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Short trip report - iMfolozi wilderness walking trail


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This is a brief account of our walking safari in Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park in August-September 2004. I realise that this was a long time ago but Sangeeta had asked for more information, so starting a new thread. I must admit that I don’t remember all the details but will try my best to provide general information.


This was our very first trip to Africa and very first experience of the African bush. After 12+ trips later, I can confidently say that this trip really hooked us on to Africa. We both can actually pinpoint the start of our love with Africa to the exact moment – During our walking trail, we were sitting at the top of a hill in iMfolozi, having lunch with the guide and other guests and the guide pointed out 2 large bull elephants walking in the riverbed below. Watching those majestic creatures in their wild surroundings below, going about their own business, we realised that we HAD TO come back!


Sorry, I digress!


At the time of this trip, we had nothing to compare it to. However, after being on walking safaris in SA, Zambia and Zimbabwe many times since then, I can wholeheartedly recommend the wilderness trails organised by KZN Wildlife. It is not for everyone due to fairly basic facilities but it was an affordable, value-for-money, well run operation.


We did a 4 night wilderness trail on iMfolozi side of the park. We were a group of 7 guests, a guide and a guard. We checked into the base camp for the trail (sorry, can’t remember any names!) one afternoon. The base camp consisted of small dome tents with camp cots, built on permanent concrete platforms. The camp had a communal shower and toilet facilities under a thatched structure. The evening was spent in getting to know the group and the guide and ended with a safety briefing from the guide around the camp fire.


The trail started the next morning, just before the sunrise. All our luggage was transferred into the bags provided by the organisers, which were more suitable for carrying on the donkeys. The luggage was transferred to the camping site on the donkeys, leaving us to carry the cameras and a couple of bottles of water. All the guests were expected to share the load of carrying lunch and the snacks for the day in our backpacks e.g. bread, cheeses, nuts, etc. The lunches were simple, usually s’wiches, fruits, nuts etc. We reached the camp site by sunset and were welcomed by a roaring fire and smells of a stew boiling on the fire. The camp (dome tents with mattresses on the floor) was already set-up by the cook and a camp-hand. Facilities consisted of a bucket shower, hung over a tree branch away from the tents (no enclosure) and a spade, a loo-role and a box of matchsticks!


On the very first night, while sitting around the fire after night, my husband and one of the young boys from the other family travelling with us, suddenly noticed an elephant not too far from where we were sitting. He seemed relaxed but a bit too close for comfort so the guide asked us to start moving behind a large tree nearby. We must have made a lot of noise while moving because the elephant freaked out, started trumpeting and coming closer. By then, we were behind the tree, couldn’t see the elephant and only heard the trumpeting! The guide, the guard and the cook tried to shoo the elephant away but with no luck. He was determined and they ultimately had to use a smoke grenade to get the situation under control. What a way to spend our first night in the bush :)



On the second day, we sat watching 3-4 rhinos ahead until the guard at the back noticed additional 2-3 rhinos walking towards us from behind! The dinners were very simple but they provided plenty of delicious food. No three course meals but usually single pot meals such as stews, potjie etc, always served with freshly baked bread and salads. Fresh fruits were always available. We usually had fresh coffee, cereal and porridge before leaving in the morning and carried our lunch with us.


We spent 2 nights in the trails camp and walked back the base camp on the fourth day, where we spent the fourth night. The trail ended after b’fast on the fifth day. We saw a pack of wild dogs on our way out of the park.


Now looking back after so many years, I can say that we always felt safe and enjoyed every moment. I can now see the difference in the guiding styles between different countries. It may have been down to difference in training approach. In hindsight, Zambia/Zimbabwe is a better walking experience but iMfolozi is not bad at all. From what I remember, the guard also acted as an additional pair of eyes and worked as a team with the guide. No real tracking in the bush there. It was more about following the bush trails and seeing what we found - which was not a great deal in close proximity but rhino were in abundance, almost like cattle. Excellent rhino viewing but with the current poaching situation, don’t know how its changed.


The experience is very basic, more basic than mobile safaris, but if you are after a simple time in the bush, this is not a bad idea. The park is very beautiful.


Sorry, no photos available but happy to answer any questions!


GW - could you please move this the TR section? Thanks.

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Many thanks for sharing. It sounds a lot like the backpacking trails in Kruger. The one we did was a wilderness trail, where you stay at the one exclusive campsite and do morning and afternoon walks in the vicinity.

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Smoke grenade on the first night. Holy Smokes, literally. Hope that was a rarity.

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Kavita, many thanks for doing this and I am so sorry for not having responded to this thread sooner considering how promptly you wrote this up when asked (I have a sick doggie at home who has been taking up all my time & attention lately).


Your report coincides almost exactly with dikdik's description of this walking safari & both of you seem to hold it in high regard, which is a terrific testimonial coming from experienced safari goers like both of you. Interesting, isn't it, how one's first trip to Africa remains so brightly etched in all our minds, as well as that particular moment when we realize that we've fallen hard and no place else will ever be quite the same again :) I can picture you two sitting on a rise and watching the eles when the epiphany hit! For me, it was sitting on the rooftop in a Mara twilight watching a herd of impala slowly inch closer and closer to us and finally forget that the vehicle was there at all. It was magical.


I will definitely do this trail - it sounds just like what a walking safari should be.

Edited by Sangeeta
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