Strolling around Kruger National Park seems somehow rather dangerous, but with the guides from Rhino Walking Safaris, I felt perfectly safe.
After a few days of safari bush walks, I found herself correctly identifying footprints and dung and smelling the animals before even catching sight of them, which on foot is usually at a safe distance. Read about my great bush experience.
Great Safari Combination
Rhino Walking Safaris have, in my opinion, got it right. They have three safari accommodation options ending with the ultimate walk and sleepout (on raised wooden platforms), but they break you into your African safari slowly. Rhino Walking Safaris suggest you start in Rhino Post Camp, which offers game drives and walks, fine food and great comfort.
Then a few nights at their traditional 'Out of Africa' luxury tented safari camp - Plains Camp, which brings out the 19th century explorer in you and initiates you into safari bush walking. Then you are ready to do a small backpack and head off for an overnight stay at Platforms safari camp.
Sleep in the trees
Platforms camp is like a giant multi-level wooden climbing frame amongst trees and foliage, with stairs leading from one level to another and wooden walkways directing you to individual sleeping platforms about eight metres above ground. On each of the four sleeping platforms is a large chest, which hides two decently thick folded mattresses, zip-out sleeping bags, sheets and comfortable pillows. They seem to have thought of everything, even torches and paraffin lanterns for an atmospheric night-time camping safari feel.
While you erect your tent-shaped flyscreen (and we put up the rain cover against the autumn morning dew), ingeniously suspended by poles and hooks, the safari rangers are preparing a braai (barbecue) on the wooden dining deck below. A fire is lit and typical South African braai (BBQ) food starts sizzling on the grate.
Boerewors - thick farm sausage and lamb chops are a prerequisite, usually accompanied by a large Greek salad, home-baked bread and perhaps some potatoes wrapped in foil and baked amongst the coals or vegetables similarly cooked. It's not fancy but it tastes great and is perfect for this safari camp setting. Wine and beer appear and everyone sits around the picnic table in a spirit of camaraderie, that you will not find in more formal surroundings.
Creatures of the African night
Noises of the African night seem louder and closer when there are no walls, but the hyenas cackling and lions grunting did not disturb my sleep more than once or twice. I was happy to be woken by such sounds, as it only added atmosphere to the unusual circumstances in which I found myself. Beautiful morning sunlight filtered through the African bush to reveal a fresh cool day. Leopard had passed by our little waterhole during the night and buck had drunk there. It is unlikely that the two met at this point or we would surely have heard something!
Tea and rusks, a South African speciality of dried bread and raisins to be dunked in tea or coffee, was followed by packing away the evidence of our visit. By 7am we had set off on the early morning game walk back to Plains Camp, and a hearty brunch on arrival 2½ hours later.
© Carrie Hampton 2004. This article is written by travel writer and safari specialist Carrie Hampton, who is under no obligation to state anything other than her personal opinion. This article may not be reproduced in any form without permission.
Feel free to contact Carrie on: firstname.lastname@example.org
Siyabona Africa organise itineraries that include a variety of Kruger Park experiences and accommodation, from traditional 'Rondavels' in Kruger Park rest camps, basic tented safari camps and/or luxury private safari lodges and camps like Rhino Walking Safari camps (see other Kruger Park accommodation reviews by Carrie Hampton). Siyabona Africa organised my trip, which went without a hitch.