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Guest post: Walking in the footsteps of giants along the mighty Olifants

Hello all

We're absolutely delighted to introduce a magical guest post by Kruger trails guide Mohammed Kathrada.

Mohammed escorts guests on the remote Olifants Trails route that follows the course of one of the largest perennial rivers in Kruger - the mighty Olifants. Read on to experience the sounds and atmosphere of exploring the incredible wildlife and wilderness of Kruger National Park on foot...



By Mohammed Kathrada

Wind, rain and a blanket of clouds.

That may not sound ideal but if one is presented with these conditions inside the Kruger National Park then, hands down, it beats a sunny day in the city.

And these were the conditions that we faced at the start of our Olifants backpack trail.

Myself and the reputable Danie Vermeulen set out to guide a group of excited and enthusiastic like-minded bush lovers through a four day backpack trail along the Olifants River.

A selection of essential kit carried by Kruger's backpack trail guides

The journey started off on the dry Tutsi riverbed. Meandering through arid mopaneveld, we were welcomed only by wind and dust until we broke the tree line and the mighty Olifants River greeted us in all its glory.

Sunrise over the Olifants River, image by Carol Stewart

The distant grunts of hippo and the slow movement of water filled the atmosphere. Setting up our tents under the watchful eye of nocturnal species and settling in for the night to the call of the nightjar, that is when it hits you that this is home. This is Africa.

Your senses awaken the next day to the calls of brown-headed parrots and golden-breasted buntings. Our journey of a thousand beauties continue into the unknown of the African wilderness, the day passes by meandering through the river thickets and shade is captured under the magnificent mahogany trees.

Pausing to catch your breath and observe mother nature at her finest as the herds of waterbuck and impala congregate to enjoy the source of life that fills the banks of the mighty Olifants.

This place one visits is a place where time is kept by the calls that surround you. When the spotted hyena issues his whoop and giggle, then it is the unspoken command that time for a peaceful rest is upon us.

We are truly blessed with wilderness like no other right on our doorstep. From Matumi forests that house the ever-so-rare Pel's fishing owl, to pools that issue refuge to hippo in the harsh sun - it is all here in Africa in our very own Kruger National Park.

Yet before we know it, the journey that followed the footsteps of African giants comes to an end in the notorious heat of the Lowveld and we say goodbye to our dear friend the mighty Olifants.

Until next time.

Mohammed Kathrada is a backpack trails guide for SANParks in Kruger National Park.

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Many thanks for reading and supporting our project!

Danny & Charlotte

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