Hi everyone! I realize we have been very quiet for the past few weeks. But for good reasons! (A huge thank you to the people that reached out to us asking if we are ok… ) We are great! We have just been extremely busy. Steven was called back to work and apart from making sure that the animals around the Bushmans and Wolhuter Trailscamps had water, a lot of time and effort was put in to sprucing up Stevens camp. Introducing Wolhuter 2.0!!
I absolutely adore Wolhuter Trailscamp. ( Read: A weekend at Wolhuter Trailscamp Part 1 and Part 2) It is the oldest trailscamp in the park. And it was built in 1978, commemorating Harry Wolhuter the first Game Ranger of The Sabie Game reserve that later became our beloved Kruger National Park. They patrolled on horseback back then and during one of those patrols, harry’s horse was attacked by lions. In the attack, harry was thrown from his horse and landed on top of a male lion that subsequently attacked him. He killed the lion with his knife. The full story is available in Harry’s book: Memories of a Game Ranger.
Steven’s camp was looking a bit, let me say tired, even before the lockdown started. And 5 months of no people staying over certainly did not do it any good.
The fence was basically non-existent after our elephant friends stepped on it in more places than I can count, a family of warthogs and a duiker had moved into the relative safety (I say relative for a reason, please read on) of the camp and some of the boma style fencing had fallen over.
Now you can hopefully understand that there are major budget constraints in place because of the lockdown. But with the limited means available, and weeks of love and elbow grease, Steven, Nicol and Ob from Bushmans, did an amazing job transforming Wolhuter and making it ready to receive the first guests in 5 months this coming Wednesday.
Let me show you around!
Before we went to the camp, we first had to deliver some water to the Loyal Patrons at the Matjulu waterhole. Alex and Jack know the routine so well by now. ‘Hoeveel keer gaan ons die diere water gee mama?’ ‘How many times are we going to give water to the animals, mama?’ We wanted to do three runs of 1000 litres each. A small herd of Zebra’s and two old buffalo bulls were very grateful for the effort.
The crib at Bushmans was completely dry. Two elephants were standing at the crib, waiting for the water to arrive. I am sure that the sound of the starting Lyster Engine was music to their ears! One of the bulls came to check where that sound was coming from. Probably hoping the water would show up right there. He tilted his head left and right a few times. Intently listening until the smell of water flowing into the crib made him rush back to the place where they had been waiting for the juice of life to arrive.
Steven set a timer. We would have to be back there in 4 hours to switch the engine off.
Back at Wolhuter 2.0, we started a lekker fire. While the boys enjoyed the sand all around, I put the sleeping bags in the huts. On my way to hut no 2, I spotted some big elephant tracks in the sand. ‘Babe, didn’t you guys fix the fence last week?’ I asked my husband. Interestingly enough, we found elephant tracks all over, but no place where the fence was flattened. This curious ellie probably carefully stepped over the fence somewhere, had a look at the new and improved camp and left again without damaging the fence. Very considerate Mr Elephant! Thank you!
On our patrol of the fence, steven discovered some greyish tawny tufts of fur in the far corner of the camp. Unfortunately Stevens camp was not a safe place for the poor duiker after all.
In the last light of the day, the four of us settled around the campfire. I looked at our two boys. The orange glow of the flames lighting up their faces. Then I looked at steven, who was braaiing some bacon cherry sticks and pork rashers for us. The past 5 months in lockdown has been hectic, but we have made some great memories as a family.
Halfway between the two camps, we found two young hyenas sleeping in the road. The sound of the Landcruiser and the headlights rudely awakening them from their sleep. The poor youngsters got such a fright that they bolted. But not into the bush, but down the road like a bat out of hell. One of them found a game path he could escape off the road to but the other one just kept running on the road. We could see him a hundred metres or so in front of us. We gave him so much space but the poor hyena was in full flight mode. I felt bad for him but it was quite comical to watch too.
Eventually, he made his way off the road. Funnily enough, we could hear a hyena calling in the distance when steven had switched the Lister off. It almost sounded like a ‘woohoo, where are youhoo?’ from the run-way hyena to find his sibling.
In the moonlight, we could see that the elephants had had so much fun at the crib. It was wet and muddy all around. Such a gratifying thing to do, giving water to the animals in these dry months!
On the way back little jack was sitting in the front next to his dad. Out of nowhere, he started singing ‘twinkle twinkle little star’… so incredibly cute. Both boys really enjoy the outdoors and the wild animals they grow up seeing every day.
Back in camp, we roasted a few marshmallows. Lions started roaring in the distance and that inspired me to tell a few ‘scary’ made-up campfire stories. Alex and Jack loved the way I looked with a torch shining under my chin and they copied the spooky vibe with their own little torches.
It was a perfect family night spent in stevens camp! And as much as I am very happy things appear to be getting to somewhat ‘ new’ normal, I am also grateful we could experience stevens Wolhuter 2.0 camp together before the arrival of the first tourists on Wednesday!
If you would like to experience one of Kruger’s Wilderness Trails, have a look at the SANParks website for availability and bookings.