SANParks launches new Kruger pilgrimage: Follow in the footsteps of giants

2018-01-05 12:35 - Selene Brophy
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Cape Town - A new trail, described as a three-year Kruger pilgrimage divided over six separate legs, is set to give hardcore, bushwhacking adventures a unique perspective of South Africa's famous Kruger National Park - all the while contributing to the conservation efforts of SANParks's honorary rangers who help protect SA's natural heritage.

This long-standing dream of the honorary rangers will come to life, as the final planning on this exclusive experience is put in place for 2018. According to Louis Lemmer, SANParks Honorary Ranger and Project co-ordinator of the trail, “The dream is to re-connect modern man to the wilderness”.

But Lemmer warns, this is a strenuous trail, where fitness, strength and resilience are important.

As a SANParks endorsed experience, Lemmer says only two first-leg trails will be sold for 2018, to "ensure and protect the wilderness character of the trail".

“We do not foresee starting more than five new trails per year,” he says.

The first trail will be auctioned on 3 February 2018. 

'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 the starting bids are set at R48 000 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 R48 000 per group, which works out to R6 000 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.

“We start at Crooks Corner on the Limpopo river in the North and end on the Crocodile River in the South.”

“Along the way the group will visit sites of archeological, ecological and cultural significance. They will see Bushman paintings and travel on the old trade routes. They will also visit warm water fountains, walk through spectacular river gorge as well as climb the highest mountain in Kruger.

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 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

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 km. 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 R48 000 per leg for a group of eight guests.  

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