Things To Do in SkukuzaOlifants Wilderness Trail
Where? Start and finish at Letaba Rest Camp in the Kruger National Park.
When? Booking is essential. Contact SAN Parks to book.
How much? Price on request
Start: Letaba Rest Camp, Kruger National Park (base camp is a couple of hours' drive from there)
Finish: Letaba Rest Camp, Kruger National Park
Duration: 3 days, 2 nights
Fitness: you need to be fit enough to manage 2 hikes a day (the evening one is gentler), but most of it is on the flat at a leisurely pace, and you don't need to be super fit
Our tip: this trail centres around the Olifants River – hippos and crocodiles are the highlight, but the bird life is also exceptional
Don't confuse the Olifants Wilderness Trail with the Olifants River Back Pack Trail, which is a 4 day, 3 night trail that wanders 42 km along the river, camping out under the stars, on which you carry your own tent and food.
The Olifants Wilderness Trail is a little more tame. You are based in A-frame huts with two beds in each, your meals are cooked for you and your morning and late afternoon walks are accompanied by knowledgeable rangers. However, if en suite bedrooms and heated towel rails are essential then this is not the trail for you.
The concept of a wilderness hike is unique to Africa. Kruger has seven wilderness trails, of which the Olifants is one. 49% of the Kruger is designated wilderness and these camps are miles from the usual tourist routes in Kruger, which gives you a true bush experience.
Once you have experienced a wilderness trail, viewing game from the comfort of your vehicle is ruined forever.
Walks involve heading into the bushveld or along the Olifants River, the highlight of which is to reach the confluence with the Letaba River. Whilst sightings of big game is rather the exception than the rule, when you do manage to eyeball an elephant or buffalo, the experience is incomparable with anything you have seen before at the Kruger.
But it is the little animals in the park, the plants, the odd dung-covered thorn bush, the sun as it peeps over the horizon, and the enchantment of being in the bush so that it gets under your skin that makes this wilderness trail so popular.
The atmospheric campsite has no electricity, no cellphone reception, pole-enclosed loos and hot showers.