. The breakfast snacks only are the case for day walks too.

Brunch consisted out of bacon or pork sausages or both, scrambled eggs, toast, onion and tomato mix and pap and juice.
Dinner was either steak and boerewors, chicken, stew and garlic bread, salad, pap.
Finished off with a fruit salad and custard.

One good question from a friend of mine: Does walking trails cater for halaal.
I suppose in one interested group it should be ok but in mixed groups I doubt.
You however are allowed to take your own food along.

The whole time coffee, tea, hot chocolate, biscuits and rusks were available.
Lovely!!

Safety on walks
I have done several walks including wilderness hikes in the Kruger.
The walks can be extremely dangerous if you ignore the rules of the bush, your guides who are clued up in protecting their customers and the animals explain which will all to you.

Like I have said before on this forum.
No tourist has been killed on such a walk.
There have been some very close calls though.
Walks are about 2-3 hours long and depending on the season can start from 5:30 to 6:30.
Heart problems, leg injuries and so forth might be a liability and it is best advised to contact your Dr. before attempting to do a walk in the bush.
Afternoon walks I have only done on wilderness hikes, which could be different from the normal ones and would therefore not advise on it.

I find that morning walks are better as it is still cool and more animals and yourself will be more active then.

Summer months are very wet and hot and ticks are a problem.
Wear comfortable shoes and sun block and a hat and take your binocs and camera with.
Bright or white colors are not recommended and so are motorized cameras.
Elephants and rhinos don't like the sound of it and it chases off other game.
A certain level of fitness is recommended but I know of an old man joining a walk with his cane.
But you will probably frustrate the others in the group.

We have experienced lions on very close quarters (50m away) and then listening to the guide is absolutely a must.
If you run you are seen as natural prey and will be taken after by a predator.
Stay behind the guides at all cost and keep quiet.
Click your fingers when you wants to attract the attention of the guides.

They normally carry 457/8 Winchesters, which is powerful enough to put a charging elephant down in its stride like a wet shammy cloth against a plastered wall.
If you are in front of them you are in the way and believe me when I say that you don't want one of those going off behind you.

Guides have the special skill of listening to warning signals like the oxpecker.
They also keep the wind in their favor and their sense of sight is unmatched by us poor mortals.

What to expect to see on walks
Don't expect to see the big 5 on walks.
Enjoy the smaller things like dung, trees, shrubs, grass, insects, birds and sounds etc.
Who knows you might be lucky to see some of the big stuff as well.

You should never expect to see more than what you will be seeing from a vehicle as animals normally run like hell to avoid this unknown creature coming their way.
They are far more comfy with cars and thus good sightings will always be possible from cars.
Rather look out for small detail, which you can't spot from cars. Spoor, dung, smaller animals, birds, insects. That is what walking is all about.
To experience the bush with all your senses.
Listen to your guides and share in their experience and knowledge.
Read some of my previously posted hiking and walking posts if you can.

But, there was many big 5 sightings on foot all over the Park throughout the years.
One of my best sightings was 13 lion cubs and a female 30-50m from us and a huge black maned about 60m off.
Roaring at us that made the earth shook.
You also get very close to Rhino due to their poor sight. 15-20 m from rhino is not unusual.

Cost of Wilderness trails
You can read up more on the Kruger Park activities page. Here

To book is the difficult part.
You will be very lucky to get an opening for a year or so in advance.
You have to request for a booking. Again see the url above.

How does it work?
It consists out of 8 visitors, 2 guides and a cook.
The camps are very secluded and rustic with no electricity!
You are picked up on a Wednesday or Sunday at the nearest camp and gets dropped off there again.
2 Walks a day. Morning (longest) and Afternoon (shorter).
On the morning walk you get breakfast snacks in the bush.
A sundowner drive to a waterhole etc. in the afternoon is not uncommon!!
It is breathtakingly beautiful!!

Everybody has got to do one at least in his or her lifetime! I love it!!

A bit more about my Bushman's trail experience and other trails
Wilderness trails

A bit more about Sweni trail
I did the Sweni trail last year in June.
Lovely trails camp with excellent views from almost all A-frame huts.
All huts have a little wooden deck with nice lay back chairs.

A view from the waterhole linking out of the Sweni stream from the fire area is awesome.
Hippos are present there.

The sweni area about 50000ha is excellent for almost all game species and is host to the Park's biggest lion concentration.
No wonder we had 2 prides roaring at each other on the first night on both ends of the camp.
They were so close that you could smell them and hear the intake of air, as they were about to roar.

The Sweni pride used to consist out of around 37 individuals.
I have experienced this awesome pride first hand.
We have tracked the two pride males fom a kill where they and the rest of the pride have devoured a kudu in double quick time during the cause of the night.
Very few was left of the kudu.

The sundowner spots are awesome alternating between a low water bridge and a lookout from a hilltop with a breathtaking view to the east.

The walks are conducted more on the flat open plains of the Sweni area.

Good sightings of lion, rhino and elephant were marked on the trail.
Awesome to see sometimes flocks of up to 30 ostriches.
Plenty of general game around which gives you the impression that anything can happen at anytime and causes some major adrenalin rushes.

Good spots to find these lions are in the Marabou windmill area as well as the Gudzweni dam.
But they go as far east as the Trichardt road.

Birding is quite prolific on this trail and we picked up a 103 species on the 3 days.

A truly lovely trail!!

A new walking experience in Kruger A new type of wilderness hike is going to be introduced in Kruger to cater for backpackers.
The trail will be in the Olifants area and will enable you to carry your own backpack with your own tent and food.
You will sleep in a different area on the trail every night with no fences around you, cooking your own food and bathing and swimming in sections of the Olifants river.

The first trail had a nice experience with a black rhino that almost tripped over one of the tents.
Awesome!!!!
Guess what I will be doing sometime when it gets the go ahead and I get a reservation

What weather is best for walking
The perfect weather for the walk is cool and cloudy weather.

A bit more about Bushman's trail
Isn't it amazing what the Kruger can provide?
The diversity of Kruger is absolutely incredible!!

It is amazing how many different types of animals occur in this vicinity.
The view from those mountains must be one of the most awesome sights in the Park.
Imagine standing up there and looking down below to c game moving around and then to decide to follow the rhino or elephant or lion or as what happened once, wild dogs.

To walk in an area of 45000 ha is amazing.
You can't believe how big the Park really is. Roughly the area of 35000 rugby fields.
Amazing hey? We saw the highest point in the Park!!

This trail is situated in one of the most scenic parts of the Park.
Rocky outcrops every now and then with some beautiful valleys in between, surrounded by some impressive small mountains.

The shear number of rhino and buffalo there is remarkable.
Klipspringers were seen on almost every koppie.

It is the only trails camp that has rondavel shaped sleeping accommodation.

There are 2 showers and 2 toilet facilities.
The ranger, assistant and cook have got their own facilities hidden a bit away on the other side of the camp.

The one toilet has got the loveliest view, right on the fence.
That is was I saw the elephant on the Thursday morning early.

The camp itself is fence with about a 4-5 foot wire fence, which only the first meter or so has cables running all around. The latter part of the height is normal wire.

There is a waterhole +- 30m from the fence just behind the lapa, which attracts plenty of game, as it is the only water facility in the immediate area.

The camp consists out of 4 rondawels, a lapa, a kitchen and a storage facility with deep freezers.

Just outside the lapa there is a fixed fireplace, which attracts semi sober hikers at nightfall.

The Wolhuter trails camp is the nearest other form of human habitation from this camp.

The trails camp is good for birding and crested francolin, pied barbet, arrow-marked babbler, green-backed cameroptera, southern boubou, grey go-away bird, green pigeon and cardinal woodpecker are frequently seen.
The tap and birdbaths just behind the lapa is a good spot to look for birds.

A typical day at all trails would look like this:
5:30 - awakened by assistant ranger with a friendly good morning who pours hot water in a small basin just outside the rondawel.
5:45 - arriving at the fireplace for coffee and rusks and a quick brief by the ranger on the walk.
6:00 - set out for the walk on foot form the camp.
6:30 - Watching the sunrise from a nearby hill.
8:30 - Having breakfast snacks on a hill or boulder overlooking the vast area.
Snacks include: apples, juice, boerewors, nuts, dried fruit, provitas, cheese and jelly beans.
11:00 - arriving back at camp and getting feed up and a drink or 2.
11:30 - Having a proper breakfast, which contains scrambled eggs, bacon, pork sausages, toast, juice and onions and tomatoes.
12:30 - off for siesta or waterhole watching or shower or whatever.
15:00 - meet for the afternoon walk, normally a short one accompanied by a drive to a spot where sundowners will be taken.
17:30 - walking back to the vehicle and after a short night drive arrive back at camp.
18:30 - Dinner consisting either out of stew, steak and wors or chicken followed by a treat afterwards like fruit and custard.
19:30 - Socializing around the campfire until whenever.


What to wear
As with all walks u r advised to wear neutral colors.
Whites are easy for animals to see. It will spoil your sightings. Green and blue seems fine.

Track suite pants aren't favorable, as it will get many things stocked into it. Grasses, “knapesekrels


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Unread postPosted: Thu Aug 04, 2005 6:20 pm 
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aga

I have been fortunate enough do do one of these trails.
I did the Napi trail before it burnt down.
One thing before everything else that you need to do is get yourself a very good pair of walking/trail boots, preferably waterproof as you might have to cross rivers or streams and if you are walking in the morning the dew on the grass will cause havoc.
make sure they come up to the ankles to give you support as you plod along on uneven ground. in my experience it is great to walk in shorts, but the bush is harsh and you can get scratches and scrapes, so it is probably best to were a comfy pair of khaki longs, they are cool and will protect you.
also try keeping the carry ons to a minimum.
binocs camera etc are great but they tend to get heavy around the neck.
if you are planning to take a few things buy a good quality small back pack, light weight will do the trick.

lastly listen all the time, not only to your ranger or guide, but to the sounds in the bush, it is awesome, a totally peaceful feeling. i
it is exciting as you walk in search of creatures in the wild.

And if you are lucky as I was, you might encounter lion, leopard, elephants and rhinos.
most of all enjoy the evenings around the camp fire, and the food is great to.
oh yes take drinks and snacks with you.


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Unread postPosted: Mon Aug 08, 2005 6:45 am 
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No real need to take any snacks or water with you as the Trails ranger and his assistant and 4 others in the group carry the breakfast snacks and plenty of water in the backpacks provided. I usually take a backpack with for my video camera and to put loose thing in like sunglasses and when starting out in the morning a long sleeve top, when it is still cool.

I always wear shorts. It gets very hot even in winter.

Wow great experience AR, thanks for sharing. Unfortunately the huts were rebuilt differently, but they are still lovely.

We have seen plenty of buffalo, rhino, elephants, lion, hippo and other general game, but never a leopard.

Some of the best sightings I probably had was that of a pride of 13 lion cubs, rhino 15m away and Pel's fishing owl. We have even been charged by hippos.

On my last trail at the bushman's I forgot my hiking boots at home and walked with rocky sandals. No problem whatsoever. It was actually very comfortable and nice and cool.

Ankle support is important though so don't follow my example, but it is doable. The paths are all game paths and the bushman's and Wolhuter trails includes climbing many hills and provides a very uneven terrain unlike the Sweni trail for instance.


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 Post subject:
Unread postPosted: Sat Oct 29, 2005 3:32 pm 
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WTM writes about the trails he did here.

The Metsi-Metsi looks quite nice.
Well to me it does.
The park is very dry at the moment, so if there is still water there, there will be lots of game there.

Quote:
The Metsi-Metsi Trail runs through the area east of the Mwarmuriwa Mountain near Tshokwane. The trail camp nestles at the foot of the mountain and overlooks a small waterhole. A hide provides the ideal place to view many species of birds and mammals at close range. The landscape varies from undulating savannah to rocky gorges and ravines. The Nwaswitsontso River, being one of the few permanent sources of water during the dry winter months, attracts an abundance of game especially elephant. A great variety of wildlife, including black rhino and large predators, can be found here.

Persons doing the Metsi-Metsi Trail are advised to book accommodation in Skukuza Camp the night prior to commencing the trail unless they can guarantee they will get to Skukuza by 15:30 on the day of departure.

Trails.


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Unread postPosted: Mon Oct 31, 2005 11:41 am 
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Like some of the others said.
Trails are surely not there to see animals.
You will see far lot more animals while driving around in Kruger.

Trails' have the specific target of enabling people to experience Kruger in a different way and concentrates way more on smaller things like flora, birds, insects, spoor, dung, bushman paintings and other things you would generally just whizzzz past in a car.

To come back to whether Metsi-Metsi and Napi is worthwhile.
Sure a definite yes!!
Napi is probably one of the only trails where you might encounter the "W@H unbelievable" Sable antelope.
It is situated in the PKop suurveld biome and hosts many secretive animals like serval, sable, hartebeest and others.

Metsi-Metsi is situated in excellent game country and vast herds of general game migrates through this area towards the Satara plains.

What must be remembered is that each and every trail is conducted in a different biome that the others.
To experience each of these in a different sense is something that money can't buy.

Even if you see no animals, the fact that you can experience the countless other views of nature is priceless!

The Sweni trail does host the biggest concentration of lion in the Park(I have read somewhere that it is even the biggest in Africa) and there are many encounters with them whilst on foot there with the one specific pride called very appropriately the Sweni pride.
This biome is dominated by plains and scattered acacias and leadwood trees.

Olifants again is conducted in close range with the Olifants river and secretive places like the Olifants ravine can be seen.

Does not matter where one is on a trail, don't go there with the mindset to see and find animals.
You might be disappointed if it didn't meet your expectations.
go there with an open mind and learn what the guides teach you about the signs and life of the Kruger bush. You never know, you might be one of those lucky visitors ticking off the big 5 then.

Go for it!! It is an experience of a lifetime!!

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Unread postPosted: Wed Nov 30, 2005 6:51 pm 
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New trails:

Machampane Wilderness Trail

Machampane Wilderness Trails Camp offers visitors an intimate encounter with wild Africa on foot.
The three-night/four-day trails are based at the luxury Machampane Camp, sited in a fabulous setting overlooking a small waterhole on the Machampane River in the Limpopo Park.
Guests walk out from camp every day guided by two armed rangers who not only protect the trailists, but also help interpret the scenery and cultural and ecological comings-and-goings they encounter along the way.
The camp sleeps a maximum of eight people, and it is not to be missed.
This includes all meals, transport in game drive vehicles from Kruger's Letaba Camp or Massingir in Mozambique and all entrance fees.
Not included are all drinks (including soft drinks), visa fees (not required for SA citizens), Kruger entrance and conservation fees and other personal items.
Trails commence on 1 November 2005.

Massingir Hiking Trail

Bookings are also open for the rugged Massingir Hiking Trail; the first trail is scheduled for March 2006.
This unique, four-night/five-day hiking trail through the Limpopo Park departs from the tree-lined shores of Massingir Dam and follows the Machampane River Gorge west.
A maximum of eight guests will be guided by experienced, armed rangers who will protect the trailists while serving as their guides, providing invaluable insight into the ecological functioning of their environment. Participants need to be relatively fit capable of hiking between 15 and 20 kilometres a day and self sufficient carrying in their own food, beverages, clothing and sleeping bags, while carrying out their refuse.
Each night is spent in a different camp, consisting of small, two-person tents on wooden platforms with a communal lapa were meals will be prepared around an open fire.
Basic ablution facilities, water for cooking and washing and firewood is provided.
The trail costs which includes transport from Letaba Camp in Kruger and Limpopo Park entrance fees.
This price does not include meals, snacks, drinks (including water), Kruger National Park conservation fees and accommodation, Mozambique border fees and visas (not required by SA citizens) and other personal items.

For reservations for both Machampane Trails Camp and the Massingir Hiking Trail, contact Bridget Bagley at SANParks in Pretoria on Tel. 012 426 5111 or e-mail bridgetb@sanparks.org or visit http://www.dolimpopo.com

www.peaceparks.org


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Unread postPosted: Mon Mar 06, 2006 6:18 am 
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Yes, you should only take what you require @ the Wilderness camp. The rest can be locked in the trunck of your vehicle in the camp where you depart from. It should be safe enough there.

As for the stuff you take along to the wilderness trails camp. you will leave it in your A-frame hut or in the case of the Boesman's trail a lil round rondavel when you go out on foot.

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Unread postPosted: Thu May 25, 2006 10:33 am 
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Bushmad wrote:
I have one more question. Are we able to bring our own food and Braai it ourselves? Is there a fridge in the trails camp to store certain items we may bring along?

Thanks again...


Yes you may indeed.

And yes there are huge fridges to store your stuff within.

Cheerio.

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Unread postPosted: Thu May 25, 2006 2:52 pm 
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Hi Bushmad
About bringing your own food, i'm sure that they won't object. They do have a set menu for the trip as well as a full time cook - maybe just advise them ahead of the time if you intend to do some of your own catering. (Our meals included at least one evening braai.)
They supply light snacks during the morning walk and it may be a good idea to take some cereal/energy bars/dry wors or the like if you want. You then return to base camp to enjoy a scrumtious brunch & then you have time to rest/read/shower before going on the afternoon/sunset walk & supper is served shortly after your return. Unless you have special meal requirements the best thing (especially for our ladies) is to sit back & do NOTHING :D
Apart from the fridge available, there is a cooler box with ice to have in your drinks, wine etc. It seems Amarula is the forum favourite :wink:

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 Post subject: Traisls & Morning walks - experiences
Unread postPosted: Sat May 27, 2006 12:38 pm 
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I have been fortunate enough to have done 3 wilderness trails:
Did the Olifants first - magnificent - and very appropriately almost got charged by an elephant :shock:
Our guide spotted the huge male & we headed to the little waterhole where we waited for him to come down for his drink.
He came down the slight embankment and then sensed our presence.... he stopped, smelling the air and then moved forward, a bit too close for comfort :pray:
Our guides shouted at him and pounded on the side of their rifles - our video footage has the barrel of the rifle clearly visible in the frame filled with one BIG elephant.
We stepped backwards and the giant reconsidered and slowly turned away.

On our second - the Nyalaland - it was a lone buffalo that caused our eyes to be as big as saucers.
Our gentle afternoon stroll next to the stream close to camp turned out to give us a major adrenaline surge. He came tearing out of the bushes just about two metres short of my dad, bringing up the rear of the group. The buffalo turned sharply and disappeared back into the bush.
Our guide said we were very lucky because they rarely turn away.
Needless to say we didn't go any further and quickly made our way back to our base camp.

On the Sweni we headed off on our morning drive & found 3 male lions next to the road.
We did our walk & returned to camp - all very uneventful.
That afternoon we didn't realise that the guide was taking us back to the area where we had seen the lion earlier.
We were circling back to the vehicle when we came across the area where the lion had slept that morning. The guide pointed out the flattened grass, spoor and relieved we thought they had moved off when suddenly... 3 big manes appeared out of the grass. :big_eyes:
We had startled the 3-some while they were sleeping.
Not sure whether us or them got the biggest fright.
The constant growling warned us that we were way too close, about 12 metres.
We retreated slowly until we were out of their comfort zone and finally reached the bakkie via a detour where a hyena awaited us, smelling at the tyres!
Can't wait for the next experience... Doing the Metsi-Metsi in April 2007 :D

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Unread postPosted: Mon Jul 03, 2006 10:38 am 
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robertliefhebber wrote:
Hi there,

We are ghoing on the Napi trail this july.
Does anyone know what kind of bag (rucksack) one should bring?

I don't want to mix my camera with my water... :wink:


Hi there. Lucky you for going on the trail! :wink:

A bag is not neccessary as there are 4 bags to be shared amongst the 8 trailists. But I always take my wo nto keep all my stuff in nevertheless. A smallish rugsack or something similar is hundreds! You don't need a too big a bag as the walk itself is not that long too carry oodles of stuff with you. The trails rangers provide water, but if you don't wanna share with someone else, then I suggest you take your own along.

Enjoy! It is an experience of a lifetime!

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Unread postPosted: Fri Jun 08, 2007 10:40 am 
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Don't know about Bushmans specific (maybe WTM can help, sure he did it a year or 2 ago) but I did Nyalaland in January and the base camps are supposedly all the same.

We slept in A-frame huts, 2 people per hut. All bedding, towels supplied. (Might not need bedding if it is nice and warm in October) Mosquito nets over the beds.
Running hot water supplied to the showers. Normal flush toilets.
All lighting are provided by lanterns and the fire where you'll spend every night listening to the bush and the trail guides stories.

Take:
Flashlight
Camera/binocs
Lots of drinks, a person gets quite thirsty on the walks.
Amarula (for the sundowners)
Mosquito repellant in summer. If you use something like Bushmans (imported from Australia I think) it can double for ticks and fleas.
Sunscreen
Hat
One warm item of clothing should be enough. In case you're unlucky and it gets bit cold.
Absorbing mind. Listen to everything the guides have to say, they have got loads to share.

Don't take:
Loads of snacks. We did and brought back everything. You end up eating so much you never touch your own snacks.
Bright coloured clothing. (also no whites)
Loud mouth. (Don't know how WTM managed) :lol:
Big 5 expectations.

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 Post subject: Hikes and snake bites
Unread postPosted: Mon Mar 03, 2008 8:19 am 
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Location: Mentally travelling in Kruger
We are doing the Bushman Hike end of March. Does anyone know if the guides and/or base camps are equipped with anti-venom and snake bite kits and do they have training in snake bite treatment? Or is Berg-and-Dal the closest treatment point?


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Unread postPosted: Mon Mar 03, 2008 8:41 am 
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Hi Woodlin,

Yes, they are equipped with a basic snake bite kit and are also trained to give aid. They will also be able to radio in help via a helicopter if the snake bite is bad. No need to worry. :wink:


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Addo Nossob Orpen Satara
Addo Nossob Orpen Satara
Submitted by James of the Jungle at 16:18:42 Submitted by bosboytjie at 16:02:01 Submitted by bosboytjie at 16:05:21 Submitted by stu at 13:56:07