Mphongolo Back Pack Trail

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Brenden
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Re: Mphongolo Back Pack Trail

Unread post by Brenden »

ndloti wrote:Brenden . are you referring to a scarcity of "genuine / purist " wilderness trailists who understand the concept of wilderness , or trailists in general ?


Trailists in general.
"Keep the Wind in your face, the Sun on your back and the Wilderness deep in your heart".
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Brenden
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Re: Mphongolo Back Pack Trail

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The silence of a warm winter’s morning moved us deeper. Floating in a lake of Mopane the leafy mosaic of green, yellow and orange imitate reflecting sparkles as an ancient Elephant path steers us forward like a soft breeze in a sail. Fine flakes of dried mud swivel from the brush as I cause a disturbance in passing. Beads of moisture on my skin intercept and rehydrate it once more. We have traded wet earth, pachyderm and I. None the less we remain but visitors, strangers in our old home.

Diary extract from the trail 29 May to 01 June.
Last edited by Brenden on Tue Jun 04, 2013 8:52 am, edited 1 time in total.
"Keep the Wind in your face, the Sun on your back and the Wilderness deep in your heart".
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Brenden
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Re: Mphongolo Back Pack Trail

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Vibrant birdsong midst the wooded plane, church bells engaging the pilgrims. Tree colonnades hold green ceilings tall, flank Elephant path and isle. The sun’s energy through the branched windows flow to illuminate the basilica’s dome. Civilisations curse, immense inner burden, we have found a moment of peace. Blue eyed pigeons feed on yellow jackal fruit, may this Wilderness never decease.

Diary extract from the trail 29 May to 01 June.
Last edited by Brenden on Tue Jun 04, 2013 8:56 am, edited 1 time in total.
"Keep the Wind in your face, the Sun on your back and the Wilderness deep in your heart".
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Brenden
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Re: Mphongolo Back Pack Trail

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29 May 2013: Day 1

We followed a well used game trail from the middle firebreak access road down to the Phugwane River.
It was only a stones throw away from Maribyeyobasa - 'white stones' in Tsonga referring to the resistant quarts hills of the area.
Tracks of Elephant, Buffalo and Hyena litter the path as we move closer to the river's edge.
We were greeted by a mass of water, I have never seen anything like it on the Phugwane before.
The floods have scattered deep, dark pools along the meandering river and Hippo track have become a common pattern in the sand.

Not too far ahead on the southern bank a lone Buffalo bull seeks out green grass under shrubs and small trees.
The wind was in our favour and we unloaded the backpacks to observe him for a few minutes.
We managed to stay unnoticed for about 5 minutes before the wind changed direction and the black mass thundered off into the wide open spaces away from the river.

Before long we reached a sharp bend in the river, on the opposite grassy bank we could see Waterbuck and Impala peacefully going about their business.
We skipped across a small watershed to the Sheshanyana spruit, a beautifully harsh stretch lay ahead as we roved through open sodic sites with intermittent pans.
A branch snapped close by, but we could not find a visual of the culprit.
The vegetation was rather dense and the sun not ideally situated.
We could now see the grey giant moving parrallel to us, but conditions were not in our favour and it was soon time to move on. Further along, Dwarf mongoose scattered as we selected a resting point under a large Nyala Tree.
It was time to drop the packs and rehydrate.

Before long we had reached the Sheshanyana confluence with the Phugwane and it was time to consider settling down for the night.
As we moved around the bend two young elephants continued their playful scuffle.
They moved away with time as we started pitching our perfectly located camp.
Another perfect Kruger night with the stars filling the moonless sky in all their glory.
We heard Hyena and Lion in the distance during that night, but managed to secure good rest for the adventure that lay ahead.

30 May 2013: Second Night

The night was still and cool.
Bright stars once again provided an extraordinary atmosphere as our little fire flickers on.
We will be staying here at Zari for two nights.
Fireside stories had already tapered into silence and we were just about ready for bed.

We had just zipped up as the distant crackling began.
It grew ever louder as the grunts and sound of breaking branches floated toward camp.
It was a big herd and they were most definitely heading this way.
The noise deafening, the experience intense as this large herd of Buffalo decided to come have a drink in the pool next to our camp.
Thunderous grunts and heavy clicks of hooves on rocks echoed into our camp as we lay silently in our insignificant little tents. What an experience, what a rush!
"Keep the Wind in your face, the Sun on your back and the Wilderness deep in your heart".
mandym
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Re: Mphongolo Back Pack Trail

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I have just spent a lovely hour reading all the wonderful trail reports in this thread. Thank you to you all.

So it is looking like my next trip to Kruger is going to be in November when the Mphongolo will still be running and I would so love to do this trail.

In March I was lucky enough to do the Lonely Bull Trail which was such an incredible experience. The participants turned out to be 5 friends from Jo’burg, all guys aged between 28 and 32, Mark, the lead guide, Stanley the ranger and little old me. When I arrived at the departure point and found out that it was 5 strapping young men and myself I wondered if perhaps I should start looking in the mirror and realise that I am not as young as I think I am! But, as it turned out, I was more than capable and I need not have had my moment of self-doubt. What an amazing four days that was!

Judging by the posts (and the fact that I thought noone was going to book the Lonely Bull in March) it does seem that I will be very lucky to find 3 other people to do the Mphongolo trail with me in November ........but you get nowhere without asking. So, if any of you have a backpacking trail on your things-to-do-list, allow me to twist your arm and tell you that it will be an experience to treasure or, if any of you trailists are intending to do another one please let me know what dates you are thinking of.

I haven't booked my flights yet (coming from Barcelona) but, at the moment, it looks like I may be in Kruger to do the trail on 9th, 13th, 16th or 20th November.
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Brenden
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Re: Mphongolo Back Pack Trail

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The Mphongolo Backpack Trail departure point has officially been moved back to Shingwedzi Rest Camp as from 7 July 2013.
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A Free Living Guide
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Re: Mphongolo Back Pack Trail

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We did an Mphongolo trail in Feburary, first trail of the 2015 season…

It was HOT! Like seriously, unbelievably hot!
But a lovely trail none the less.
Bush was think, had some rain just before we arrived so all the pans had water in them, beautiful to see.

Followed some big drag marks for what felt like a very very long way, was probably over 1.5km.
They led us to a large hyena den where we bumped into about big 9 hyenas, and I'm sure there must have been cubs stashed away some where close by in a termiterium, but we didn't see them.

When we finally found what had caused the drag marks it turned out to be half a baby buffalo. A hyena must have found it out in the bush and carried it and dragged it for a very very long way back to the den for all to share! Amazing strength and determination these misunderstood animals have.
They are so good at what they do! :D

Also bumped into a 3,5m black mamba :D
Nice trail.

I'll be back up in the north for two back to back trails at the end of the month.
Looking forward to them…

HB.
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Re: Mphongolo Back Pack Trail

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Brenden wrote:But where have all the trailists gone, are they now perhaps singing a silicon song?


Breden, we are still here and I have booked the Mphongolo Backpacktrail for the third time! It is just too addictive! Going 22 - 25 July this year, so first time in winter!

Few questions:
1. I noticed it being very dry; do you think there will be still surface water aroun?d (by estimate, you know the area quite well)
2. How cold does it normally get during July on the Mphongolo trail at night my estimate is 0-5 degrees, it this correct?
3. Are all the area's accessible to walk? (have done Phona Hill area, Zare Windmill and Boomplaas/Phungwane river area. The latter I found extremely beautiful!

We are a big group (8 persons) and I have managed to get a lot of 'bakpack virgins' with, and we all can't wait! Extremely excited :D

Any nice stories of recent trails? Especially curious to stories about the sounds at night etc...
Walking is the best way to explore Kruger: 2x Olifants Backpack Trail (2009, 2016), 3x Mphongolo Backpack Trail (2011, 2013, 2015), 1x Mathikithi Wilderness Trail (2022).
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A Free Living Guide
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Re: Mphongolo Back Pack Trail

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Ive just come off back to back Mphongolo trails.
We had some interesting experiences :D

Two of my guests got engaged in the middle of the dry Phugwane river bed one evening at sunset, what a beautiful place to pop the question… :k

One night while sitting around a small campfire we had an Elle bull in mhust walk past our tents in the darkness.
We couldn't see him, but the breez was right and we could smell him.
He drank for a long time in the river bed close to our camp and we listened to his breathing and the gallons of water pouring out of his trunk and down his throat... He was that close.
We watched him in the moonlight as he walked up the dry riverbed past our camp.
A massive animal moving slowly and deliberately in the moonlight.
He disappeared slowly into the darkness, as quietly as he had arrived…

Wilderness is such a special place, and it is such a privilege to be in it!

HB.
Walk quietly, but carry a big stick...
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Re: Mphongolo Back Pack Trail

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Have done the Mphongolo trail for the third time this year July, and it was simply amazing! I've never had that much elephant on foot! We had encounters with up to 3 heards a day, been held up by three young bulls and intimidated by a bull in must! Nevetheless we had awesome sightings, running giraffe's, a huge herd of buffalo, zebra, kudu, too much to mention! Expereinced awe-inspiring sounds at night, including a herd of elephants moving through the branches 50m away. Hyena's, lion's, pearl spotted and scops owl all formed an chaotic choir in the African night! I long for a repeat already!

There is nothing more beautiful than such a trail :D Will soon post some pics if I have time.
Walking is the best way to explore Kruger: 2x Olifants Backpack Trail (2009, 2016), 3x Mphongolo Backpack Trail (2011, 2013, 2015), 1x Mathikithi Wilderness Trail (2022).
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Re: Mphongolo Back Pack Trail

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Pictures of our last Mphongolo backpack trail (2015). We had at least 3 elephant sightings each day with numerous other general game sightings, probably the second best trail I had!

Enjoy the pictures, they speak for themselves.

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Last edited by G@mespotter on Tue May 10, 2016 6:46 pm, edited 5 times in total.
Walking is the best way to explore Kruger: 2x Olifants Backpack Trail (2009, 2016), 3x Mphongolo Backpack Trail (2011, 2013, 2015), 1x Mathikithi Wilderness Trail (2022).
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Re: Mphongolo Back Pack Trail

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Here first the video of our 'scary elephant experience'. There was a short article in the Africa Geographic

Africa Geographic

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Last edited by G@mespotter on Tue May 10, 2016 6:46 pm, edited 3 times in total.
Walking is the best way to explore Kruger: 2x Olifants Backpack Trail (2009, 2016), 3x Mphongolo Backpack Trail (2011, 2013, 2015), 1x Mathikithi Wilderness Trail (2022).
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Re: Mphongolo Back Pack Trail

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8)
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Last edited by G@mespotter on Tue May 10, 2016 6:31 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Walking is the best way to explore Kruger: 2x Olifants Backpack Trail (2009, 2016), 3x Mphongolo Backpack Trail (2011, 2013, 2015), 1x Mathikithi Wilderness Trail (2022).
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Re: Mphongolo Back Pack Trail

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:thumbs_up:
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Last edited by G@mespotter on Tue May 10, 2016 6:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Walking is the best way to explore Kruger: 2x Olifants Backpack Trail (2009, 2016), 3x Mphongolo Backpack Trail (2011, 2013, 2015), 1x Mathikithi Wilderness Trail (2022).
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Re: Mphongolo Back Pack Trail

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:thumbs_up:
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Last edited by G@mespotter on Tue May 10, 2016 6:35 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Walking is the best way to explore Kruger: 2x Olifants Backpack Trail (2009, 2016), 3x Mphongolo Backpack Trail (2011, 2013, 2015), 1x Mathikithi Wilderness Trail (2022).
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