Walking Kruger

Kruger's seven wilderness trails can accommodate eight hikers each on three-day, two-night hikes. Led by an armed ranger and local tracker, you walk in the mornings and evenings, with an afternoon siesta, approximately 19 km (12 miles) a day.

These trails encourage a sense of companionship among the group, which decides together on speed and length of walks, but this isn't about pushing endurance records. Many hikers can recount face-to-face encounters with everything from rhinos to lions. No one under 12 is allowed; those over 60 must have a doctor's certificate. Hikers sleep in rustic two-bed huts and share a bathroom (flush toilets, bucket showers). Meals are simple (stews and barbecues); you bring your own drinks. Summer is uncomfortably hot (and trails are cheaper), but nights can be freezing in winter—bring warm clothes and an extra blanket. Reserve 13 months ahead. The cost is about R4,000 per person per trail.

Bushman Trail. In the southwestern corner of the park, this trail takes its name from the San rock paintings and sites found here; the camp is in a secluded valley. Watch for white rhinos, elephants, and buffalo. Check in at Berg-en-Dal.

Metsi Metsi Trail. The permanent water of the nearby N'waswitsontso River makes this one of the best trails for winter game-viewing. Midway between Skukuza and Satara, the trail camp is in the lee of a mountain in an area of gorges, cliffs, and rolling savanna. Check in at Skukuza.

Napi Trail. White rhino sightings are common on this trail, which runs through mixed bushveld between Pretoriuskop and Skukuza. Other possibilities are black rhinos, cheetahs, leopards, elephants, and, if you're lucky, nomadic wild dogs. The camp is tucked into dense riverine forest at the confluence of the Napi and Biyamiti rivers. Check in at Pretoriuskop.

Nyalaland Trail. In the far north, this trail camp sits among ancient baobab trees near the Luvuvhu River and has the best birding in the park. Walk at the foot of huge rocky gorges and in dense forest. Hippos, crocs, elephants, buffalo, and the nyala antelope are almost a sure thing. Check in at Punda Maria.

Olifants Trail. This spectacularly sited camp sits on a high bluff overlooking the Olifants River and affords regular sightings of elephants, lions, buffalo, and hippos. The landscape varies from riverine forest to the rocky foothills of the Lebombo Mountains. Check in at Letaba.

Sweni Trail. East of Satara, this trail camp overlooks the Sweni Spruit and savanna. The area attracts large herds of zebras, wildebeests, and buffalo with their attendant predators: lions, spotted hyenas, and wild dogs. Check in at Satara.

Wolhuter Trail. You just might come face-to-face with a white rhino on this trail through undulating bushveld, interspersed with rocky kopjes, midway between Berg-en-Dal and Pretoriuskop. Elephants, buffalo, and lions are also likely. Check in at Berg-en-Dal.

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