Pafuri ReturnAfrica Camp
The Pafuri camp is unique in many ways. Set between the Limpopo and the Luvuvhu rivers, along South Africa’s northeastern frontier with Zimbabwe and Mozambique, the concession attracts masses of wildlife. While comprising only about 1% of the Kruger National Park’s actual area, it is said to contain more than three quarters of Kruger’s biodiversity. In winter, there are herds of elephants, zebras, buffalos, hippos and graceful nyalas (their brown and white stripes earned them their name, which means onion). Aside from the big boys of African safari, you also have the chance to see nearly half of bird species living in South Africa. People from all over the country come here hoping to catch a glimpse the illusive Pel’s fishing owl – a large, copper-winged bird that feeds nocturnally on fish and frogs snatched from the surface of lakes and rivers.
Land of the Makuleke
Secondly, what makes the camp so special is its fascinating history. Until their removal by the apartheid government in 1969, the Makuleke people lived here in scattered villages. This is the area that was to become – following the ejection of the people – the Pafuri region of the Kruger Park. After a three-decade struggle during which they suffered severe hardship, the Makulekes regained ownership of the land. However, they decided not to resettle. Instead, they left it as a contract park within the wider Kruger system. Due to its proximity to Zimbabwe and Mozambique, the area had been heavily poached by the time the Makuleke people received the land back. Recent anti-poaching efforts and re-introduction of game have resulted in significant increases in the number of animals. Today, they are relying on eco-tourism to remedy the negative effects and restore the natural balance of the land. RETURNAfrica, the camp’s management company, works in partnership with the local communities and helps the commercial running of the camp and its activities. Part of any visit to Pafuri is learning more about the rich traditions and culture of the Makuleke people and their land.
The camp is as a collection of 19 luxury tents set along the banks of Luvuvhu river. There are seven ‘family tents’ that sleep up to four persons, making this a 52-bed camp. The tents are smart, with wooden floors, four-poster beds, an inside and outside shower and your own front porch offering gorgeous views over the stream.
On our first afternoon at the camp, we watched a dozen elephants drinking and bathing, right in front of our tent.
Visit the Pafuri Camp in Virtual Reality and join us on an afternoon safari
The days at Pafuri camp are very organised. There is a wake up call for coffee before the morning safari, then a return to the camp for brunch. After, you have a few hours of free time, when you can enjoy the communal area, Wi-Fi (there is no phone signal in the camp otherwise) and the swimming pool. After a light snack at 3pm, there is an afternoon game drive. While this is the main agenda, the rangers are always on the look out for any surprise visitors. In the evening, as we were about to tuck into our bottle of red by the fire, there was an invitation to go for a night drive to see a young male lion, roaming not too far from the camp…
To be continued…
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