About Mphongolo Backpacking Trail

Start: Shingwedzi Camp
Finish: Shingwedzi Camp
Duration: 4 days and 3 nights (roughly 7-13 km/day), departing every Wed and Sun
Fitness: relatively fit, the distance covered daily depends on the group as where and when you camp is up to the trail leader; but the terrain is not too rough and the pace comfortable
Numbers: 4 minimum, 8 maximum
Our tip: Take along a hydration bladder – they're much lighter than glass, foldable and tough – and a head torch

Kruger National Park describes this hike as 'primitive. It is one of three backpacking trails through Kruger (the other two are The Lonely Bull Trail and the Olifants River Trail) that allow the opportunity to backpack in the Kruger wilderness with no predesignated paths and no pre-determined camps.

It's you, and the bush.

So, if you're someone who can't wait to experience the bush exactly as it is – no toilets, no luxuries – then you'll love falling asleep to the sound of lions roaring, the call of owls and leopards, and the waking sounds of francolins.

The trail explores the vast wilderness between the Shingwedzi and Mphongolo rivers, led by two experienced trail rangers. And whilst you could stumble across something big – like elephant, buffalo or waterbuck – at any minute, the hike is less about seeing the Big 5 than it is about the whole bush experience.

Be warned: you carry all you need on your back, including your spade and bog roll. So you'll need to balance necessities, and enough food to last you three nights, with how much you're content to carry (the optimum weight for comfort is a quarter of your body weight).

You'll set up, and dismantle, your own tent, cook your own food and leave the camp exactly as you found it – the trail operates on a 'take it in, take it out' and 'no trace camping' ethic and insists on biodegradable soaps and detergents.

To take with you: camping equipment, cooking utensils and stove, sunscreen, a hat and comfortable pair of hiking boots, water purification tablets, refuse bags, sleeping bag, food and water (although camping usually happens close to a water source), insect repellent and anti-malaria tablets.

Need to Know

WhereStart and finish at Shingwedzi Camp in the Kruger National Park, Limpopo.

WhenBooking is essential. The trail is only available February through November (but best game viewing is in winter; avoid the hotter months).

How muchPrices on request.


OvernightStay nearby in Kruger Park, in Mpumalanga


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