Around me the colours started to blur and melt; I was left seeing nothing but him. His movements were strong and slow – it became impossible to draw my eyes away. As if for the first time, a warm and powerful beat started up in my chest, till the blood burned through every inch of my body.
He moved so close to us that I was sure I felt the ground shake when he saw us and turned to run.
I drew in a deep breath and with it the bushveld sounds and colours rushed back. We stood savoring the moment for a while before falling back into single file behind the ranger, passing the tracks of the elephant bull that had just been within a few metres from us.
Back at the Outpost I sat still for a long time, looking out over the Luvuvhu River. I felt quiet to my core.
That river valley has a tangible magic. At night I was woken by the sounds of hyena and leopard, by day I was drawn to the salient baobab trees that have stood guard there for thousands of years.
We spent a few memorable moments at the base of one particular baobab. On one side the tree formed a natural cave and as we walked up to touch the centuries-old trunk, we noticed hundreds of small butterflies, almost completely blended into the bark. We stepped in to take a closer look and they took flight; like windswept leaves they whirled around us and we stood smiling in the shelter of the baobab tree.
It is impossible to overstate the richness encountered on foot.
How else will you get to run your hand across the fever tree’s green bark, to see its dust on your fingertips? Or brush up against the plants to send bush scents and butterflies into the air? From the vehicle you will never see the lines that the belly of the monitor lizard draws into the soil. You will not be as alert as you are when you are walking freely in the bush.
I was already back in the outskirts of Johannesburg when I realized that, between the corrugated shacks and industrial buildings, my eyes were still scanning for wildlife in the bush.
A few notes from a safari guide on the Outpost:
The Pafuri area accounts for only 1% of Kruger’s land mass but contains 75% of the park’s biodiversity, so from a walking trails point of view, it is hard to beat.
The area has a rich anthropological history with rock paintings, pottery chards, walls and engravings that date back 20 000 years.
This is one of the most scenically spectacular places in South Africa. The valleys and hills are dotted with baobabs and magnificent fever tree forests.
This is not a place for the ticker or big-fiver, this is a spiritual place where things should be taken slowly.
We walked our entire three days here, and highly recommend this option.
The Outpost rooms have some of the most beautiful views imaginable.
The area boasts some of the best bird watching in the country, teeming with specials like Pel’s fishing owl, racket-tailed rollers and Bohm’s spinetails, but if you’re coming for birds make sure you visit in the summer.
Summer time temperatures can get very high: if you battle with heat visit during the cooler months.
The view point at Lanner Gorge is breath-taking and is a must see.