09 October 2012 by Kate Turkington

On the African Ivory Route

Venture into untamed bush and discover true wilderness on the African Ivory Route. Oh, and there’s plenty of game and birds to see.

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If you’ve a spirit of adventure, a 4x4, and a week to spare, then like me, follow the legendary African Ivory Route.

Sundowner time at a bush camp on the African Ivory Route

Accompanied by 2 game rangers (who forgot to pack the 1st day’s picnic, but I had a bottle of whisky) we set off from Phalaborwa and headed north into the wilderness.

There’s plenty of game – not always easy to spot – hundreds of birds, and, best of all, hardly any people.

There’s plenty of game – not always easy to spot – hundreds of birds, and, best of all, hardly any people. Another bonus is that the rustic accommodation is not only beautifully sited over rivers and cliffs, but is much more affordable than many other bush camps.

Why is it called the African Ivory Route? Because when Africa was still largely uncharted, hunters and traders followed the great tuskers as they migrated on a horseshoe-shaped arc that stretched more than 1 000km eastwards from Orpen, north to the Limpopo River and west to the Waterberg.

Along its path is San rock art, the Makapan’s Caves, Mapungubwe (a World Heritage Site), dramatic scenery and wildlife.

Who goes there?

I stayed at provincial parks in self-catering bush camps (pity about the lack of food on the 1st day but the whisky helped) at the Manyaleti, Letaba Ranch and Makuya game reserves, which border Kruger National Park and cover thousands of hectares of pristine wilderness.

One night we sat by a blazing mopane wood fire at Mtomeni Camp as a pearl-spotted owl called and a European nightjar kept us company on a low branch. Lions roared somewhere in the distance. The next day I measured myself in front of a huge baobab tree.

The African Ivory Route is not for sissies – roads can be extremely rough and bumpy, but you’ll discover true wilderness and test your driving skills to the limit. If it's untamed wilderness that calls you, then this is it.

Measuring myself in front of a huge baobab tree

Category: Routes & Trails

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