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Home > Trail tales > 2006 > Nylsvley

Birder's paradise ...
Nylsvley, 16-18 June

Nylsvley (yes it really is spelt like that, a hangover from the olden days) was at one time a regular venue for the Johannesburg Hiking Club. Those in the know booked early and quickly and were assured of a place on a recent camp there, the latecomers regrettably did not get on. You know the moral of this story. It is true bushveld country, but with a difference, it has a world renown wetland running through it, bringing loads of interesting birds. Apart from that there are many animals of the type that donít want to eat you, and lovely trees for those whose interests lie in that direction. Plus plenty of walking, for any number of miles, either long or short hikes, a couple of hours or all day, whatever takes your fancy. A trail has been made through the bushveld itself, making it possible to walk away from the road system, and with the challenge of finding the next marker. And if you like climbing, well there is a high, high lookout tower of terrifying proportions but a wonderful view when you get to the top.

We left Johannesburg on a cold day, heading north for warmer parts. The days were lovely, warm but not hot, ideal hiking weather. The nights were cool, but not cold, and everyone on the trip contributed extra wood so that we could all gather around a sit-around fire both evenings, quite apart from the braai fire. This made for real togetherness in the evenings with gluhwein, laughter and anecdotes. What we did not have was the luxury of hot water, the campsite caters for the hardy, and most of the year cold water showers are not a problem in that (usually) hot place. We simply gave up on all but the most basic of washes with a kettle of hot water behind a bush, and looked forward to hot showers at home.

Bushveld birds arrived promptly at the campsite the minute it became quiet and the area around the dormitories and houses is always good for birds. The vlei is wonderful for waterbirds and boasts several bird hides. Best of all are the marsh owls at sunrise and sunset. The monkeys fortunately hang around the staff quarters and havenít yet discovered the joys of raiding tents. The giraffe watched us curiously and only showed alarm if we went too close to their young ones. There were also a variety of buck, zebra and wildebeest. The only things to be cautious of were the ostriches and they kept well away from us.

Nylsvley is due to come up on the programme again next year, great to look forward to.

Marge Smith