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The Trail Rangers/A Tribute to the Kruger Guides.

Discuss activities available in the Kruger National Park, and follow all the sighting reports.
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The Trail Rangers/A Tribute to the Kruger Guides.

Unread postby lecter » Tue Jun 15, 2010 3:31 pm

Anyone else had a blast in the bush with a Kruger Guide?
Here's one of ours.
Post yours.
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Re: A Tribute to the Kruger Guides.

Unread postby normana53 » Tue Jun 15, 2010 4:22 pm

Our two Guides from Satara were great.
These pictures were taken shortly after we encountered two young male Lion who had been sleeping under some large bushes.
As soon as they saw us, they became ghosts and disappeared.
The guides were both much more alert for the next fifteen or twenty minutes.



I didn't get any pictures, as our on-foot sighting of Lion was very brief and I was so intent on watching them, I forgot to raise my camera to take a photo as did SO with the digital Video camera :huh:
Last edited by normana53 on Thu Jun 17, 2010 12:41 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: A Tribute to the Kruger Guides.

Unread postby terryc » Tue Jun 15, 2010 4:26 pm

I have always found the guides to be well informed, good communicators, patient and passionate, especially on the wilderness trails. keep it up. :thumbs_up:
26 June to 29 June - Berg N Dal
30 June to 1 July - P'kop
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Re: A Tribute to the Kruger Guides.

Unread postby RIAAN H » Wed Jun 16, 2010 11:03 pm

Those two Satara guides pictured are from top : Maxwell and Eliab{ formerly from lower Sabie} at the bottom.
both are excellent guides and very friendly.

I have been very fortunate to go on many drives with them, the most recent being last week.
The guides at Lower Sabie are also great. { MJ and irving.}

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Re: A Tribute to the Kruger Guides.

Unread postby Nkulu » Thu Jun 17, 2010 6:59 am

We had a bushbraai / sunset / night drive with Patrick from Lower Sabie and were really impressed by his knowledge and his determination to let us enjoy the experience.

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Re: A Tribute to the Kruger Guides.

Unread postby Bluey » Thu Jun 17, 2010 2:33 pm

I went on a sunset drive 6th May and sunrise drive 7th May with Patrick at Lower Sabe and was extremely impressed with his knowledge, helpfulness, jokingly friendly nature and personality. A lovely man. Hope he still has the key ring.

If I was ever to move from Australia it would be to South Africa preferably to the Kruger, WHAT A PLACE

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Re: A Tribute to the Kruger Guides.

Unread postby ndloti » Thu Jun 17, 2010 3:28 pm

I must add the names of some of the trails ranger legends from whom I had the priviledge of learning to fully understand the wilderness ethos .
I have forgotten some names over the last 25 years , there are surely more personalities that I never walked with whom I am sure were just as good at instilling this ethos that I have would like to have mentioned .

Dave Chapman
Craig Beaton
Cleve Cheney
Wayne Lotter
Adriaan Louw
Wouter Jordaan
Scott Ronaldson
Kallie Ubisi
Martin Engelbrecht
Jaco Badenhorst
Cobus Wentzel
Leon Serfontein
Daniel Makuleke
Albino Ringane

Not to mention more of the back up rangers and trackers with whom I could not converse easily due to a language barrier .
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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Re: A Tribute to the Kruger Guides.

Unread postby annie R » Fri Jun 18, 2010 12:38 pm

We did the Olifants Wilderness trail with Aaron Mkansi and tracker Sjambok Dzambukeri and they were fabulous.
Aaron was a mine of interesting information and insights, while Sjambok was a quiet and alert presence whose fine senses and brilliant tracking gave us wonderful - and safe - experiences with spotted hyena, lions on a kudu kill, a leopard on an impala kill, elephants and even a Pel's fishing owl.
If we ever do another wilderness trail I hope to be lucky enough to get this dynamic duo again. Ayoba!

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Re: A Tribute to the Kruger Guides.

Unread postby superstess » Sat Jun 26, 2010 10:17 am

For me Irving Knight from Lower Sabie deserves mentioning here.
He always goes ot of his way to make sure his guests enjoy their time in Lower Sabie.
Lower Sabie September 30 - October 12!!!!

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Re: A Tribute to the Kruger Guides.

Unread postby Mauxie » Sun Jun 27, 2010 4:42 pm

I've done two walks, from Satara, with Metwell.
He is an amazing guide.
Also came across 3 lion and then a leopard kill on one of those walks with him.
He was totally in control and confident.

Then there is Martie and Irving from Lower Sabie.
I thoroughly enjoyed the walk I did with them, in July last year.
I also did a sunset drive with Martie.
She is so entertaining and knowledgeable and I would love to do another one with her.


Finally, I have done 2 sunset drives, with Elliott, from Biyamiti.
He is also an amazing, friendly guide and went out of his way to find something for us.
We saw the big 5 with him on one drive.

Please remember to tip these dedicated people if you feel they have done their best for you.
They don't expect it but I'm sure they do appreciate it.
KRUGER, my happy place!
SKUKUZA 3rd & 4th
SATARA 6th , 7th & 8th
LOWER SABIE 9th , 10th & 11th

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The Trails Rangers.

Unread postby gmlsmit » Mon Aug 02, 2010 11:22 am

I am starting this topic for members who have interesting articles or interactions with current and previous Trail Rangers.

All forumites are invited and very welcome to post their experiences in this thread - maybe you will light the fire that will one day culminate in some new traillists also enjoying the purpling embers of the little camp fire while listening to the sounds of the AFRICAN dark, or experience the adrenaline rush of suddenly coming across a pride of Lions or some Buffalo or Elephants.

Who knows.
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Re: The Trails Rangers.

Unread postby gmlsmit » Mon Aug 02, 2010 11:23 am

Kally Ubisi Part 1.

Kally Ubisi was our Trails Ranger on the Napi Wilderness Trail.

He was born at Bushbuckridge where he grew up and attended the Lilliydale School where he matriculated.

The young Kally always enjoyed Nature, he was at his happiest while out in the veld, seeing the green decorated with the colorful flowers and seeing and listening to the birds of the Lowveld.

After completing his schooling he found a job at a garage in Bushbuckridge where he was employed in the workshops.

One day a man arrived at the workshops to have some punctures repaired. They started chatting and the customer told Kally that he worked for UNICEF and asked Kally whether he would like to work for UNICEF, after an interview Kally resigned from the garage and started at UNICEF where he was involved in the repatriation of Mozambican refugees.

Kally always yearned to work in the KRUGER NATIONAL PARK, the same place where his father had been employed as a driver. His love for the PARK started while still a youngster, his father when at home always told how wonderful it was working with the people and in nature – many stories about happenings in the PARK just stoke the fire. They eagerly listened when their father told about Lion kills and Elephants having their regular bath and . . . . .

After about two years at UNICEF, Kally decided to find a job in the KRUGER PARK, any work just as long as it was in the wonderful place his father, who was a driver in the Roads Department, had told him about.

He got a job as a temporary assistant in the SKUKUZA shop, he was very proud to be dressed in khaki and wearing the green epaulettes displaying the golden KUDU head and the motto “CUSTOS NATURAE”.

After a short period Kally got a permanent appointment as a Shop Assistant. He was happy but his heart was in the bush with all the plants and animals.

During early 1994, the Shop Manager called him in and told him about a job in the Conservation Services Department and asked whether he was still interested, Kally replied in the affirmative and was told to later that day come and fetch a letter of recommendation for the job at the Conservation Services Department, he was interviewed and told that eighty of the very many applicants would go through a screening process; he was satisfied as now at least he had a foot in the door.

A few days later he was informed that he was one of the selected eighty; he was told to pack his belongings and also to make sure that he had a pair of tackies and some PT shorts and a few T shirts and to report at the Conservation Services Offices early the following morning.

The next morning he found a really weird looking bunch at the Conservation Services Offices, here a man told them to get onto the waiting trucks as they were on their way to Stolznek

Here at Stolznek they were billeted in tents and told to get dressed into their PT clothing and to report at an indicated spot. Here they did PT and ran many many kilometers.

Rangers Flip Nel, Johan van Graan, Ben Pretorius, Kobus Kruger, Jack Greeff and Brian Harris did the initial training.

Kally mentioned that he still has the greatest respect for the late Ben Pretorius, he and his wife Quarta were a wonderful couple.

Sweat flowed and they grew fitter while others just chucked in the towel. Soon the number of prospective Game Guards started reducing rapidly – possibly in sync with their weight loss. Excess body weight was soon turned into lean tight muscle. Kally mentions that he now realized what the SADF military word “VASBYT” meant.

Doing push-ups and jack-knives and crawling and buddy-buddy carrying in between running, soon became part of their daily routine, doing lectures in the bush was a welcome respite, Kally realized that they were all watched with eagle eyes.

Soon the eighty was reduced to fifty and then they were told that a final twenty four would eventually do the last part of the course.

He realized what the reason for this one month of tough physical training was, the life of a Game Guard could sometimes be very tough and softies would not be able to fulfill their allocated duties.

Kally was determined to be one of the final twenty four, he started enjoying the course. He and another trainee were competing to be the top students – both eventually together with twenty two others were loaded and transported to the Rangers course at the Shishangane picket east of Vlakteplaas, he was very proud to be mentioned as one of the top five students.

Here at Shishangane, Jack Greeff headed the training, at the end of the course a further nine students were informed that they did not make the grade and were transported back to SKUKUZA.

Mid 1995, Kally and fourteen others were posted to their pickets – they were now newly qualified Game Guards and were fully kitted out each also with a 7.62 R1 rifle and live ammunition.

They were distributed to Mahlangeni, Nwanetsi, Punda Maria, Stolznek and Kingfisherspruit all poaching hotspots.

Kallie was posted at Kingfisherspruit, arriving here the District Ranger – Errol Pieterse told them not to offload their belongings as the were going to the Kampiaan picket at Dingala where they would be involved in anti-poaching, as the people from Welverdiend were involved in shooting and snaring the animals and they were to stop these activities.

Arriving at Kampiaan they offloaded and were immediately told to do night watch, Kally and two other new Game Guards set out under command of Corporal Paul Ndlovu in the full moon . . . ., they were fortunate to be successful on their very first stake out. He now had his first taste of being a Game Ranger – the job he always wanted.
I participate because I care - CUSTOS NATURAE
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No to Legalized Rhino and Lion trade.
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What a wonderful privilege.

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Re: The Trails Rangers.

Unread postby gmlsmit » Mon Aug 02, 2010 1:09 pm

Kally Ubisi Part 2.

Kally spent the period 1994 to 1997 at Kingfisherspruit. He was then transferred to Malelane where he started doing Wilderness Trails – the Bushman’s and the Wolhuter, with Jan Erasmus and Frans du Toit and Piet Scott they swapped around and he really enjoyed this life. Kally was here until 2003 when he was transferred to the Sweni Wilderness Trail.

While at Sweni he together with thirteen other Rangers were employed by “The Wilderness Company” a Private Company owned by Jaco Badenhorst, Jan Erasmus, Nick Squires, Barry Hopgood and Gideon Serfontein – all ex National Parks Board Rangers, who hired out field staff to SANPARKS as required. Here they gained valuable experience of the different areas and different jobs; they met many different people and improved their people’s skills.

It was great doing the Wolhuter, Bushman, Olifants, Sweni, Metsi-Metsi, Napi and Nyalaland Wilderness Trails but soon he realized that doing this he would never be able to make a Trail his own.

Fortunately it was decided in 2007, that the staffing of the Wilderness Trails should be done by SANPARKS personnel, outsourcing was not such a great idea as originally anticipated; they were again back in SANPARKS employ.

Kally was posted to the Napi Wilderness Trail; here it is closer to where his wife and two children; the twelve year old daughter Cathleen Rivonia doing grade six and his six year old son Kaylin Reeve now in grade one, live at his home at Bushbuck Ridge, Lilliydale. His parents also still live at Lilliydale.

He loves the area of the Napi, with its topography and its animals and its plants. Kally’s special interest is Botany; many of his friends call him the Flower Fundi, unfortunately few people on the Trails are really interested in flowers but when he finds some, he is very eager to share his love for the white and blue and yellow and red and pink and orange jewels, decorating the Lowveld bush, with all its insects and other interesting creepy crawlies.

Kally mentioned that approximately 80% of the plants in the KRUGER PARK still do not have common names, like Lions eyes or Cat eyes or whatever.

Kally did part time education at the Pretoria Technikon during the period 2000 to 2002.

The Area Ranger at SKUKUZA discussed with the KRUGER Management the possibility of the courses being presented at SKUKUZA, it was agreed that it would be more practical, the Technikon agreed and At Botha the HOD or a lecturer came to SKUKUZA where he lectured them for a day and a half and allocated the assignments, it was then six weeks of hard graft before the next visit, where they did exams and were evaluated.

While studying they visited many different Institutions, during the first year they attended the Potchefstroom University for CHE where they studied Soil Science and Geology, during the second year they went to the St. Lucia area where they studied Mongoose and Beach Insects to broaden their knowledge.

Kally says he still has twenty five years which he intends spending very productively in the KRUGER NATIONAL PARK. His dream for himself is to one day become an Area Ranger where he can teach and train others about the bush, maybe one day there could be a school where special education could be given to people from the towns and rural areas.

He says that for every child educated into loving nature affects at least three others when they return home to their parents.

Kally says that the My Acre of Africa seems to be reasonably successful in doing the education of the children, who normally come in for a day.

Other children come in and stay at SKUKUZA from the School Journey Services where the Socio Ecology Services make the arrangements and do the education, the children go on drives where they learn and enjoy.

On my question about what more can be done to make Black People more nature conservation minded, he replied that they seek to be made part of it, as for many years there were two groups: the Nature Conservators – and the people; who did not feel part of it.

The People must be taught and educated about what is so special about nature, it will take many years but eventually most will be converted, unfortunately there still are many in the Villages that are not interested in Nature, and to them it means nothing, whether they will ever be converted, he does not know.

Unfortunately many people in the rural areas still have the impression that the KRUGER NATIONAL PARK is only for the rich; education is what is required to change their thinking.

It was indeed enriching to spend three days with this remarkable man who has a passion, just as much or maybe even more than we.

My wish to Kally is that his dreams come true; his surname “UBISI” is shared with many of the Field Rangers and Game Guards of yesteryear, no wonder he loves the place – it must be in the genes.

Should you ever have the privilege of meeting Kally Ubisi, stop and have a chat, or should you really feel the need to have a bush experience, make a reservation for the Napi Wilderness Trail and also spend three days with a man who really cares.


Kally Ubisi on the right.
I participate because I care - CUSTOS NATURAE
No to Hotels in and commercialization of our National Parks.
No to Legalized Rhino and Lion trade.
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What a wonderful privilege.

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Re: The Trails Rangers.

Unread postby gmlsmit » Mon Aug 02, 2010 1:14 pm

Saul Hlatswayo.

Saul Hlatswayo is one of the Trail Rangers we met on the Napi.

Saul was born in Bushbuckridge where he grew up. He always had a passion for nature.

He started working in Pretoriuskop in 1993 as a general worker.

One day Kobus Kruger the local Ranger came to him and asked whether he would be interested in joining the Conservation Services staff as a Field Ranger. Of course he was interested.

Very soon Saul found himself at Stolznek for training it was tough and he passed the selection, and reported at Shishangane in September 1994 for further training.

Saul mentioned that he has greatest respect for Kobus Kruger, who he knew as an absolutely fearless man, he would accompany him anywhere. He recalls while doing shooting training with a .375 or a .458 rifle, Kobus would set up the metal target resembling a charging predator and then at the range of twenty five meters go and stand next to it and then instruct his pupil to shoot – fast and straight, you had to; otherwise there was big trouble .

After passing the course he spent six and a half years as a Field Ranger at Pretoriuskop, mostly with Kobus Kruger.

He then applied for the position as Trails Ranger at Napi; he was fortunate enough to get it and has enjoyed every minute here.

Saul was very involved in anti poaching duties. Poachers would come and do their evil thing.

Poachers were mostly armed with AK 47 automatic rifles.

He once caught two Rhino poachers armed with AK 47’s.

Once while he and Sergeant Ghona and Corporal Intheleni and Aaron Nkuna while sleeping in their camping site, heard shooting in the bush they got up and searched and found three poachers in the bush with a spot light.

The four assembled and sat and made a plan, they checked their rifles and went for the poachers who had shot five Impala and one Duiker.

One of the poachers went for the Rangers and Saul wanted to shoot him, the Sergeant said “no we will just catch him”. Saul wanted to take his own decision and shoot as the poacher was dangerous, as Saul squeezed the trigger the poacher turned and the R1 bullet just missed him, and they ran off in the dark of night.

The Rangers decided to set an ambush as they expected the poachers to return to fetch their harvest. Just after sunrise one of the poachers appeared and he was caught, he was taken to the SAP where he soon mentioned the names of his compatriots, they were charged for poaching, being in illegal possession of a firearm in the Park and also for entering the Park without the required authority to do so, the three spent some time in the Government hotel.

Saul mentioned that Rhino poaching is currently on the increase and is of great concern in the southern and central areas of KRUGER; anti poaching operations in the mentioned areas has been improved, especially with the assistance of all the newly appointed Field Rangers, maybe when the SADF is deployed in the Park would also be of great assistance.

Saul says that they love their jobs – protecting the animals and all the life in the Park.

Saul says that he spent much time with Kobus Kruger and Ben Pretorius at Pretoriuskop. Saul said that he was very sad to hear that Ben Pretorius had passed away only eleven months after leaving the Park – maybe his heart was broken.

Saul started at the Napi with Trevor Langeveld, the two walked many kilometers, he was also very sad when Trevor had to leave during Operation Prevail . . .

Saul is married, his family live at Nkuhlu – Bushbuckridge. He has three daughters their names being Lovement and Valentine at schools and Glad the little baby aged two years and ten months. Judging by their names Saul is a romantic chap.

Saul mentioned that he and Kalliy had been good friends since their young days and still hope to spend many enjoyable years together as CONSERVATORS of NATURE here in the place he truly loves.

It was good speaking to this dedicated man who also has a passion for the Great Mother and all Her Children.

Should you ever have the privilege of meeting this man, spend some time with him – you well leave feeling that you have learnt a lot.


Saul second from the left.
Last edited by gmlsmit on Mon Aug 02, 2010 2:00 pm, edited 2 times in total.
I participate because I care - CUSTOS NATURAE
No to Hotels in and commercialization of our National Parks.
No to Legalized Rhino and Lion trade.
Done 151 visits to National Parks.
What a wonderful privilege.

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Re: The Trails Rangers.

Unread postby PetraJ » Mon Aug 02, 2010 1:42 pm

Thank you so much for telling us their stories. I would really love to meet them someday. :thumbs_up:

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