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What to look out for on a walking safari

WRITTEN BY

Geoff Haslam

LAST UPDATED

September 15, 2021

So what sort of things are we looking for when on a walking safari? At Simbavati Trails camp, or any bush walk for that matter. Since we are part of the Timbavati Game Reserve, which is part of the Greater Kruger area, we do have free-roaming game including the Big 5. But, when we are out walking in the bush, they are not our primary focus.

Our main aim at Simbavati Trails Camp is to concentrate on everything you miss while being on a vehicle. Feeding signs of animals, the smell of wild herbs, the touch of grass or the taste of wild fruit. And of course to have the ability to hear everything without having a diesel engine making a noise.

As trails guides, we love teaching people about the smaller things, the tracks and the uses for trees and wild herbs. We have a mix between riverine and mopane thicket with little crests that have open clearings. One of the most amazing things about Trails Camp is the very little light interference from other camps so things like sunrise and sunsets are some of the best when visiting Trails. Staying at a walking camp like ours not means a little exercise. It also provides the chance to rest the mind and take it back to basics. To how man used to be and how we still are to this day. If only we can let go of distracting pings and devices!

Tracks and Signs and the meaning behind them

Because Trails is located in a remote part of the reserve where we are the only active presence on a full time basis, the tracks we find are always amazing. The ability to tell guests about them. And to make them a part of a story that is written in the ground is always fun. Plus it gives the guests a deeper understanding of animal behaviour. And a deeper understanding of what trail guides look for whilst walking through this incredible bush. 

We wake up knowing that, even if the bush was quiet, or it was windy, the tracks that we find will always have a story to tell. This is why we normally refer to roads and elephant pathways as our local newspaper. All we have to do is lend our voice to interpret what the bush has to say. The ability to trail the animal and predict the movement all comes from reading the tracks. And thinking like the animal. Thinking about what the animal might need or want will not only give you a greater understanding of your surroundings and animal behaviour. But you could end up catching a glimpse of the animal itself.

Birds to look out for on a walking safari

Timbavati hosts an incredible amount of bird life. We can expect to see over 350 different bird species, depending whether it’s a good rainy season or not. Birds return after winter from all over the world. Such as European Bee eaters that migrate to Europe during our winter. Or the woodlands kingfisher who migrate north of the equator. Or even the Amur Falcon, returning from the UAE.

We are very fortunate to see these birds, but we also get amazing rare birds on the odd occasion. Such as the painted snipe or the golden pipit or even the African Skimmer. Plus we are always on the lookout for new species as well. Birds that might have been pushed off course because of wind. Or they may just been exploring. We won’t be surprised to spot rare birds like Western Osprey or Pel’s fishing Owl. Because the Timbavati has the environment they like. We just need to be lucky enough to spot them. It’s always right place; right time

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