Limpopo National Park, Mozambique: September 2007

Circles in the Bush

(With apologies to Dalene Matthee…)

Machampane Wilderness Camp shares the western bank of the Machampane River with tall fever trees at a pool called Xisivene – which apparently means “deep pool”.

The wilderness trail experience that runs out of the camp is similarly structured to the iconic trails that operate in the Kruger National Park across the border. Machampane’s accommodation is a tad more luxurious though – large walk-in tents on stilts with en suite bathrooms.

or download the Google Earth track of Machampane wilderness trails.

As in Kruger, a day typically starts with tea or coffee at the crack of dawn, followed by a 3 to 5 hour wilderness walk in the surrounding bush. Upon your return to camp, tuck into a wholesome brunch, and then spend the rest of the afternoon relaxing on your tent’s deck watching the Pied Kingfisher launch numerous dive attacks on the fish in Xisivene, or read, or snooze…

After tea, set out on another 3-hour walk and return to a warm shower and good company around the “bush TV” – the fire pit – followed by dinner. By the second day you will have succumbed to the rhythm of the bush and forgotten about civilisation. The fact that Machampane is remote and there are no telephones nor internet simply helps the process.

The wilderness walks radiate out from the camp in large circles (see the tracks on Google Earth). There’s a fair amount of water around Machampane and the surrounding country varies from mopane woodland on Lebombo rhyolite to sandveld which supports taller mopane.

The trail is about reconnecting with nature, observing and existing within the web of life. As I have often written, wilderness trails are not about viewing big game. Having said that though, we did see elephant, lion, civet, honeybadger, lots of impala, zebra, wildebeest, spotted hyena, crocodiles and the area’s solitary hippo – Bob – while on foot.

The Machampane concession comprises a large wilderness area that borders Kruger Park to the west and extends down to Lake Massangir on the Olifants River. A fence still separates Limpopo, which was until fairly recently a hunting concession, and Kruger and over the last few years relocated wildlife have been released into a sanctuary area here, the fences of which are still visible south of the camp. Near the lake, but within the park, local Shangaan eke out a subsistence living on the land. Apparently the people will be relocated at some future stage.