- One of my favourite camping places in South Africa, and I can safely say for Trevor as well, is the Kruger National Park. There is just something so magical about sitting next to a camp fire at night under a star lit sky listening to the sounds of the bush.
- I could honestly write a book about our awesome camping trips to Kruger over the years.
- We usually go for 2-3 weeks over the December period and spend most of our time camping at our favourite camp, Satara. The S100 road is well known for awesome game spotting. We’ve witnessed a lion take down a waterbuck between the cars. There goes the theory that lion don’t eat waterbuck!
- This particular time we decided to do the Lebombo 4×4 trail in the month of June instead of our usual camping trip in December.
About Lebombo Trail
- The trip only allows for maximum of 5 vehicles, 4 people per vehicle, plus a guide and his vehicle.
- You camp for 4 nights, 5 days at 4 different bush camps: Mitini, Pumbe, Shilowa and Ndzepfuri.
- The trip always starts on a Sunday and ends on a Thursday. You meet at Crocodile Bridge and the trip ends at Pafuri. It is a guided 4×4 self drive trip that follows the Lebombo mountain range. You travel about 525km across the park.
- You spend 1 night at each bush camp. Each camp has a central cement braai area and the ablution consists of a bucket pulley system for your shower and long drop toilets which are immaculately clean with no nasty odours.
- We were only 3 vehicles on the trip. We were 4 people in our vehicle, 1 other vehicle with a couple and then our armed guide Jacob and his vehicle.
Hippo in the camp?
- Our first night was at Mitini camp which is close to a river. We set up camp and enjoyed the evening out in the middle of the bush with no-one else around us. Once we were all in bed the hippos began their chorus. It sounded like they were right on top of us. I wasn’t too worried as we were in our roof top tent, never mind our friends Rory and Daria in their dome tent (which looked like a hippo) on the ground! Sometime during the night Rory called out to Trevor asking if the hippos were in the camp. He thought with Trevor being so high up he would see if there were hippos. Never mind the fact that we were in the middle of the bush in complete darkness……Trevor never even opened his eyes, he just turned over and said: “No Rory they not in the camp.” You can imagine his horror the next morning when he heard that Trevor never even looked! Luckily the hippos were in the water that night and wouldn’t have been able to get up the steep bank to where we were camping.
- On another night we had other visitors, this time a herd of buffalo had come through our camp. We could hear them breaking the branches as they moved around.
- Another great thing about this trail is that you get to drive on roads that you wouldn’t normally be allowed to as all visitors have to stick to the main roads in the park. It was so awesome being the only vehicles on those roads. With our great guide, Jacob, we were also able to stop and get out of our vehicles anywhere we wanted to. One particular place Jacob took us to for a lunch stop was so beautiful. We stopped in the middle of a low lying bridge over water. It was so peaceful sitting and listening to the trickling water and the sounds of nature with no-one else around but our group.
- When we were just about at our final camp stop on the 4th day we could smell death in the air. We tried to locate exactly where it was coming from but we were running out of time and we had to set up camp before dark. The next morning we ventured out again and when the smell got stronger we left the vehicles and set out on foot. I made sure I walked as close as possible to our armed guide Jacob. With the horrific amount of poaching taking place, we could very well stumble upon poachers. It was nerve wrecking to say the least but it didn’t take long for us to stumble upon a grizzly sight. A beautiful elephant had been poached. It was devastating to see. It’s one thing to hear about it and see it on social media and quite another to see it right in front of you. It was the first poaching encounter for all of us including our guide Jacob. We noted the co-ordinates and reported it to the nearest camp. Jacob estimated the carcass to be about 2 days old. It was close to the Mozambique border so he presumed the poachers had been looking for rhino, were unsuccessful and on their way back to Mozambique when they stumbled upon the elephant. Rather than leave empty handed they killed the elephant and took his tusks. It is just too horrific to comprehend!
- From the very start of our trip Jacob told us that we were no longer tourists, but trailists! It’s awesome being a trailist. It was really difficult going back to being tourists when our trip was over.
- If you are looking for an incredible camping bush experience with an excellent guide, then the Lebombo 4×4 Trail is not to be missed.
Happy camping with SA Campsites, find your campsite!