Things To Do in SkukuzaMetsi-Metsi Wilderness Trail
Where? Start and finish at Skukuza Main Camp, Kruger National Park.
When? Booking is essential. Contact SAN Parks.
How much? Price on request
Start: Skukuza Main Camp, Kruger National Park, 6 km from the Mozambique border
Finish: Skukuza Main Camp
Duration: 2 days (3 nights)
Fitness: relatively fit to manage long walks, but the morning and afternoon hikes are mostly on the flat
Our tip: choose your group companions carefully
Metsi-Metsi is Sotho for 'water water'. The camp lies at the foot of the Nwarmuriwa Mountain, overlooking a small waterhole.
You can expect two days of early morning walking, followed by an afternoon nap during the heat of the day (11am - 3pm) and then an early evening walk. One's nights are spent in a wilderness camp that is quite different from the usual Kruger camps – no high walls or fences, little infrastructure, no electricity and four A-frame huts for guests with a central communal area for camp fires and eating.
But the main feature of a wilderness trail is not the amount of game you see (if it is sheer numbers you're after then rather remain in your car and drive the reserve) but the close-up encounters and the wealth of knowledge you will glean from your guide about animal tracks and dung, plants, and smaller creatures. This is an experience of the bushveld that no car journey will ever give you.
On wilderness trails, like Metsi-Metsi, you will learn about lizard eggs, the fungus gardens of the termite mound, and the magic gwarri tree. Depending on how quiet your group is, you may spot owls, scorpions, evidence of porcupines, even lions and cheetah (uncommon but not unheard of).
49% of the Kruger is assigned wilderness, where there is no infrastructure and daily tourists are not allowed. It is in this portion of the park that the wilderness trails take place.
Daily trails, which start with a very early morning wake-up call, can include a walk over the ridges south-east of Skukuza, a trail north to the northern reaches close to Lindinda dam, a walk along the Nwaswitsontso River bed (one of the few permanent sources of water during winter) where one often manages to sight antelope, giraffe and the odd elephant, and sundowners at Silolweni dam (look out for hippos).
Lunches and dinner are prepared by the camp cook. Your nights are spent under the skies lulled to sleep by the sounds of jackals, lions and even the odd leopard.
Wilderness trails in the Kruger are understandably popular, so book ahead on the SanParks website. If you want to stay in the park before and after the trail, book accommodation at Skukuza.