I recently finished the Wolhuter Wilderness Trail and had an unforgettable experience. There aren’t a lot of write-ups about the trip here, so I thought I’d offer some advice for people thinking about doing this wilderness trail (and I’m guessing these would be useful for other trails as well).
First of all is a wilderness trail right for you? Take this simple test:
1. Is your main goal in visiting Kruger is to see the Big 5? If so then you’ll see more of the big five by staying in your car and perhaps taking a couple of ranger-led drives from the main Rest Camps.
2. Do you want to get out of your car and walk the terrain, exploring the trees, the landscape, and small animals like insects? If so, then yes you should seriously consider doing a wilderness trail. If you don’t have the time I suspect the 2-4-hour ranger-led walks that leave from the rest camps could give you a similar experience.
3. Do you think you would lose your composure when a rhino fifty feet away from you starts to bolt? If so, then no. Don’t put your guide and other hikers in danger. At least on the Wolhuter trail this seems to be a reasonably common event. And please, do not listen to other reviewers who suggest you should run from rhinos. Your guides will explain that running is the most dangerous thing you can do. If you obey your guides they can keep you safe.
4. Do you want to learn about the bush from people who have lived all their lives in it? If so, then yes. I don’t know what all the guides are like, but ours were rangers who have clearly been reading the land and tracking animals since they were kids.
5. Do you expect 5 star service and accommodation? Forget the trails then. The camp was much more civilized than I expected – with hot showers and tiny but reasonably comfortable A-frames – but it is still roughing it compared to the Bungalows we stayed in elsewhere in the camp.
Are you still with me? If so, I can’t completely prepare you for the 3 night excursion, nor would I want to, but here are a few tips that will make your experience better:
1. Bring the right clothes. I was a bit worried about being a cliché tourist. I needn’t have been. Khaki or olive drab green clothes are expected. Bright colors frighten the animals. Should you wear a silly bush hat? Your guides wear them to protect from the sun and occasional tree branches, so why not? Long pants are a must and we found that treating our clothes with permethrin did a good job of keeping the mosquitoes away.
2. Bring the right shoes. Waterproof hiking boots are almost a must. You are going to be trudging 15-20 km a day through fields, puddles, streams, and scrub. Dry comfortable feet will make your experience much better. An extra pair of lighter, comfortable shoes to wear around camp is good too.
3. Bring gaiters. I wasn’t quite sure what these were when I saw previous reviews of the trails. Now I know. You are going to be walking through dozens of different kinds of grasses, most of which will find a way to work themselves through your socks and into your skin. If you don’t wear gaiters you’ll be slowly picking rather painful seeds and burrs out of your ankles while the rest of the group watches a parade of elephants.
4. Other recommended items to pack: a headtorch for navigating the camp at night (there’s no electricity); flip flops for the shower; binoculars; water bottle / camelback
5. If you like to drink with dinner or around the campfire at night, feel free to bring along some alcohol – there is a good-sized fridge to store it in. And if you do, make sure to bring a little extra to share with your guides and the cook.
6. Everything is included in the package – transportation, food, housing, and tours. The only cash you’ll need is for tipping the staff. Ours certainly did a wonderful job at keeping us safe and entertained and well fed.
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