Most Inspirational Moment
It was inspirational to be in Kruger National Park for a few days and to see the great variety of wildlife. I'm thankful that there remain a few places on earth that have this rich ecosystem. A three hour walk just after dawn was especially exciting - being aware that large animals were around us and that we were walking through their natural habitat, their world
Thoughts on Group Leader
The group leader, Rowan Moon, was excellent and I rate him highly. His enthusiasm and energy was infectious. He is natural leader and developed a close relationship with us as a group and as individuals. Organisation and time-keeping was excellent. He has developed a very good working relationship with Sofiso, the driver, and I felt safe and well-cared for at all times. He has remarkable wildlife-spotting skills and was able to detect the presence of animals (including many species of birds) and identify them accurately and instantly. He also has very good hiking skills and was confident at route-finding and care of people who struggled on more challenging parts of the mountain trails.
The driver, Sofiso, was superb: very safe driving at all times on some challenging road surfaces, very well organised for luggage and food preparation and hard working & reliable in all ways. He is also friendly and good company.
Betz, a trainee guide, worked hard assisting with food prepapration. A few times she gave information when we were touring in the minibus but I found it really hard to understand her because she has a very strong South African accent. This would have been a big concern for me if she had been our group leader.
Advice for Potential Travellers
My advice for travellers buying this holiday is to ensure that they are as fit as possible for the days of walking. And to be aware that while the trails are not over-long, nor are the altitude climbs significant (about 700m maximum), the routes are very rugged at times, there are parts when there are steep or near vertical sections on or near the route, there are a few quite tricky river crossings and there are very challenging metal ladders on the last two days (see my comments below). The guide Rowan, and the driver Sofiso, gave excellent support on these walks.
I would definitely say that there is a walking activity grading problem for this holiday. The walking grade 'Moderate' says 'general underfoot conditions will be fair'. However, on all the days there were sections of the trail which were more demanding than 'fair' - the Blyde River canyon to some extent, but especially the Tugela Gorge hike, the Witsiehoek 'Crack' hike and the Sentinel Peak hike to the ladders. These three days, if fully completed, including ascent (and descent - you have to come back down the same way) of the frankly hair-raising 20 metre ladder up to the Tugela Falls viewpoint, would clearly fit into a Challenging category in my opinion. So, the length of the walks are Moderate (about 2 to 5 hours max) but the trails are rugged and challenging at times. Should the holiday be given a Moderate/Challenging rating? Or the last 2 days only could be given Challenging. Please note that Day 13 description should make clear that the Crack is demanding for those with vertigo and has a 7 metre ladder which is in quite poor condition. My wife was made aware of the ladder just the evening before and had to miss the day's walking for this reason.
Our guides, Rowan Moon and the local guides hired were superb at all times helping us with these routes.