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South Africa Safari

Pafuri Camp

Northern Kruger National Park, Limpopo Province, South Africa

Big bull elephant at Pafuri
Return to Map of Limpopo Province

View images of Pafuri Camp: Pafuri Camp Images
View Camp Layout Map of Pafuri Camp: Pafuri Map

PAFURI CAMP RATES: Pafuri Camp Rates

Pafuri Camp is situated between the Limpopo and the Luvuvhu Rivers in the northern sector of the Kruger National Park, in a 24,000-hectare area called the Pafuri triangle or the Makuleke. This area is the ancestral home of the Makuleke people and is one of the most diverse and scenically attractive areas in the Kruger National Park.

The region is considered one of Kruger's biodiversity hotspots, with some of the largest herds of elephant and buffalo, leopard and lion and incredibly prolific birdlife. In May 2007 the biological significance of the area was recognised in its declaration as a Ramsar Site - a wetland of international importance.

Situated in the far northern sector of the Park and being so different from the rest of the Park, it complements the scenery, experience and game viewing offered at the lodges in the central and southern Kruger and the private reserves like Sabi Sand on the western boundary of the Park. Travellers looking to experience the Kruger in its entirety should ideally combine Pafuri in the subtropical far north with any number of camps in the central parts of Kruger.

Accommodation           For images of Pafuri Camp, click Pafuri Camp Images
Pafuri Camp lies on a gentle bend along the northern bank of the Luvuvhu River, under the shade of enormous ebony and nyala berry trees. The Luvuvhu draws many different animals to its waters, from elephant, buffalo and nyala to wading birds and fish eagles. The main deck has ample room to sit and watch the daily passage of wildlife to and from the river, and the swimming pool is perfect for cooling off in the heat of the day. The dining and lounge areas are open to the river view, and a lower-level terrace is perfect for watching sunrise with a cup of freshly brewed coffee, or sipping sundowners as the sky darkens and the crickets begin to sing.

The camp has 20 tents, six of which are family tents sleeping four people. Each tent is on a raised platform two metres off the ground and joined by elevated walkways. This allows wildlife to move undisturbed to and from the river, and also catches the breeze moving through the tree canopy overhead. The bathroom is en suite with both indoor and outdoor showers for those who would like to bathe under the stars!

The main area, with its large decks and open-sided lounge and dining rooms, forms the centre of the camp. The tents are spread out along the riverbank on either side effectively creating two “wings” – Pafuri East and West.

The colourful fabrics with which the camp is furnished have been made locally and reflect the culture of the Makuleke community. The décor has been designed to represent elements of the local heritage and history, its unique stone walls evocative of the famous Thulamela culture that existed in the area in the 1500's.

Numbers of tents
Pafuri consists of 20 tents divided into:
Pafuri East – 7 tents and Pafuri West – 13 tents.
Pafuri East 3 x twin bedded tents 2 x double tents 2 x family tents – accommodates 4 guests
Pafuri West 6 x twin bedded tents 3 x double tents 4 x family tents – accommodates 4 guests

The camp can accommodate a maximum of 52 guests in 20 tents some of which can accommodate families of up to 4 guests.

The camp facilities include:
• Dining and bar area are under a canopy of majestic ebony trees.
• Large swimming pool
• Dinners served in a traditional style boma under the stars, on wooden decks overlooking the Luvuvhu River or indoors under thatch. 
• Fully stocked bar with a good selection of South African wines. The costs of these will be billed to your room and are payable on departure.
• Same-day laundry facility is available at a charge.

Electricity and Water
• Power from generator and 220 volt power inverted from a battery bank.
• Constant 220 volt power to rooms for battery charging, razors etc.
• Potable water to the camp comes from strong boreholes.
• Overhead fans have 24-hour power.

Child policy
Children of 6 years and older are welcome.

Flying Times
To/From Johannesburg Grand Central 1hr 40 minutes
Scheduled Sefofane seat rate service operating 3 times a week on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays from mid-to-late 2005. Minimum 2 passengers

Driving Time
Phalaborwa Airport +/- 5 hours
Timbavati Camps +/- 5.5 hours
Johannesburg Airport +/- 6.5 hours
Nelspruit +/- 6 hours

Activities in the Makuleke / Pafuri area are extremely varied and interesting. Game drives in open 4x4 vehicles, night drives, walks and hides (including some that will cater for sleep-outs) are all part of the range of activities that are on offer.

One of the most important aspects of this area is its palaeo-anthropological history, with its plethora of evidence of early human ancestors stretching back some 2 million years ago, through the Stone Age and into the Iron Age about 400 years ago when the Thulamela dynasty ruled in this area. This dynasty built incredible structures that are not dissimilar to that found in the Great Zimbabwe. Throughout the concession, there is evidence of its human inhabitants, in the form of rock paintings and artefacts – under many a baobab are Stone Age hand tools, such as hand axes, to be found.

Guests can self-drive in and around the Kruger National Park on the conventional roads in their own vehicles. There is no self driving at all in private vehicles anywhere in the Makuleke concession except on the main access road into and through the area. If guests wish to walk, game drive or night drive anywhere on the concession, this is done in Pafuri Camp's 4x4 vehicles with its resident guides - all at additional cost. These activities can be pre-booked at the time of reservation or when in camp

• They also offer guided morning walking and birding safaris of between 3 to 4 hours
• Guided safaris including brunch overlooking Lanner Gorge +/- 6 - 8 hours
• Guided night drive +/- 3 hours
• Shorter guided walks +/- 2 hours
• Specialist birding walk/drive +/- 3 hours
• Mountain bike safaris +/- 3 hours
• Specialist safaris on the history and archaeology of the area +/- 2 hours
• Lunch including drinks at game viewing hides +/- 3 hours.

Discover Pafuri Walking Trail           For more info on Pafuri Walking, click Pafuri Walking Trail           For images of Pafuri Walking Trail, click Pafuri Walking Images
Walk through one of the most remote and diverse places in the Kruger: the riverine areas of the Limpopo and Luvuvhu rivers and secret perennial springs interspersed with rugged baobab-dotted kopjes that jut from mopane woodland. Endless vistas across palm-studded floodplains, acacia woodland and ethereal riverine forest combine excellently with wildlife and bird encounters.

Makuleke Concession and Game Viewing
The Makuleke Concession is the extreme northernmost sector of the Kruger National Park and is located between the Limpopo and Luvuvhu Rivers in what is also known as the Pafuri region. To the north and east lies Mozambique and Zimbabwe. This area is destined to become the core of the new Greater Limpopo Transfrontier or "Peace" park that will straddle South Africa, Mozambique and Zimbabwe.

The Makuleke / Pafuri is one of the few true wilderness areas left in South Africa and the vegetation is so different to anything else within Kruger, that one might be forgiven for thinking one was in Central Africa! The large trees in this area are usually nearly 50% taller than most baobabs, and scenically, the area is diverse, with stunning mountains, shady, deep gorges, forests of yellow-tinged fever trees, monolith baobabs, mopane woodland, and open savannah grassland. The area is a true contrast to the rest of the Kruger National Park and a visit here truly rounds off the Kruger experience of the southern lodges.

Although this 24 000ha area comprises only fractionally more than 1% of the total area of the 2.2 million-hectare Greater Kruger National Park, 75% of all species in this region occur at Pafuri: nearly 400 birds species and over 100 mammal species make up some of the more visible aspects of this incredible biodiversity.

The Pafuri region is famous for the large herds of elephant and buffalo that are resident most of the year round, which concentrate in particular around the permanent waters of the Luvuvhu River in the dry winter months. Leopard have been sighted hunting the strong population of nyala and impala that live alongside the Luvuvhu system. On the easternmost boundary at "Crook's Corner" the Luvuvhu supports a large population of hippo and crocodile.

The Limpopo and Luvuvhu rivers host the highest density of nyala in Kruger and species such as eland, Sharpe's grysbok and yellow-spotted rock dassie, which are difficult to find further south in the Park, are regularly seen here. A drive along the floodplain and riverine fringe of either of the two large rivers usually produces good general game in the form of nyala, impala, greater kudu, chacma baboon, waterbuck, warthog and perhaps grey duiker or bushbuck, while careful searching may yield the more elusive residents of the area such as lion and leopard. Other areas hold steenbok, the agile klipspringer and herds of Burchell's zebra. Recently, and excitingly, species such as wildebeest and white rhino have been relocated to the area, from which they have been locally extinct for almost a century.

The area has long been regarded as something of a Mecca for southern African birdwatchers. Some species are found nowhere else in South Africa and the serious birder will revel in being able to find Böhm's and Mottled Spinetails, Racket-tailed Roller, Three-banded Courser and Southern Hyliota. Other specials are Black-throated Wattle-Eye, Pel's Fishing-Owl, Yellow White-Eye, Meve's Starling and Tropical Boubou.

In 2005 six white rhino, eight blue wildebeest, Burchell's zebra and impala were moved from the central district of the Kruger National Park and taken north to the Makuleke Concession. This was the first phase of the Makuleke Large Mammal Reintroduction Project, the overall aim being to establish a breeding nucleus of white rhino and other species in the Makuleke region of the Kruger National Park. The achievement of this will result in improved marketability of the ecotourism projects in the area and also in the improvement of the ecological integrity and diversity of the area.

In 2006, the project moved into its second phase, the objective being to understand the local ecology of the white rhino in an area from which it has been absent for so long, and in so doing to provide this information to the broader conservation community. Phase three would ideally see the establishment of further species in the area.

See the Trust website for updates: Makuleke Large Mammal Reintroduction Project

Children in the Wilderness has run yearly programmes at Pafuri for the local Makuleke school children since 2005. This is particularly significant, as this gives the children a chance to see the very land from which their grandparents were evicted so many years ago. They are able to appreciate its wealth of beauty and diversity and to learn from and be inspired by those members of their villages who have become knowledgeable guides and staff at Pafuri Camp.

Read more: Children in the Wilderness South Africa

Community Partnerships
In a country with increasing population and habitat use pressures, the concept of community-based conservation has come to the fore as perhaps the most appropriate mechanism for wildlife protection in the future. Up until a few years ago, areas were often protected at the expense of their human inhabitants. The extreme north of the Kruger is a case in point: in 1969, the Nationalist Government forcibly removed the Makuleke people from their ancestral lands around Pafuri. In 1998, the Makuleke won their land back, and recognising its unique conservation value resolved to retain it within the Kruger National Park. In 2003, they partnered with Wilderness Safaris in building and managing Pafuri Camp within the concession.

Central to the success of the venture has been tangible economic benefits for the Makuleke community who live outside the Kruger Park. Accordingly 8% of revenue generated by the camp is paid directly to the community body in which ownership of the land vests. This income is used for communal improvements and benefits the entire community. In addition to this are the benefits of employment: more than 100 Makuleke were employed during construction, with a further eight employed as game guards in the anti-poaching unit and nearly 50 others in the running of Pafuri Camp.

This is a small proportion of the total community population of course and in seeking to spread the benefits more widely Wilderness Safaris in partnership with a German NGO and the South Africa Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism (DEAT) has begun a small loan scheme that amongst other projects has the operation of a community Bed & Breakfast at which guests of Pafuri Camp are able to stay.

Another is the Makuleke Hydroponics Tunnel Farming Project that produces quality fresh vegetables for Pafuri Camp and a number of other lodges in the area. With funding and input from the German NGO and Wilderness Safaris the project is starting to mature and tomatoes, spinach and three varieties of lettuce are being produced for commercial sale. The first delivery to Pafuri Camp took place in April 2007 and has continued on subsequent Wednesdays!

Top          Return to Map of Limpopo Province

For tourist information and activities in the Limpopo Province, click More Limpopo
For further information about Kruger National Park, click More Kruger

For further information about South Africa, click More South Africa

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