In August I laughed at my brother-in-law when he realised he would be in the middle of Kruger, without comms, for the World Cup final. Then I accepted a booking to walk Pafuri over the same weekend. When I realised, I had a moment of regret, thinking what if the Boks make the final? I thought of a few places we could camp out that night that might have enough signal to watch it on the DSTV App, but those thoughts faded and I accepted that I would not be sitting in front of a screen come 9 pm of October 28. Instead I would be camping on a big sandstone outcrop overlooking a spring in the Pafuri area of Kruger. The moon would be full, and the chances of animals visiting the spring that night were very high after a hot day.
First we bathed ourselves being careful not to rinse off in the actual water. Then as the sun dupped down, the moon rose casting long shadows from the large trees and hills surrounding the spring. The night sounds took over the day sounds and we found ourselves overlooking a magical, almost enchanted landscape. In the back of all our minds was the big game of rugby, we were all fans and had spoken a little about it in the days leading up to this final night on the trail. But it had not dominated our thoughts and conversations, instead our surroundings of landscape and animals and taken up our thoughts and focus, as they should when moving through such areas on foot.
The first mention of the game was at 8.45 pm “15 minutes to go, I wonder how they are all feeling?” I said. With some deep breaths, the five of us could feel the tension, but we had a moon-lit landscape to distract ourselves. “I wonder when our show is going to start?” we wondered what the first animals to come down for water would be, and at 8.55 pm is started. Two elephant bulls, at first we heard then approaching. They were cautious, smelling the air and then the ground where we had sat, collected water, and bathed ourselves earlier. They were aware we had been there, but not of our presence on the rock. Stepping into the water they spent the next hour drinking, filling their trunks with clean crisp water from the shallow spring then pouring it down their throats, we could hear their trunks empty each time. Binoculars are fantastic tools in such light and we watched our spectacle, with thoughts darting back to what was happening thousands of kilometres in Paris. The air was rich with energy, and a herd of buffalo then arrived. Things felt like they were falling into place and I thought “If this energy I’m experiencing in one of the most northern parts of RSA is the same for the Boks, then maybe some magic was happening”. But we didn’t want to get carried away with that thought, but there was hope.
Absorbed, time went quite quickly, and half-time came quickly. We shifted our position higher on the rock to get a better view of the buffalo which were coming and going by now, in the distance a leopard rasped. The moon was so bright we avoided looking directly, but when we eventually did an unexpected eclipse was obvious. If the stars were not lining up, the sun, moon, and earth certainly were.
Time then seemed to slow down. We knew the end of the game was close, but we had no idea whether we were still in the game… So many little things had happened on our rock since the game had started, but the strangest was about to start…. Very distant drumming carrying on the wind from the direction of Zimbabwe (North). “Was this a sign, were the people drumming away in support of our Boks, or was this just the energy of the day, the night, the moon and sun?
At 10.55 pm I couldn’t resist and called Lauren (my wife) on the Sat Phone. It rang with no answer, the game was still underway and no answer meant it might be tight. I called again 10 minutes later and she answered, I didn’t need to be told who had won, I could hear the energy and vibe in the background. We jumped up and down on the big rock, giving high fives and fist pumps. We didn’t speak much about the game throughout the evening. Still, we all sensed that some of our thoughts and minds kept darting away from the incredible natural spectacle going on in front of us to the incredible spectacle that was going down in Paris.
So we didn’t get to watch the game, but we felt it, and the stars (or sun) were on our side that evening.
From this amazing experience, we are making Full Moon Pafuri trails a thing!
By picking high vantage points over water on full moon nights viewing game from the camp is a special experience. We moving quickly on this and you can sign up for the next full moon trail from 25-28 November.