There are so many reasons to love Pafuri, but here are 10 of our best – please send us yours via Twitter or Facebook using the hashtag #MyPafuri.
1. This is ‘Wild Africa’: A trip to Pafuri is not the Disney version of what being ‘on safari’ is all about. No, you won’t necessarily have the Big 5 served up on an afternoon’s game drive (although you might!), but you will certainly experience a magnificent variety of free-roaming wildlife in spectacular natural settings – plains, gorges, pans, mountains, gorges and rivers – where the only thing orchestrated is your sundowner. For the rest, nature dictates the pace. It might be a herd of over 100 elephants coming down to the Luvuvhu to drink, the thrill of the Pafuri Female (leopard) stalking a nyala in the Fever Tree Forest or a pod of hippo lazing in the deep waters around Crooks’ Corner. There is nothing formulaic about Pafuri, and that’s why people love it.
2. Unrivalled biodiversity: Our remote concession, stretching across 26,500 hectares, is the meeting point of a multitude of habitats, resulting in a region of extraordinary biodiversity. It is the most diverse within the whole of Kruger with almost three quarters of the park’s bird, mammal, fish, amphibian, reptile and tree species being found here in an area only slightly more than 1% of its total size – enormous herds of buffalo and elephant, a wide variety of antelope, large and small predators, birdlife in abundance, huge stands of baobabs and fever trees, riverine forests, mountains, floodplains, pans and much more. Pafuri simply is a natural wonderland.
3. Conservation without borders: In Pafuri you can stand with one foot in South Africa, the other in Zimbabwe and, if you reach down, you can touch Mozambican soil! Our concession lies in the huge triangle created by the Luvuvhu and Limpopo rivers. Their intersection at Crook’s Corner lies at the apex of a wedge that not only forms the meeting point of three countries but also the hub of a vast transfrontier park stretching south into Kruger, north into Zimbabwe and east into Mozambique. The fact that there are no boundary fences means easy movement for wildlife – and wonderful opportunities for our guests. RETURNAfrica has already pioneered cross-border walks and will soon launch a Great Limpopo Transfrontier cycling adventure.
4. The Elephants of Pafuri: Pafuri is known for its elephants. These magnificent giants are everywhere, in and around our camps and throughout our concession. During the dry months, huge breeding herds often congregate in the low-lying floodplains near the confluence at Crook’s Corner and close to Pafuri Camp. But, at any time of year, you’re likely to catch a glimpse of a large bull moving ghostlike through the fever tree forest as the sun begins to set…
5. Incomparable birdlife: Pafuri is something of a Mecca for southern African twitchers. Our bird list is nearing 400 species, some of which are found nowhere else in South Africa. The serious birder will revel in ticking Böhm’s and Mottled Spinetails, Racket-tailed Rollers, Three-banded Coursers, and Southern Hyliota. Other specials are Black-throated Wattle-Eye, Yellow White-Eye, Meve’s Starling and Tropical Boubou. And, if there is one place you might have your first sighting of the Pel’s Fishing Owl, it is in along the banks of the Luvuvuhu near – or even in! – Pafuri Camp.
The elusive Pel’s Fishing Owl
6. History and culture: Pafuri is a place of story and legend. Its human history stretches back hundreds of thousands of years through the recent Makuleke and European periods to the great stone-walled civilization of Thulamela (which you can visit) and into the hunter-gatherer and early stone ages. RETURNAfrica has partnered with the Makuleke community, who once lived on the land and have now returned as are our landlords and business partners, to create a bush experience where local heritage is celebrated. Our staff will tell you stories about their ancestors and their more recent history. And, if you feel adventurous, you can visit one of their villages where they will entertain you with traditional meals, songs, dancing and a very special performance that dramatizes their way of life before and after their removal from Pafuri.
7. Walking trails – wild Africa up close: Pafuri is unsurpassed walking country. For the true bush lover, nothing beats exploring Kruger’s forgotten corner on foot. Between April and October every year, you can spend four days on a Pafuri Walking Trail in the company of an expert guide who will show you the bush as you’ve never seen it before. Home base is a seasonal tented camp on the Luvuvhu River where we serve hearty food and drink in an unforgettable setting. And, for the truly adventurous, RETURNAfrica occasionally offers minimalist trails when we camp under the stars or foray across the Limpopo into the Zimbabwean portion of the transfrontier park.
8. Got to love a bit of luxury: While Pafuri is wild and rugged, Pafuri Camp is just the opposite. This gorgeous camp offers luxury en-suite tents, with glorious views over the Luvuvhu River. The architecture and styling are designed to echo something of the local heritage while ensuring a close up experience of the sights and sounds of the bush. Tents are beautifully decorated and communal areas are inviting and cosy, with a bush bar, swimming pool and plenty of space to laze in the shade of the giant trees that overhang the camp.
9. Family-friendly: We believe that Pafuri should be shared, and who better to share the jewel of Kruger with than your family. Pafuri Camp and Baobab Hill Bush House both offer family-friendly* accommodation. There are seven family tents at Pafuri Camp, and families can book out the entire Baobab Hill Bush House – this private safari house, perched atop a kopje with spectacular views all round, is fenced, and there is a swimming pool for the kids to enjoy.
10. Hang on a minute, we forgot to mention the views from Lanner Gorge, stopping off at Crook’s Corner for sundowners, the palm-fringed pans of the Limpopo valley, full moon over the Luvuvhu, the delicious meals, the sunsets that take your breathe away….
* Please note children the age of 12 and over can go on game drives.