Follow in the footsteps of giants: New SANParks Kruger pilgrimage 2019 auction date set

The first people travelling on foot into the heart of Africa followed the trails created over thousands of years by the giants of the bush. 

Now you can too, as auction dates for the new trail, described as a three-year Kruger pilgrimage divided over six separate legs, have been announced. The auction for the first leg of The Kruger Trail takes place on 19 October 2018.

The first two groups have completed the 2018 leg of the new Kruger trail - having had what can best be described as an "elephant of a time", says SANParks Honorary Ranger  and organiser Louis Lemmer.  

The 600-kilometre hiking pilgrimage divided into six legs of roughly 100 kilometres – each taking six days to complete - giving hardcore, bushwhacking adventures a unique perspective of South Africa's famous Kruger National Park - one of the last remaining wilderness areas in Africa. 

Over and above that it contributes to the conservation efforts of SANParks's honorary rangers who help protect SA's natural heritage.

This is the long-standing dream of the honorary rangers come to life, says Lemmer, “The dream to re-connect modern man to the wilderness”.

Only four new trails, each for parties of eight, will be made available for 2019. Lemmer cautions, this is a strenuous trail, where fitness, strength and resilience are important.

NB: The Kruger Trail is an unsupported backpack trail, with a “leave nothing behind but your footprints” approach. This is the ultimate wilderness experience. All proceeds will be used to support conservation initiatives that will protect our natural heritage for generations to come.

'Six legs, 100km per leg, 2 legs per year, three years to complete'

“Leg 1 is auctioned, where after there is a set price for each following leg,” says Lemmer, as the experience is ultimately set to attract nature lovers with a long-term vision to not only experience Kruger at its wildest but add invaluable support to the honorary rangers' conservation efforts. 

Lemmer says this year the starting bids are set at R50 900 for a group of eight, which covers the running costs of the experience, with added funds thereafter all going in support of conservation.

The leg will be sold as a unit to a group of eight and no individual spaces will be sold unfortunately. 

Those who have completed the first leg, will automatically qualify to book the additional five other legs at a set rate of R50 900 per group thereafter, which works out to R6 363 per person. The suggested time-frame to complete the entire six-leg trail is three years. 

'Ultimate wilderness experience'

“This is the ultimate wilderness experience, the wilderness cannot be conquered, it becomes part of you and enriches your soul,” says Lemmer as he outlines some of the highlights of what those who are fortunate enough to book the trail can expect.

Hikers will get the opportunity to walk the length of Kruger and experience special places, which are not accessible by vehicle, with Lemmer adding that Kruger rangers and staff who did the overall planning of the trail, will also provide emergency and logistical support throughout.

By securing the first leg of the trail, you gain the opportunity to complete all six legs of the journey, says Lemmer. 

What to expect from the first leg of the 2019 Kruger Trail:

"This leg takes you from Crook’s Corner on the unpredictable Limpopo River, through some of the wildest places in Kruger. You will pass Thulamela where a powerful chief once ruled over his subjects from an ancient hilltop fortress.

"You will see some magnificent baobab trees, sandstone hills and drink from a holy spring. Eventually, you will move on to the Mopane plains which are the haunt of some of Kruger’s biggest Tuskers, before reaching your destination at the remote Vlakteplaas Rangers Station."

But keep in mind this will be bushwhacking at its most primal and you will have to carry your own equipment throughout.

"You will travel over diverse habitat and challenging terrain. You can expect high temperatures, cold wind, rain and lots of sun.

“We have no set campsites but we sleep in million-star rated facilities in the heart of the bush. You will get to experience the Baobab Forest in Pafuri and natural interactions and sightings are guaranteed," says Lemmer.

“Expect special experiences with the big and small residents of Kruger," he says 

If you go, here are some of the key things you need to know:

Two experienced and knowledgeable guides will look after you through the six-night, seven-day bushwhacking adventure, providing trail lists with a deeper knowledge and insight into the wilderness experience. Want to add your bid to the February auction? Contact Lemmer directly on thekrugertrail@gmail.com.

What is the duration of the trial?

  • The trail is divided into six legs.  Each leg is around 90-100 km.
  • Each leg is done over six days and seven nights.
  • A group will walk two legs per year and complete the trail in three years.

What preparation is required by those taking part?

  • Participants need to be fit and strong. It is not an easy route.
  • It is an unsupported backpack route.  
  • They will walk on average around 15 to 20km per day with a full backpack.
  • The trail follows game paths where available, but there will be a lot of bushwalking.
  • Previous experience of a multi-day backpack trail is recommended.

What do they need to bring with them?

  • Participants carry all they need for the full leg and utilise their own equipment.
  • This includes food, tent and personal belongings.
  • Water is sourced from natural sources such as rivers and fountains.

What does it cost?

  • Entry through first-leg auction
  • Thereafter R50 900 per leg for a group of eight guests.  

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