Gait Expectations

Two Klaserie camps offer different but complementary experiences

 

Most game lodges offer morning and evening game drives, but several are now starting to realise that trailwalks can offer guests a whole new perspective on time in the bush. Africa On Foot, a lodge in the Klaserie Private Nature Reserve, is specifically designed to meet the needs of guests who want to walk in a Big 5 area.

The accommodation at the camp, although looking basic from the exterior, is anything but once the door is opened. The huge, comfortable bed beckons almost immediately, but I resist the urge to have a nap and wander around the camp instead. Hidden behind the succulents and the water-wise plants are the main buildings that comprise a dining room, lounge and bar. The lounge area is extremely comfortable and decorated in such a way that you can have a private conversation or you can be a part of a group. This is also the meeting point for those who want to experience Africa on foot, literally, with an early morning walk.

The walks, seeing that they are conducted in a Big 5 reserve, are under the guidance of qualified guides who know the area and can keep the guests safe and informed while experiencing the bush from a different perspective. The walk is around a dam that’s not too far from camp. With no hippos or crocs in sight, it is a great place to take a moment to enjoy the sunrise and prepare for the adventure ahead. Safety is a top priority and there is a thorough briefing before we set off. The guide’s rifle is checked and loaded, and backpacks and water bottles are filled before moving off. The rifle is there as a last resort, given that the walks are conducted in dangerous game territory.

Silence and single file are watchwords, although if there was explaining to be done, talking is allowed, but in hushed tones. Walk in single file and keep your eyes and ears open. These walks are not about time or distance covered, but more about having an immersive experience that sparks all the senses. “Can you identify this poop?” Receiving this sort of question is part of what the walks are designed to teach. This includes identifying phenomena that might be missed when on a game viewer and merely driving past a rhino midden.

With grazers and browsers, scat can be safely handled, felt and dissected, seeing that they eat and digest only vegetation. You certainly do not want to be handling any predator scat as that can contain harmful bacteria. On my final night, I did get to enjoy a game drive that produced a lion pride with several cubs that decided that playing in the vehicle’s headlights – a new game to be enjoyed.

Branching out

The following morning it was time to move a few kilometres down the road to nThambo Tree Camp. Given the name of the camp, I was surprised to find that my accommodation was not some kind of tree house. However, the interior of the accommodation offers everything that the discerning safari-goer needs or wants in a camp of this quality. And it is partly because of this attention to detail that the camp gets a lot of return international guests. For most of the day, the vast open plains in front of the lodge allow guests the opportunity to watch a plethora of plains game species, including a jackal or two, and in the evening, with elephants making their appearance under cover of darkness.

The Lowveld sun is warm during the day and guests take the opportunity to occupy the poolside loungers and enjoy the passing animal parade. I enjoy chatting to guests and, as a result, I have discovered that there is always at least one representative of the medical fraternity and the most unique ‘profession’ represented here is a family from the USA that runs a funeral home. Late on an evening drive, we find a pair of lions dozing in the dying sunlight. I am informed that they enjoy sleeping under the house of the owner of the camp, which was relatively close by. Their vocalisation at 2am is enough to cause my accommodation the vibrate, so much so that I wonder if they are under my unit! It turns out that is not the case…

The lounge/bar/reception area is the heart of the camp and offers an uninterrupted view out over the plains and the waterhole, making it the ideal spot for guests to relax and enjoy the game viewing opportunities, offered as ‘sofa sightings’. A fire is lit every night we are in camp, part of the ambience of being in the bush and adding to the overall experience. Fire is not referred to as ‘bush TV’ for no reason. Watching the flames as they leap and dance is hypnotic and can be very conducive to sleep… especially after a busy day.

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