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The Primitive Trail. Hluhluwe iMfolozi, Kwa-Zulu Natal.


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Soukous

What about Biltong for snacks @@Soukous or was that already included in your food provisions?

 

I like biltong @@wilddog and we did have a good supply with us brought by other participants. I kind of assumed that would be in someones else's bag anyway.

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I shall start with a quote from Shakespeare's KING HENRY V: And thus it was we few, we happy few, we band of brothers, brought together through Safaritalk, @@Bugs, @@Soukous, @@Peter Connan and I,

Just a few photos from that first day from me. Matt is telling the story.   We, @@Bugs, @@Game Warden & I, overnighted in St Lucia on our way to iMfolozi and met up with Mark and Leyland.   A

Meeting any of the larger animals while on foot is a very different prospect than when seeing them from a safri vehicle. When you are yourself weighed down with 25-odd kilograms of useless junk and ti

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Pennyanne

@@Soukous @@Bugs @@Game Warden @@Peter Connan Thanks to all of you for such a fascinating and interesting trip report. The trail sounds arduous and very challenging but also extremely rewarding. I admire you all. The lion charge must have supplied some adrenaline at the beginning!

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Atravelynn

Wow, what an adventure that kicks off with Shakespeare. You documented the first day so well in words and photos. Taking a watch at night with predators signaling their presence is wild stuff. I'm also impressed with your campfire cullinary skills! I am looking forward to hiking this trail with you.

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Atravelynn

Peter,thanks for the info on the donkeys, which for a SPLIT second, I imagined myself heading out on this adventure; but then POST NO. 24 stopped me smack dab in my tracks, and I thought....hmmm...maybe no.

That lioness in #24 is an arresting photo. "but now we are caught between the lions and the rhino." All in a day's work for Sibelo I suppose, but wow.

 

Wonderful choice of photos--flowers that smell of death, colorful insects, taking a swig, sweaty faces, resting beards...

Both the beauty and the grittiness of it all are captured.

 

Place of the puff adders, rising river levels in the night, sounds of lions killing and feasting nearby in the dark. This is not for the feint of heart!

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Atravelynn

@@Game Warden - during our visit we uncovered a few hard truths about the state of rhinos in some parks. We don't want to reveal which areas have been hard hit and which are having success due to sensitivities. Rhino keepers are so paranoid about drawing attention to themselves for fear of revealing inadequacies in their anti-poaching or because they fear negative press may result in lower visitor numbers. All we can say is that the situation is rather desperate and there appears to be no end. The cost of protecting rhino has taken a huge toll on smaller operations, and the more wealthy reserves are able to cope slightly better, but the stress does show, and other infrastructure is being ignored while funds are being spent on anti-poaching.

That may even be part of the strategy, exhaust the conservation resources. Sad.

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xelas

That trip report alone will change the way I am going to experience Africa in future visits!

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christabir

I have been interested in the ImFolozi trails for a few years now! Thanks so much for all of the great info, fun and adventure. ImFolozi is famous for the best walking trails in S Africa (and maybe anywhere). I have fallen in love with KZN since we were there a few years back to visit the place that brought the rhino back from the brink. Hluhluwe ImFolozi is spectacular and so important. The news about the anti poaching activity just makes me sad. I can't believe we (the human we) are exterminating these magnificent animals again.

 

There are a few levels of trails - you guys are brave to choose the Primitive Trail. I don't camp, so that's a no for me! But here is a list of all of them with details. Yes, they have donkeys! And beds and toilets!

 

http://www.ekznw.co.za/wilderness%20trails%20%20brochure.pdf

 

I really appreciate the details and personal adventures you all shared. I am looking forward to someday try one of the less adventurous trails. The lion encounter is terrifying, but it didn't seem to scare any of you off. I'm impressed.

 

We visited Rhino River Lodge in Zululand Rhino Reserve - just north of Hluhluwe ImFolozi - this week last year and did a rhino conservation outing that included darting a young rhino who was still with her mom so they knew a little of her bloodline, notching her ears for ID, taking her DNA in case she gets poached so they can prosecute the b#¥^&tards if they catch them, rhino LoJack and a tracker in her little horn. It was our best day. We were able to be there while they did what they do and the veterinarian let my husband inject the LoJack and let me inject her to wake her up (and run!). So if anyone wants to do something incredibly fun and less adventurous, it's great!

 

Thanks again.

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That trip report alone will change the way I am going to experience Africa in future visits!

 

I love this comment. if you knew how many times we asked ourselves if we had lost our minds and then had to remind ourselves that - few people will actually do this, yet it is the most authentic way to enjoy the wilderness.

 

Remember - there are the more comfortable ways of doing walking safaris on offer.

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xelas

@@Bugs

 

I would love to be a part of a group like yours ... in fact, by reading this report, all in one morning, I was part of your journey!

 

There are slim chances I would ever do it myself; yet I will remember all the thoughts and all the sounds and all the scents that were portrayed, and next time I will sit outside the cabin (luckily it will be a wilderness cabin in Kgalagadi) I will be able much better to understand what is going on around me. Thank You all for bringing that to me.

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Atravelynn

"...every single white rhino in the world can trace its ancestory back to this park, back to the valiant efforts of Ian Player, Dave Cook, Paul Dutton and many other Operation Rhino chaps in the 60s and 70s had it not been for them, had it not been for the private owners, had it not been for hunting, had it not been for those pioneers who pushed the rhino out from this small provincial park, but Africa’s oldest, into the hands of private owners, into other parks, there may well be no white rhino left alive now."

 

What a powerful message.

 

This immersion into the wilds seemed to fluctuate between the profound and the schoolboy antics of snickering at naughty sounding names and frolicking in the water. The girls back home are exhibiting some schoolgirl antics as well as we ponder ST covers and centerfolds!

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  • 2 weeks later...
Atravelynn

"One of the blisters had burst and was full of river sand. I needed to get the sand out and so the only thing I could do was cut it open and wash the sand out. @Bugs took great glee in helping me, squirting a jet of water into the wound to flush it out."

 

Something to consider before rushing to book. Any hints on avoiding blisters?

 

When someone had night watch, about how many hours of sleep did they get?

 

How did it work with Maggie, the only woman?

 

Several comments mentioned issues with the back/spine. Do you know if a porter is ever used? I believe this was mentioned earlier. Maybe even hiring one porter for 2 people could work.

 

You went in May and appeared to have no rain. Can you comment on best times to go and if you were prepared for rain?

 

I have finished your extraordinary adventure, a term often used lightly, but definitely not in this case. In fact adventure may be too soft of a term.

 

The built-in interview was a great way to pull the report and experiences you shared together and compare with what others felt.

 

Those sunsets in post #61 are gorgeous. What a coincidence that just moments before reading the last of this report I saw the thumbnail of one of those sunset shots in Game Warden's gallery and just had to look at the enlarge version before commenting on it within the gallery. Then here it is!

 

There was a comment on how little game you saw during the walk. The photos would seem to contradict that statement. And some of the game was heard during the night and not seen, adding to the numbers.

 

Thanks for posting the cost. Not bad at all, but that is likely based on your group size, which in your case was 8.

 

If you mentioned this within the report, my apologies for missing it, but how did this all come about with the particular members and your choice of excursions? Maybe we need a short prequel. Or I need this info copied again for me to read.

 

No matter where else you visit or what you do, this was a one-of-a-kind adventure.

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Peter Connan

@@Atravelynn, I can answer a few of your questions at least:

 

Most of the blisters were caused by us by one of the following factors:

1) When crossing the river, we would normally take our shoes off, then put them back on on the other side. The first time, most of us were not careful enough about getting all the mud/sand of our feet. The grains of sand inside our socks caused the problems.

2) Some guys (particularly @@Soukous, wore shoes that were perhaps not ideal. One needs good quality hiking boots, well worn-in (the definition of well worn-in is that you will need to throw them away by the end of next week)

 

There were eight of us, so in theory standing watch would only take about 1.5-2 hours per night from your potential sleeping time. The effect on the reduction of your effective sleeping time caused by the discomfort is far greater than the impact of standing watch.

 

Maggie would go off and do her ablutions in private. Some of the trip reports Matt scratched out on the web show that there are ladies who do this, and I am sure KZN Wildlife have this covered.

 

I am not sure whether porters are ever used on this specific trial, but doubt it. Some of the other trials offered do provide options.

 

We had a bit of light rain one night, but it was obvious that a major storm narrowly missed us. The information provided by KZN Wildlife requests that trailists bring themselves a light raincoat, and a large plastic bag is supposed to be supplied to keep your stuff dry. I reckon if a lot of rain falls (particularly on subsequent nights), the trail would be pretty uncomfortable.

May is probably the best possible time of the year. Rain is unlikely and the temperatures fair.

 

As far as sightings go, I was very surprised by how much we saw. My experience of walking in the bush is that one usually sees very little, particularly if you are in a fairly large (read noisy) group.

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Safaridude

Guys... wonderfully written and illustrated.

 

I especially appreciate the little things you guys point out (plants, insects, butterflies, etc.) that often go unnoticed while in a vehicle. Thanks for sharing.

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Soukous

@@Atravelynn, I can answer a few of your questions at least:

 

Most of the blisters were caused by us by one of the following factors:

1) When crossing the river, we would normally take our shoes off, then put them back on on the other side. The first time, most of us were not careful enough about getting all the mud/sand of our feet. The grains of sand inside our socks caused the problems.

2) Some guys (particularly @@Soukous, wore shoes that were perhaps not ideal. One needs good quality hiking boots, well worn-in (the definition of well worn-in is that you will need to throw them away by the end of next week)

 

 

I'm embarrassed to admit that @@Peter Connan is correct about the blisters.

I took the same pair of shoes that I've used on every safari for the past few years - both walking and driving - because they are so comfortable. However They were not right for all day hiking on uneven ground with packs. My feet were able to move about too much inside the shoes and this was compounded by repeatedly getting feet wet and covered in sand.

So silly really as I have very good walking boots.

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Atravelynn

@@Atravelynn, I can answer a few of your questions at least:

 

Most of the blisters were caused by us by one of the following factors:

1) When crossing the river, we would normally take our shoes off, then put them back on on the other side. The first time, most of us were not careful enough about getting all the mud/sand of our feet. The grains of sand inside our socks caused the problems. I can relate. Especially if you can't linger leisurely on the bank and dry your feet with your socks or trouser legs, that can be a problem.

2) Some guys (particularly @@Soukous, wore shoes that were perhaps not ideal. One needs good quality hiking boots, well worn-in (the definition of well worn-in is that you will need to throw them away by the end of next week) ha ha

 

There were eight of us, so in theory standing watch would only take about 1.5-2 hours per night from your potential sleeping time. The effect on the reduction of your effective sleeping time caused by the discomfort is far greater than the impact of standing watch.

 

Maggie would go off and do her ablutions in private. Some of the trip reports Matt scratched out on the web show that there are ladies who do this, and I am sure KZN Wildlife have this covered. How about the group dynamics? Do you think it was difficult for her being the only female?

 

I am not sure whether porters are ever used on this specific trial, but doubt it. Some of the other trials offered do provide options.

 

We had a bit of light rain one night, but it was obvious that a major storm narrowly missed us. The information provided by KZN Wildlife requests that trailists bring themselves a light raincoat, and a large plastic bag is supposed to be supplied to keep your stuff dry. I reckon if a lot of rain falls (particularly on subsequent nights), the trail would be pretty uncomfortable. That's what I thought.

May is probably the best possible time of the year. Rain is unlikely and the temperatures fair.

 

As far as sightings go, I was very surprised by how much we saw. My experience of walking in the bush is that one usually sees very little, particularly if you are in a fairly large (read noisy) group. true

Thanks for all the responses!

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Atravelynn

 

@@Atravelynn, I can answer a few of your questions at least:

 

Most of the blisters were caused by us by one of the following factors:

1) When crossing the river, we would normally take our shoes off, then put them back on on the other side. The first time, most of us were not careful enough about getting all the mud/sand of our feet. The grains of sand inside our socks caused the problems.

2) Some guys (particularly @@Soukous, wore shoes that were perhaps not ideal. One needs good quality hiking boots, well worn-in (the definition of well worn-in is that you will need to throw them away by the end of next week)

 

 

I'm embarrassed to admit that @@Peter Connan is correct about the blisters.

I took the same pair of shoes that I've used on every safari for the past few years - both walking and driving - because they are so comfortable. However They were not right for all day hiking on uneven ground with packs. My feet were able to move about too much inside the shoes and this was compounded by repeatedly getting feet wet and covered in sand.

So silly really as I have very good walking boots.

 

I hope the recovery for your feet was swift.

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Peter Connan

@@Atravelynn, I don't think so but this group was really a great bunch, and I suppose that in some groups it could be harder for a single female.

 

However, I do get the feeling that most groups do have more than one lady in them, and almost-all-male groups like ours are relatively rare.

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Soukous

@@Atravelynn, I don't think so but this group was really a great bunch, and I suppose that in some groups it could be harder for a single female.

 

 

not when she's the one carrying the rifle :o @@Peter Connan

Edited by Soukous
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  • 2 months later...
Earthian

@@Game Warden @Soukous @Peter Connan @@Bugs

 

JUst finished reading this from 5 am in the morning. fantastic adventure and thank you for sharing it. Inspiring and humbling stuff.

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  • 1 year later...
Game Warden

I have just re-read our report @Bugs @Peter Connan and @Soukous, having linked to it on another topic, and looking back two years later it really was a great adventure.

 

Matt

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Peter Connan

So have I. Thanks for the reminder @Game Warden

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