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Kruger National Park

Mphongolo Backpacking Trail

The Mphongolo Trail is a primitive Backpacking Trail starts from Shingwedzi Camp and is conducted in the large wilderness area between the Shingwedzi and Mphongolo rivers.

The trail stretches over 4 days and three nights, with departures every Wednesday and Sunday between 1 February and 30 November. This trail allows its participants to spend three nights in this wilderness area without having the constraints of having to get to the next point or of following a prescribed route. The trail allows the trail leader to decide when & where to camp and how far & which route to follow. Hikers can leave their cars at Shingwedzi Camp in the designated parking area.

  • The activity will be conducted by two experienced Trails Rangers and the maximum number of participants will be kept to eight people per trail with a minimum of 4 people.
  • Guests are expected to provide their own camping equipment and food for the duration of the trail. There are no overnight huts on this trail.
  • As the safety of hikers is of major importance, all participants have to bring tents and sleep in them every night while they are walking the trail.
  • Participants will be responsible for setting up their own tents and for cooking their own food.
  • No rubbish bins or toilets are provided at any of the overnight stops and the trail operates on a strictly “take it in, take it out” basis and strictly adheres to a “no trace camping” ethic. Please only use biodegradable products – soaps and detergents – on the trail.
  • The group will meet at Shingwedzi camp at 11:00 on the day of departure in order to leave the camp by 12:00. They will then be transported, using an open vehicle with a trailer, and dropped off at a predetermined drop off point (according to a rotational usage schedule).
  • The group will then be collected at a predetermined collection point at 10:00 on the last day and transported back to Shingwedzi Camp. This ensures that walking can be done in any direction from the drop off point allowing the trails ranger to decide at random where to camp and how far to walk. The trails ranger will be able to plan a circular or direct route to the pre arranged collection point and will also be able to decide whether to spend more than one night at a particular camp site or not. This will allow the group the opportunity to walk at a slower pace and to leave their back packs at the camp and they then don’t have to lug heavy packs around and can enjoy more of the wilderness.

Bookings

Bookings can be made through Bridget Bagley email: bridgetb@sanparks.org or Tel: +27 (0)12 426-5117 or alternatively Hesther Van Den Berg hestherv@sanparks.org at the same number as of 1 November 2009 although the first trail will only depart on 1 April 2010.

***Fact Sheet (Includes Tariffs)***

What should I bring?

Equipment and enough food for the duration of the trail are the hiker’s responsibility. It is strongly advised that hikers do not carry more than a quarter of their body weight. As hikers in general tend to overstock, there will be a gear check where you will be weighed with and without your rucksack. Should you exceed the maximum weight, the guide may ask you to leave some items at Shingwedzi Camp.

***Remember what you take along ou have to carry - no glass items are allowed on the trail.***

Checklist

Essential Items

Optional Items

- Hiking rucksack
- Lightweight tent
- Lightweight sleeping bag
- Water bottles (2 x 1 litre bottles recommended)
- Cooking and eating utensils
- Small gas stove with spare gas (no cooking fires)
- Comfortable hiking shoes (well used to prevent blisters) and spare laces
- Sufficient clothing & socks, including swim wear and a warm jacket for the cold winter nights
- Food items (lightweight and remember you have to carry all your rubbish out)
- Hat, sun block and sunglasses
- Enviro-friendly toiletries and biodegradable detergent
- Matches or lighter
- Water purification tablets
- Toilet paper
- Plastic bags for refuse and in case of rain
- Insect repellent and malaria prophylaxis
- Own basic medical kit with personal medical requirements (blister kit, allergies)
- Torch with spare batteries (head light is recommended)

- Pencil and paper
- Camera and binoculars
- Isotonic drinks and glucose sweets
- Slip on shoes to wear at night
- Needle and thread
- Mattress pad


  • Fires are made at night but these are not to be used for cooking purposes and are only for social, aesthetic and safety reasons. Firewood will be used sparingly – definitely no “bonfires” will be allowed.
    Hikers are advised to bring gas stoves for cooking or preparing food. It is recommended to bring light weight and dehydrated food.
  • The trail follows no predetermined route.
  • Water will be collected from natural pools/ pans, seeps, boreholes, etc. However, it is necessary to use purification tablets (chlorine).
  • Meet your best friend for the duration of the trail! His name is “Ogre” and he is the auger that will make your body break a little easier. Your first toilet stop could be an uncomfortable experience, but Ogre will soon make it routine. Should you feel nature calling, locate Ogre from your fellow hikers who will take it in turns to carry him. The guide will help you secure a suitably safe place out of sight from the rest of the group and sufficiently distant from any water sources to prevent contamination. Use Ogre to drill a hole and take careful aim. When done, remember to burn the toilet paper inside the hole before you fill it with soil.

About your Safety

  • The Mphongolo Back Pack Trail is unique in the Kruger National Park in that it requires participants to walk for 4 consecutive days carrying heavy packs each day over distances or to do shorter hikes from your camp with just water and lunch.
  • To attempt this physically demanding hike you will have to be reasonably fit.
  • All hikers will receive a comprehensive safety briefing before the trail commences. The trail leader is a qualified and armed Trails Ranger assisted by a second armed assistant trails ranger, for additional peace of mind. The group will carry first aid equipment, but will not dispense any medicine. It is strongly advised that hikers take along their own supplies of general and / or prescription medication.
  • There is no cell phone reception and the trails rangers will only establish communication in medical emergencies. In such instances, hikers will be evacuated from the trail to medical care according to a pre-established medical emergency plan.
  • Before the start of the trail, hikers will be required to sign an indemnity form. It should be noted that this trail is undertaken at the hiker’s own risk and SANParks will not accept any liability in case of accidents or injuries.