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Travel: Kruger’s Lebombo Eco Trail

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Words by Anton Willemse, Pictures by Anton Willemse & Jaco Erasmus

When the guys from Ironman4x4 invited me to join them on the Lebombo 4×4 Eco Trail, the word “yes” was out of my mouth in an instant. Who wouldn’t want to spend four nights exploring the eastern boundary of the Kruger Park with no fences and no people – just us, nature, some fresh air and over 500 kilometres of beautiful dirt roads?

Our team consisted of seven guys: Mic van Zyl, Deon Anderson and Quinton Ebersohn from Ironman4x4 SA; Carl Rogers from Autoquip; Adam Craze from Ironman4x4 Australia on his first trip to Africa; me, representing SA4x4, and my partner-in-crime and back-up photographer, Jaco Erasmus.

The route starts at Crocodile Bridge in the south of the park. We were met by our guide and host for the four nights, Johan van der Walt. The briefing was short and to the point. After we had filled up and checked all of our equipment, we set off, taking a short right on the first management road.

We slowly headed towards the Lebombo Mountains, briefly stopping at the skeleton of an old hippo that had fallen victim to the drought that the country had been experiencing. The sad reality is that, despite the fact the Komati River still had water in it, there simply was not enough grass around for the larger mammals to feed on.

As we climbed, the road suddenly opened up and we found ourselves next to the Mozambique/South African border − with views over the Komati valley below. It was here that we engaged 4H. We spent most of the morning driving up and down the uneven terrain, sticking close to the fence for most of our journey. We stopped at a Rhino Loo, and Johan explained that this was basically the rhinos’ “Bush Facebook”, because every rhino which passed by could find out who had “checked in” at that spot.

We stopped again at Lower Sabie before we headed to our overnight camp, and arrived at probably one of the most beautiful views in the Kruger – the Sabie Gorge.


Lebombo Eco Trail Gallery

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Route Guide

The Lebombo Eco Trail is a self-drive 4×4 route that passes through about 525 kilometres of the Kruger Park. The trail takes five days (four nights) to complete, and is led by an experienced South African National Parks Guide.

 

When to go

The trail runs in the dry season from 1 April to the last Sunday in October which is roughly when the rainy season starts. The tour starts from Crocodile Bridge at 09:00 every Sunday and ends at Pafuri around 12:00 noon on a Thursday.

Trail Requirements

The Lebombo Eco-Trail is entirely self-catered and participants are required to travel in their own 4×4 vehicles. According to park rules, all vehicles need to be fitted with a GPS device.

However, vehicles are not required to be hardcore off-roading machines. The route has been designed for those who want to enjoy a scenic self-drive, and not for those who are looking to challenge their vehicles.

Restrictions

In order to limit the environmental impact, only five vehicles and the guide’s vehicle are permitted on the trail at any one time. No more than four people per vehicle may join the tour. Participants must be between the ages of 12-65. Visit www.krugerpark.co.za to enquire about pricing and available dates.

What to Pack

– Tent and sleeping bags

– Camping beds

– Camping tables and chairs

– Sufficient firewood or gas for cooking

– Cool box or mini-refrigerator

– At least five litres of drinking water per person per day

– Enough food for three decent meals a day

– Crockery and cutlery

– Torches or gas lamps

– Wash basin and stand

– Cell-phone

– Well-equipped tool box

– Basic first-aid kit

– Fire extinguisher

– Camera and binoculars

– Chargers for camera and cell-phone

– Gas cooker and cooking equipment

– Plastic garbage bags (which will be disposed of at one of the camps)