Explore the White Umfolozi River valley from a rustic seasonal trails camp.
- Trip Outline
- Trip Includes
- Trip Excludes
The southern half of iMfolozi is a designated wilderness that can only be accessed on foot; this area is the spiritual home of wilderness trails in South Africa, offering walkers the opportunity to immerse themselves in overnight trails in a pristine environment.
Wilderness Trails are operated in iMfolozi by Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife and walkers are based at tented fly camps, with supplies transported to the camp by donkey. Each walk season, a new fly camp is established, always close to the river. Participants stay in the camp for the duration of the trail, which is run over two or three nights. The camp has two-person dome tents furnished with mattresses and pillows. There are no chairs or tables, but camp cushions are provided, which are quite comfortable when propped against a log. Water is sourced from the river and transported to the camp by donkey. It is filtered for drinking and cooking, and heated over a campfire so that hikers can take a warm shower. For toilet needs, a short shovel is provided, and instructions are given about where to go.
There are two wilderness trail options, the only difference being their duration – two nights for the Short Wilderness Trail and three nights for the Extended Short Wilderness Trail. The same fly camp is used for both trail options, with the Short Trail starting on Fridays and Sundays and the Extended Short Trail starting on Tuesdays. Both trails run from mid-February to early December.
For more camp comforts, the Base Camp Trail is a good alternative, and participants stay at Mndindini Trails Camp with beds, dining tables and benches, showers and flush toilets.
It is recommended that participants stay at Mpila Resort the night before the trail begins so that overnight gear can be handed over to be ported by donkey. The donkeys leave early on the starting day, and if hikers don’t overnight at Mpila they need to carry their kit on the first day of walking. Either way, it’s wise to keep your pack light and take only the essentials needed at the camp – wash kit, camp towel, a change of clothes.
Take a day pack for water, snacks and any personal items you may need while walking. On the first day of a trail, hikers meet the guides at reception in Mpila Resort by 11:00 for departure at 12:00. After a chat, they follow the ranger’s vehicle for seven kilometres to Mndindini Trails Camp in their own vehicles. The road, which is closed to other park visitors, is accessible to sedan cars. At the base camp there is secure parking and toilet facilities, and belongings not needed on the trail can be left in the car.
After a snack and a briefing, the walk starts. The fly camp supply donkeys will already have left from Mpila Resort, so hikers don’t walk with them. The distance walked on the first day varies, as the camp is at a different site each season, and because the guides may take a circuitous route to get there.
Trails are fully catered, with all meals prepared by a camp cook. Breakfast dishes typically include cereal, bacon and eggs. After breakfast, walkers collect their lunch packs which may contain sandwiches of cheese, salami and tomato, as well as fruit, crackers and biltong. A typical evening meal might be pap (mealie meal porridge) and stew or spaghetti bolognese with corn on the cob and a side salad, followed by tinned peaches and custard for dessert. Water filtered at the camp is made available in a canister for refilling personal water bottles.
On the second day walking begins early, and each guest takes a lunch bag and water in their day pack. The guides will decide on the trail route depending on conditions and hikers’ interests. There are some fine lookout points above the river, providing excellent opportunities for a long and leisurely lunch break and wildlife spotting. The group returns to camp in the early afternoon, picking up wood on the way back for the campfire. Water is heated in a cauldron over the fire, and hikers shower from a bucket rigged from a tree a discreet distance from the camp.
Early on the final day, the donkeys return to take away the guests’ bags and waste. Meanwhile the group walks back to Mndindini Trails Camp, to arrive by 10:30 at the latest.
- Tented accommodation
- Park conservation fees