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Info walks taken from camps.

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Morning walks

Unread post by katydownunder » Sat Apr 02, 2005 8:48 pm

I am sure that someone already asked this question before, but I cannot find it. :oops:
We are at Kruger in November :D and for the first time would like to do walks. ( we did not manage to do that the last time we stayed there)
How long do the morning walks take?
It says a few hours, but what does that mean? 2, 3 or 4 hours?
At what time do the mornings walks start and at what time the afternoon walks?
What requirements do they have concerning personal fitness?
And it is dangerous to do the walks?
What kinds of drives do you prefer?
Sunrise(see predators returning from nighthunting ), Sunset (see the animals on the change of day into night) or Night drives (see nocturnal animals)?
We are staying 17 days in 5 different camps and thinking about doing 2 night drives, 2 walks, 2 sunse drives and 1 or 2 sunrise drives.
Do you think that might be a good itinerary?
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Re: Morning walks

Unread post by wildtuinman » Mon Apr 04, 2005 6:57 am

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 which will all be explained to u by your guides who are clued up in protecting their customers and the animals.

Like I have said before on this forum.
No tourist have been killed on such a walk.
There has 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 sunblock and a hat and take your binocs and camera with.
Bright or white colours are not recommended and so is 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 a old man doing a walk with his cane.
But u 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 r 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 u want to attract the attention of the guides.

They normally carry 457/8 Winchesters which are powerful enough to put a charging elephant down in it's 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 favour and their sense of sight is unmatched by us poor mortals.

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 c some of the big stuff as well.

Where will u be walking?

As for the drives:
The night drives seems to have changed to 3 hour long sunset drives as I understand it.
Don't know the reason behind it.
Might be seasonal or permanent.
Nevertheless, it is absolutely worthwhile.
Again don't expect to find the big 5.
Count yourself lucky if you do c them.
Enjoy the nocturnal creatures especially owls and some local nightjars.
Keep that spotlight out of their eyes.

I have not done a sunrise drive purely because I drive then myself with my own car.
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Latest Kruger Park Times Issue

Unread post by craigsa » Wed Jun 29, 2005 8:41 pm

They offer bush walks from Phalaborwa gate, they left early one morning and headed towards Sable dam.
They came across buffalo spoor and decided to track them after a while they saw some vultures in a tree about 800m away, so changed their minds and pursued the vultures.
Changing to be downwind and eventually came across the Sable dam pride which consists of 15 lions eating a buffalo, got charge by the male but stopped in his tracks about 30m from them.
They decided to leave the lions and now look for the buffalo, after walking for a couple of minutes they heard the bellow of a buffalo and looked for it and they came across a youngster all on his lonesome.
It was obviously not afraid of humans at this age and came running up to them and even decided to walk with them in their journey, after a while they could see the youngster was getting tired, so the rangers took turns in carry it on their shoulders.
They contacted the senior ranger and he came with his bakkie, they met up eventually and put the calf on the bakkie, tracked down the herd and then left baby alone to try get it to reunite with the herd, they did not witness this as they left, but he said that it all went quiet after a while, so they gathered the baby met its mother again..
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Unread post by Nico » Sat Jul 16, 2005 11:17 am

I have already done 25 bush walks and I use the colours of nature, green or sand colour.
I never did one from Skukuza but I think walks are everywhere the same, only the environment is different. Listen very sharp what your field guide has to tell and explain and walk always in line.
Take pictures of animals when the field guide approves it.
Can be very important, also enough water with you, don't talk, click your fingers when you like to ask something.....NEVER RUN AWAY when you have a confrontation with an animal.
Enjoy the walk and it will be the best way to experience what KNP nature can offer you. :thumbs_up:
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Re: Advise on Morning Bush walk from Skukuza

Unread post by wildtuinman » Mon Jul 18, 2005 7:08 am

Walking in the bush is like I have described previously an amazing and totally different experience to explore Kruger.

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.

But, there was many big 5 sightings on foot all over the Park in the meanwhile. 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 shake. You also get very close to Rhino due to their poor sight. 15-20m from rhino is not unusual.

I have walked Skukuza only once before. We saw rhino, warthog, zebras, wildebeest etc. Skukuza is good for leopard, if they wants to be seen that is.

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. As Nico said listen to your guides and share in their experience and knowledge. Read some of my previously posted hiking and walking posts if you can. I will be setting up an FAQ for that soon.

Track suit pants aren't favourable as many things get stuck onto it. Grasses, etc.
Trainers are fine. The first hour might be cool but thereafter it heats up so don't get caught with too many warm clothing.
In summer ticks are present a lot more than winter and long trousers are advised. Winter it is better.
I always walk in the winter as summer is too hot and I always wear shorts with hiking boots if I remember them that is.

As Nico said, neutral colours are fine. try to blend in with the bush. White colours are a no-no as animals will see you from miles away coming.

No need to take extra water as the guides have more than enough water in their rucksacks.
You'll have breakfast snacks in the veld too, provided by the guides.

You can take pics any time 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 guides rules and commands.

The Skukuza area is beautiful with several stream crossings depending on where the walk will be conducted.
Black rhino are present in the area.

I will not be giving any further advice as this post is getting to long.
Feel free to ask more questions at a later stage.

Good choice to do the walk.
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Re: Advise on Morning Bush walk from Skukuza

Unread post by bwana » Mon Jul 18, 2005 6:57 pm

arks wrote:
wildtuinman wrote:You can take pics anytime and the guides will confirm that. Jut make sure that the shutter noise is off as some animals react to it.

A bit off topic, but I'm curious about how you can "turn off" the noise of the camera's shutter?
Is this a feature of DSLRs? I'm not aware that it can be done with a conventional SLR ... would have been very useful when I was doing theatre photography, as I always felt that my Canon was well named :)

I can do this with my camera phone! :lol:
Seriously the 300D also has a harsh clunk- annoying when you need to be quiet.

A thing to remember is also that certain fabrics (nylon for eg) emit a very foreign sound when scraped against bushes.
Try and steer clear of them.
Also watch where you put your foot down, not only for snakes but also small holes (twisted ankle) and remember dry branches and leaves make a noise when tramped on-easily scaring skittish animals away. When walking through a bush or past a branch be kind to the person behind you and hold the branch so it doesn't whack them in the face when you walk through it.
Also picking up dung from herbivores is ok, but not from carnivores.
We had a guy do this (lion dung) on our bushwalk in Biyamiti and the guide politely explained that all manner of diseases could be present - anthrax etc.
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Unread post by Wild@Heart » Tue Jul 19, 2005 7:15 am

Just a point to note ... Elephants and Rhino's don't enjoy the noise of Camera's ... Like Wtm said ... they will move, and if it's in your direction .. well, kindly follow the guides requests.

Also to add ... I you are able to get into close range of an animal without being noticed, then please be considerate as too NOT take photo's then ... unless your camera has a silent mode ...

The autozoom can be heard over distances by animals. You won't experience anything better then to observe animals in their natural surroundings do the natural things you won't get too see when they have to constantly focus on where you are.

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Unread post by gwendolen » Fri Mar 10, 2006 9:07 pm

squirrel wrote:Is a night drive advisable, concerning the mosquitoes? Or should I opt for the morning drive or the walk. Since it seems to be very hot in April is the walk maybe too strenuous (I am fit though)?
What about the braai (spelled right?), I'm vegetarian, is there only meat grilled or will there be something "non-meat".

The walks are very relaxed.
Anyone can do them.
Most walks are about 3 km and the terrain is not extremely rough.
You don't need high walking boots to do them.
It's a great feeling to be out here and walk around.
You get to see lots of tracks and spoor and the rangers have the most interesting things to tell. Do a drive and a walk if you can, squirrel.
About the braai, do you mean a bush braai?
Most of it will be meat, but we also had a vegetable potjiekos dish and pap with salsa.
Perhaps it is a good idea to tell reception or the chef at the restaurant that you are a vegetarian and they might be able to do a special dish.
The bush braai's are very special and include a sunset drive.
I would do it if they only served wine and bread. :lol:

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Re: Early Morning Walk start time

Unread post by Nico » Fri Mar 24, 2006 1:40 pm

birdsnest4 wrote:What time does the early morning walk start and end?
That depends, in winter they start about 5 till 9 o, clock and in summer time from 4 till 8 o, clock. A bushwalk gives you the best nature experience.It is nearly a must. :wink:

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Walks and Trail Stories

Unread post by Mars » Fri May 26, 2006 10:53 am

I was on a morning walk last year October.
Early morning we meet at Skukuza reception, we meet our two game rangers who asks us a few questions then we were off driving, while all the other people in the park sleep, and the sun barely visible.

On our way, we caught the early morning bush smell.
We stopped at a few giraffe's, a few elephants, and a few nyala's.
When we reached our destination, the ranger tells us what we must and must not do.
He tells us that we must walk in a straight line behind each other.

We then walk off in the bushes, as we come across different things he teach us things we never knew.
We saw some giraffe's on foot, and he tells us that the giraffe's will warn the other animals of us.
We then saw some Nyala's and Kudu and they all ran off as they see us.
Then the fun part

We came across a few rhino with smaller babies, they all ran as they saw us.
We then saw a Big Rhino Bull all by himself, he charged at us full force.
The rangers quickly got us behind a tree, where he stopped, he then charged 2 or three more times and then left, we drove off safely to skukuza.

Can you perhaps tell me what you have experienced on those walks, maybe encounters with elephants etc ?

Lets hear the stories

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Unread post by webb » Fri May 26, 2006 2:42 pm

I have been on three walks in the park, all of them early morning walks, and all of them for some reason from Satara.

The first one was definitely the most memorable one.
It was early December 2002 i think, and we hadn't seen much on our drives.
So we decided to try out a bush walk which was at that stage still quiet a new concept at the park.

So we woke up at the crack of dawn, had the usual safety speech and headed off in the game vehicle to the designated spot where we were to do our walk.

The first hour yielded a bit of game; baboons, impalas, zebra and wildebeest not to mention all the smaller things including plenty of spiders.

Whilst the rangers were sharing their knowledge of one of the spiders it became clear that 2 people on the walk, who I thought were acting a bit strange, had some sort of serious eyesight problem.
They both pulled out pocket sized telescopes to view the spider which was right in front of us.
This had everyone on the walk a little alarmed but nothing was said you could just sense it!
Anyway we continued the walk and headed towards a small koppie.
I was at the front of the walk at that stage and the rangers both asked me if I wouldn't mind taking the lead up to the top of the koppie where we would be stopping for breakfast.
They were concerned that the two people with the eyesight problem might slip and fall and were therefore going to guide them up the hill.

I reached the top without any hassles and walked to the opposite side of the koppie to see if i could see any animals on the plains down below.
At this point I heard a GROWL but like nothing i had ever heard in my life.
Everything in my mind went into slow motion as I looked in the direction of where the noise had come from.

One thing I knew for sure is it was very cross and very close by.
The next thing I had my eyes fixed on a female lion snarling and growling.
She couldn't have been more than 10m from me, on a ledge just below me.
Then i took a second look, it couldn't be, 2 cubs at her side too.
Remembering what the rangers had said if we came across lion I stood my ground. (Don’t ask me how)
The two cubs then turned and ran down the hill and she decided to follow them.
Thank the lord cause he must have been looking out for me.

I then called the others, who had been instructed by the rangers to keep still, that it was safe and they all got a glimpse of them running off into the distance.

Now a little shaken up but also feeling so privileged to have been able to have had such a close experience with a wild lion I sat down to a sugar based breakfast.
Just then a huge male lion walked out from below the koppie glaring at all of us as he slowly moved away. And as if that was not enough we then heard a fight break out in the bushes below and another set of lions started roaring on the opposite side of the koppie.
At which point the ranger said well as you can tell we seem to be surrounded by lions this morning. (Really!!)

After breakfast we continued our walk and came across the fresh spoor of the lions I had run into on the koppie but never caught up to them.
The rest of the walk was filled with adrenalin as we all expected to be pounced on at any given time.
Just before the end of the walk we came across another two male lions and a female, however they were about 200m off and fled as soon as they saw us.

It was both a truly remarkable walk and experience.

The other two walks we came across general game, no big cats which was just fine with me.
Its just nice to be able to walk in a place like Kruger and smell those wonderful bush smells and see how differently the animals react to you.

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Unread post by wildtuinman » Sat May 27, 2006 9:12 pm

Funny that the previous story reminds me so much of a Satara morning walk I did once.
If I remember correctly, it was my first ever walk in Kruger.
And ever since I was hooked…

A brisk winter morning… our two guides, sorry I cannot remember their names, on that stage complimented each other very very well.
The guy, bold and adventurous, and his female companion, the cautious and by the rulebook type.

As we headed off into pristine Kruger bush we got a nice adrenaline rush as we encountered a fresh mount of elephant dung.
Not 30mins old… we did not see the silent giant then but later on we had a very interesting encounter with the majestic grey ghost.

After some 30mins of interesting lectures about the finer detail Kruger provides we came across a dry stream, which we had to cross.
The male guide explained to us how he and a lioness with small cubs stood looking each other face to face at this exact spot just the previous week.
The lioness had charged him 3 times, getting so close that the pebbles and dust as she slammed on the brakes hit him from the waist down as he looked at her over the sights of his .458 magnum.

He also explained to us how he learnt that day how powerful the Afrikaans language really is.
After the third charge the lioness gave him, he let out with the meanest voice he could manage ‘f-of leeu’ and true as bob he said the lioness turned and ran off towards where her cubs disappeared a minute ago. Non of us believed him then, but we soon ate our words afterwards…

As we passed through the dry stream, we could not believe our eyes as about 30meters away laid and played 11 small lion cubs.
We watched them for something like 15mins before a we spotted a lioness darting across an opening and as one man all the cubs stopped their playful behaviour, looked straight at us and followed their nursery garden teacher like a downstream sewerage pipe… to be continiued…
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Re: Guided Walks

Unread post by gwendolen » Fri Jul 28, 2006 12:59 pm

Suzz wrote:Isn't it better to rather don't do guided walks in the parks and just stick to game drives?

Hi Suzz,

I have only done one guided walk in KNP, so my experience is a bit limited. :D

I think the guided walks are a wonderful way to get closer to nature and to learn about wildlife. The walks are mostly about the little things in KNP. Spoor of animals, animal droppings, the trees and shrubs in the area. The guides have so many interesting things to tell and have great stories to share. It was definitely a highlight during my last trip. I have booked two walks for my next trip.

I don't think the walks are intrusive for animals. All the animals we spotted (impala, baboons, a steenbok, a warthog, a young elephant, a herd of kudu, wildebeest and a group of banded mongoose) were seen from a respectful distance and we observed them very quietly.

I don't how many walks are done on a yearly basis in KNP, but I think the amount of incidences is very, very low.

You really should join your husband, it's such a wonderful experience.

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