Year in the Wild Blog

Massive baobabs and elephant charge in Nyalaland Wilderness Area

The north of Kruger continues to cast its spell on me. I spent a day with trails rangers Christopher Mutathi and David Nemukula, who lead the Nyalaland Wilderness Trail in the northwestern wilderness area of Kruger. They wanted to show me this region, as they had a day off from their trails, and wanted to check up on the small camp where trailists spend their nights.

I definitely want to come back here sometime to do the Nyalaland Wilderness Trail. It’s in a very remote part of the park, where massive baobabs dominate the skyline, and the hilly terrain is carved through by the beautiful, flowing Luvuvhu River, where bird life is unrivalled in the park, with more species than elsewhere.

When we arrived at trails camp, we had obviously just missed an intruder – a bull elephant – because there were tracks all around. Christopher told me elephants simply push the low fence over, and how lions sometimes walk into camp when the gate is left open, and end up snoozing underneath the four A-frame thatched huts!

On our way back to Punda Maria, we were charged by an elephant cow – Christopher and David banged on the side of the Land Cruiser’s doors, shouting at the elephant to get her to stop, which she eventually did! Heart-pounding stuff!

Christopher told me that the elephants in the north of Kruger are more temperamental and less trusting of humans, because of the hunting in Zimbabwe and the poaching in Mozambique. And because there are no fences between the countries, and animals are free to wander over borders, they are exposed to a variety of different people…not all of them tourists!

Trails rangers Christopher Muthathi and David Nemukula at the Levuvhu River


On the Levuvhu River...beautiful! Despite the north being the most arid area of Kruger, receiving around 400mm of highly variable rainfall annually, the Levuvuhu River is almost always a constant source of water.


Monkey rope around Jackal berry tree - northern Kruger is famous for its huge trees


Like this massive baobab! Which is actually one of the smaller ones in the region!


Elephant charge! We were in our vehicle when this cow came charging...Christopher told me that Mozambican poachers and Zimbabwe hunters are to blame for the aggressive attitudes of elephants in the north of Kruger. Because there are no fences, animals are free to wander across the open borders, and come into contact with hunters and poachers.





Christopher Muthathi and the biggest baobab in the Nyalaland Wilderness Area




The A-frame cottages at the Nyalaland Wilderness Camp


David Nemukula and a young baobab, in the Nyalaland Wilderness Camp!


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  • Christopher is a legend! He was our guide on the Nyalaland Wilderness Trail and his knowledge of the plant, bird and animal life is astounding. He makes the bush come alive by explaining the uses of various plants. A walk with Christopher is a memory to treasure.

    • We just got back from this trip…looking at your pictures makes me want to be back there again and again. We had the same guides – absolutely amazing and fantastic. I ws awed by their knowledge and experience, and the way they called the birds, and could spot things I could never have seen. Really one of the best experiences ever, and recommended to everyone. A treasure of a memory.

  • Pingback: YITW 2013-14 – Charging elephants in Kruger – An artist’s interpretation | Year in the Wild

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