For those interested in a slightly more adventurous holiday, the park offers visitors with their own 4×4 vehicles the opportunity of undertaking either a one-day adventure trail or the wellestablished five-day Lebombo Mountain 4×4 trail through the park. There are four off-road trail routes allowing you to escape the normal tourist routes and explore the back end of beyond. Each one-day excursion is booked at the nearest camp or gate on the day of your trip – no pre-booking is possible. Six vehicles are allowed on each route each day, although the routes can be closed at any time if conditions are unsafe or when driving on the route will harm the environment. This is particularly problematic in the summer rainy season when the routes are impassable after heavy thundershowers.
The park recommends that vehicles are equipped with a GPS, cellphone (there is good coverage over all the routes), first-aid kit, fire extinguisher (you pass through fields of long grass that catch in your radiator, so beware), rubbish bag and at least five litres of drinking water. There are no ablutions or other facilities en route.
While you are on the route, certain restrictions are relaxed and you are permitted to alight from your vehicle (at your own risk), but be careful and aware of animals at all times. Further, you should not stray more than 10 m from your vehicle at any stage.
You should leave no later than 11h00 to ensure you make it back before the gates close. Although the routes are not demanding in terms of off-road driving, your vehicle must be equipped with low range in order to negotiate one or two tricky sections without doing too much damage to the environment. If you get stuck, do not leave your vehicle. A ranger will be dispatched to help once you do not report back to camp in the evening – although this could be only the next morning (other-wise they wouldn’t call it ‘adventure’, now, would they…).
The Madlabantu (‘man-eater’) trail circles Pretoriuskop in the southwest of the park, using a combination of offroad paths and standard visitor roads to take adventurers through the tall grass plains typical of the Pretoriuskop sourveld. The trail begins from the Fayi Loop, and heads south to the Nsikazi River, which it then follows until this links up with the H2-2 (Voortrekker Road), whereafter you take normal roads north to a second section of offroad track beginning near the beautiful granite koppie on the S10 north of Pretoriuskop. The two halves of the route are very different: in the south you face nothing more challenging than a farm track passing through undulating undulating grasslands, while in the north there are one or two tricky dongas that require more care.
The route passes through some of the largest concentrations of white rhino in the park, so keep a sharp lookout. You may also encounter reedbuck, sable, lion, wild dog, elephant and buffalo.
Mananga, meaning ‘wilderness’, is an apt description of this trail, which passes through the game-rich plains northeast of Satara. The trail itself is not much of a challenge and the trickiest parts entail crossing a small drift that is simple to say the least. Of course, this allows you to truly appreciate the beauty of this knobthorn- and marula-studded savanna ecozone. In particular, look out for giraffe, steenbok, wildebeest, zebra, cheetah, lion and sable as you meander along the flat grasslands.
This trail, the northernmost off-road route in Kruger, passes through wide open grassy terrain northeast of Punda Maria Camp. This gives way to the shrub mopane further north and the trail ends along a mopane-lined avenue dotted with majestic old baobabs. The only human intrusion in the area, aside from the path you are following, are the electricity pylons carrying power from the Cahora Bassa hydroelectric scheme in Mozambique. Look out for wild dog, nyala, Sharpe’s grysbok, buffalo, elephant and zebra along the route.
The Nonokani route, which means ‘drive slowly’, meanders through pretty, mixed mopane/bushwillow vegetation towards the Reënvoel Dam south of Phalaborwa Gate. It then continues all the way south to the banks of the Olifants River before turning north, eventually ending at the busy Sable Dam. Look out for eland, sable, white rhino, buffalo and elephant. This trail was temporarily closed in early 2009.
This five-day trail begins at Crocodile Bridge and heads north, covering some 500 km as it winds its way along the Lebombo Mountains, mostly along or close to the Mozambique border, ending in Pafuri. Departures are on Sunday mornings from Crocodile Bridge and participants are requested to meet their guides (who drive their own SANParks vehicles) at 09h00. The trail takes four nights and five days, finishing at Pafuri Picnic Spot at approximately 13h00.
Five four-wheel-drive vehicles are allowed on the trail at any one time, each carrying a maximum of four people. Each vehicle and its occupants should be completely self-reliant as the trail is self-catered (see opposite for a list of recommended equipment). To maintain the wilderness feeling as far as possible, there are no facilities at camp sites, with the exception of two portable toilets.
As you drive, your guide will make regular stops in order to explain a little more about the environment through which you are passing and facilitate your understanding of the bush. This is not a diabolical off-road route and is no test of your 4×4 skills. Rather it is aimed at true nature lovers who hanker after a little wilderness to call their own … even if it is only for a while.
For bookings contact SANParks on phone 012-426-5117 or e-mail email@example.com. No children younger than 12 years old are allowed on the trails. If you require accommodation at the beginning or end of the trail you must book this separately with central reservations – see page 14.