He puts on his trusty taupe colour veldskoen (“desert shoes” for the English folk), ties his shoelaces with the finesse of an African fish eagle in flight, grabs his walking gear and crunches his way across the open tented camp to wake-up his Danish guests. The Danes sense of” Hygge” is interrupted when they’re urged to rise at the cockerel hour of 5:30 to embark on a walking trail in the Maseke Balule Game Reserve. But don’t worry, when the Danes return there’ll be a campfire, drink and food to welcome them back home. And once again, the Hygge is restored!
Trails guide Luan possesses arsenal of bushveld knowledge – his experience is as old as his trusty veldskoene (the same ones from the intro paragraph). Having grown-up in the bushveld and guided many wilderness trails, Luan is certainly the perfect candidate to lead Kruger walking safaris. Not only did his Danish guests learn about the surrounding flora and fauna, but they were also captivated by his stories of mind-blowing things that happen in the wild.
Local photographer – Em Gatland – joined the Danish family on trails. Her mission was simply to photograph the Wilderness Trails experience and deliver any news of epic on-foot sightings.
Trails guide Luan likes to cover all bases, so after a day of traipsing and fighting through heavy green vegetation (summer trails), he normally takes guests on an evening game drive to seek out nocturnal predators. It’s always quite nice to discover the tracks on foot during the day, learn about the “owners” whereabouts and locate them at night !
On foot we discover and learn about a delightful terrestrial world often ignored while in a game viewer. In our game viewer we get up close to predators and can cover a fair bit of ground.
Africa on Foot Wilderness Trails is the best of both worlds and offers a completely immersive wild experience in the Kruger’s back country.
We got hold of Em to ask her about the walking safari. She said, “We had quite a few sightings of elephants but they were mainly in the distance. The bush is so green and lush at the moment, so at times we really had to fight through some vegetation.
This meant that we had to keep our eyes peeled for game possibly hiding in the thickets. The landscape really is beautiful in the summer ! The normal suspects were seen while on foot : giraffe, small critters and a monitor lizard hiding out in a tree. A highlight was tracking the African wild dogs on foot, and then finding them later on during the game drive. Their tails were spotted first and then the unmistakable dancing and prancing of dogs happened right in front of us.”
All in all, it was yet another successful Trails expedition under our belts. Each trail holds something different when it comes to sightings, and the colours of landscapes are forever shifting when a new season emerges.
* Creative license : The bit about Luan’s veldskoen might have been embellished. We cannot confirm nor deny how the age of his vellies. It’s also to be noted that photographer Em also owns a pair of Hoedspruit-must-have-veldskoen, but they’re not from a bygone era. They also served her well on trails.