Over the trail, we managed six walks, all of which were jam-packed full of birds, stunning sunsets and a very decent helping of wildlife. Here are just a few of the highlights.
Our first walk was a short one at a place called Rhino Boma during which one of the eagle-eyed guests spotted four elephant bulls to the east of us. We made an approach and had a good sighting. However the elephant were heading into thick bush and the light was not on our side so we left them to their evening meal.
The drive back to camp was the highlight of the day – first of all we parked amongst a large herd of buffalo that were crossing Pafuri Main. With the engine and lights switched off we sat there listening to their various noises as they milled around us.
As we made our final approach to camp, one of the guests said that he'd thought he'd seen a hyaena turn off the road ahead of us. It had indeed turned off and was walking down the short access track to camp. But it wasn't a hyaena, it was a big male leopard! He was walking boldly along the sand road scent-marking as he went.
Lying in bed later there was still so much going on under the almost-full moon. The elephant were shouting, the impala rut was at full tilt, the baboons and vervets were going mad as the big male leopard wandered through his territory. The zebra and hyaena were not to be outdone and there was the usual symphony of crickets acting as the backing track to another wonderful night in Africa.
The next morning we walked Nwambi Pan where we were able approach an elephant bull to about 30 metres. He was very relaxed, but despite working our way round to get a side-on view he soon managed to present his backside yet again to give us the famous Africa salute.
That afternoon we parked up at the (very) Big Baobab and walked the various pans before having our sundowners on the river bank. Whilst you don't actually see the sun going down here it's a great spot for a drink. Looking out over the mighty Limpopo River and Zimbabwe beyond is quite breathtaking.
No leopard tonight but we did have a nice "black-out" moment with three elephant bulls. When we saw them we stopped, turning off the engine, radio and lights to encourage them to approach. They came close but before they committed to coming all the way one of them upped periscope and sniffed in our direction. His response was a big head shake accompanied by slapping ears in disdain of our odour. All three then marched off into the night from where they'd come.
As we drove out along Pafuri Main for our final evening walk one of the guests suddenly shouted, "Stop, there's a leopard in the baobab!" We wasted no time in backing up and there it was, as bold as you like, lying in the afternoon sun draped along a branch as if it were posing for a photo shoot. This obviously changed our plans for the afternoon, we were no longer going for a walk down by the Limpopo. Instead we decided to get a better view on foot, approaching behind the adjacent baobab, just 50 metres from the leopard. Here we could see him clearly but it wasn't long before he raised his head and saw us.
Up until this point I hadn't realised how big he was. He suddenly jumped up onto his feet, ran along a limb of the giant baobab and launched himself spread-eagled out of the tree.
After all the excitement of the day we now needed a break so we carried on to Reedbuck Vlei for sundowners. This wasn't the end of the game viewing as we had genet, buffalo, elephant, hyaena and a white-backed night heron to round the day off in fitting style.
For a gallery of more extraordinary photos from this Trail, click here.
Pafuri Walking Trail Update by James Bailey
All photos courtesy Alessandro Bonora