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Pafuri Camp - Makuleke Concession

Discuss the different camps and roads of the Kruger National Park
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Unread post by halfbob » Fri Feb 24, 2006 10:43 pm

We had two very enjoyable nights at Parfuri last July.
I think the camp had only been opened for a couple of weeks before we arrived.
Here are some 'photos of the camp & our "Tent":-


It was wonderful to wake up looking out over the Luvuvhu River in the mornings.
Just a shame it was dark as we had to be up at 5:30 for the Game Drives!

We had a wonderful 3 days there and the two memories that will stick with us forever are the Hippos at Crooks Corner & being above Lanner Gorge watching the sun set.

It was the first 3 days of our first ever trip to Africa and was a great way to start.
After Pafuri we stayed at Olifants & Skukuza in KNP plus Hluhluwe & Ithala in KZN and one night in Swaziland.
We enjoyed all the camps we stayed at but Pafuri was definitely the highlight of our trip (followed closely by Rileys Hilltop Lodge in Swaziland).

One day we will return, but there's a lot more of Africa to see first!

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Unread post by willd57 » Sat Feb 25, 2006 1:40 am

In Oct of 2004 I spent four weeks in a tent on the side of the Pafuri camp, apart from the Wilderness Co-coordinator, Gary, we were the first group and the last ever to camp there.
We were part of an Eco-training course, which now has a permanent camp closer to the Limpopo River.
I'm not a birder, but a birder in our group was amazed at the variety, one of the posts above does list quite a few birds in the area.
We had vultures nesting in the tree above the tent.
Animal life was fantastic around the camp, much of it seen on the bank of the Luvuvhu River opposite us. Nyala, impala, buffalo, baboon, elephant, hippos, Vervets, hippos, kudu and crocodiles were seen most days.
For ones like the Nyala and baboon it was almost as if they knew our presence would deter predators because they seemed to spend a lot of time there.
Some exceptional sightings were a crocodile laying eggs on the bank opposite, and bull elephants that came almost into camp to have a look.
At night both lions and leopards also came almost into the camp on occasions, their tracks were seen and one evening one of the Ranger Guides nearly walked into a leopard that was watching the tents.
Apart from Outpost we had the entire concession to ourselves for a month and after that I was lucky enough to be there for another two weeks minding the Eco-training camp, one week of which I spent there alone. Game was quite shy though, not used to vehicles but they were slowly improving.
It was very rare to see lions and leopards, though on occasion we had some good sightings.
The local elephants, a group of about 9 bulls who were sometimes in smaller groups, soon got used to us and ignored the vehicle.
The only time we actually saw a breeding herd north of the Luvuvhu we were on foot, walking down to the river.
We noticed the backs of the cows moving through the bush in front of us, and waited until they reached the river bank and vanished from sight down into the river.
There were five of us, three experienced ranger guides, a semi experienced tracker, and me.
The decision was not to go to the river, but to walk back to the vehicle skirting a large grass clearing that bordered the bush.
Scarcely had we taken two steps into the clearing when two lionesses jumped out of nowhere about ten meters in front of us, growled and ran in different directions.
The lead ranger cocked his rifle and the sound caused the lioness running towards us to reverse direction as she realized exactly where we were, and followed her friend across the clearing.
And could they run, they crossed the fifty meter wide clearing in a few seconds and vanished into the bush on the other side.
We just had time to breathe again when their were some enraged screams from the river, and the elephant herd came boiling back into sight.
Attracted by the noise of the lions and protective of their calves they were obviously heading over to deal to the lions, which was fine except the lions were gone and we were in their path.
The head ranger then told us to do something he said later he had never had to do in 14 years of guiding, RUN!!
Despite the fact that we were wearing sandals and shorts, and there were various obstacles like thorn bushes and fallen logs in our path it's amazing how fast you can run with several dozen tons of enraged motherhood behind you.
Fortunately for us they stopped where the lions had been, and proceeded to mill about to make sure they had gone.
Since those days of visitor shy animals I've learned many animals are getting used to the vehicles, lions are seen often and rhino and giraffe have both been introduced to the area where previously they were absent. But it is still a shame that never again will people be able to camp on the banks of the Luvuvhu knowing they are the only ones there.

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Unread post by Tabs » Sat Feb 25, 2006 3:35 am

Wow willd57 - what a great adventure and Thank You for sharing it with us! It brought back many great memories :)

Eco-Training is certainly, in my opinion, one of the best ways of experiencing the bush and learning about the animals and the environment.
I have done the GR Eco-T course twice just for the opportunity to walk in the bush every day, never knowing what may be around the next thorn bush or termite mound!
I hope that I will be able to do their Advanced GR course one day -
I think that may be the course that they do at the new camp in Kruger that you mentioned?

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Unread post by johanrebel » Thu Mar 09, 2006 5:04 pm

willd57 wrote: rhino and giraffe have both been introduced to the area where previously they were absent.
I spent ten nights at Pafuri Camp late last month.
The giraffe all ran away shortly after their reintroduction, never to be seen again.
There is single giraffe in the area (which is a contractual national park, not a concession), which is seen on occasion.

One of the reintroduced rhinos has moved south of the Levuvhu, the others mainly hang out in the area between the River and the tar road.
There is a year-round water in the form of a spring in that block, so it hoped the rhinos will settle down and establish a home range there.
The Levuvhu West road to Lanner Gorge via Mangala is the only road in the entire block, although a track at the base of the hills rising at the northern end of the Mangala plain is in the planning stages.
So is a walking trails camp, which will hopefully open in the near future.

I spent a morning with the rhino researchers, whose job it is to locate the rhinos on a daily basis.
They also have to check the western boundary fence every day, to make sure the rhinos do not escape into the former SADF zone along the Limpopo.
Although this is now part of the contractual national park, there is no fence on its western side, so once in there, the rhinos could keep on walking all the way to Musina.

We managed to get to within 10 meters of a rhino cow and calf, but the Mopani bush was so thick that we could not see them, only hear them breathe.

An interesting observation on the local elephant population is that they move out of the area as soon as the first rains come, almost to a man (so to speak).
During my visit there were only two or three bulls left in an area of 24,000 hectares!
It is also quite obvious that elephants stick to the riverine areas in the dry season.
Elephant spoor is very scarce away from the rivers, and the Mopani veld has suffered very little elephant impact.

Local game has become habituated to vehicles very quickly, animals are no longer as skittish as they were only half a year ago.

Poaching used to be rampant in the area.
The Makuleke have set up their own anti-poaching unit (financed by Wilderness Safaris to the tune of R 2 million) which removed over 3,000 snares within the first few months of operations (I can't help but wonder how well the area was patrolled when SANParks were still in charge).

Time constraints prevent me from posting a full report on the lodge and the area.
Suffice to say that it is not only stunningly beautiful, but very different from the rest of the KNP.
The numerous pans large and small on the Limpopo floodplain, fringed by huge and almost pure stands of Northern Lala Palm Hyphaene petersiana are amazing.

Questions welcome.


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Unread post by arks » Mon Jul 03, 2006 3:40 am

This is my photo of the same spot, but taken in late April. However, what I'm wondering is whether this is the luxury Parfuri camp or the camp used for the Eco-Training? Does anyone know?

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Unread post by DuQues » Mon Jul 03, 2006 8:54 am

It's the luxury camp. The ecotraining camp is located more north and west.
Not posting much here anymore, but the photo's you can follow here There is plenty there.

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Re: Pafuri Wilderness Camp

Unread post by Kingfisha » Tue Feb 10, 2009 3:04 pm

I see this is a very old posting.
But I have to say that I had the honour last year to stay at Pafuri Camp for 4 nights.
It was ABSOLUTELY fantastic!!
The staff were so accommodating (we wanted to do a lot of bird watching) and the luxury tent accommodation was out of this world.
We did game watching from our deck - Elephant, Nyala, kudu, bushbuck, warthog, baboon, eland, Duiker, leopard, etc. etc.

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Re: Moderately upscale places to stay in or around KNP

Unread post by Mant » Mon Oct 19, 2009 10:55 am


Here is some info on Pafuri Lodge:

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 1500s.

Pafuri Camp blends into its surroundings and offers a superb all-round experience.
The diverse Pafuri region forms an integral part of anyone’s visit to the Kruger National Park.
The Pafuri Wilderness Trail is a wonderful alternative for exploring this fascinating area on foot.

Pafuri Camp is found in the private 24 000-hectare Makuleke Concession at the extreme north of the Kruger National Park.
The Pafuri “triangle” is created by the intersection of two great rivers – the ancient and dying Limpopo and the young and powerful Luvuvhu River.
The latter is actively carving its way through the sandstone of the escarpment, in the process creating the impressive Lanner Gorge.
Their intersection forms the meeting point of three countries – South Africa, Zimbabwe and Mozambique.

The Concession is home to large herds of buffalo, as well as hippo, white rhino, lion, leopard and high seasonal concentrations of elephant.
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.

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, zebra, chacma baboon, waterbuck, warthog and perhaps grey duiker or bushbuck.
Patience and a little luck may yield the more elusive residents of the area such as lion, leopard and sable.

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, Arnot’s Chat, Black-throated Wattle-Eye and Pel’s Fishing-Owl.

The aura of human history is particularly prevalent, with cultural landmarks such as the ancient Thulamela civilisation,
Early Stone Age sites and the more recent signs of Makuleke habitation. Crooks’ Corner at the confluence of the Limpopo and Luvuvhu Rivers is redolent of long-ago hunters and colourful characters who searched for adventure, as well as the smoking fires and dwellings of the Makuleke villages.
It is this unique aspect as well as a combination of phenomenal diversity and spectacular scenery that makes this area unlike any other in Kruger.


Situated in the 24 000-hectare Makuleke concession in northern Kruger National Park.
The camp is situated on a bend on the northern bank of the Luvuvhu River.

Child policy

Children of 6 years and older are welcome.


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.

Tent details

20 East African-style Meru tents – 6 of which can be used as family units.
Tents are en-suite and are under a shaded canopy on elevated boardwalks.
Safe in each tent.

Camp Description

Dining and bar area are under a canopy of majestic ebony trees.
Dinners are served on wooden decks overlooking the river or the pool or indoors under thatch.
Large swimming pool overlooking the river on the eastern side of the camp.
There is also a small boma.


Guests can take part in guided activities in the concession or can self-drive in and around the Kruger National Park in their own vehicles on Park roads. However, self-driving cannot take place anywhere in the Makuleke Concession except on the main access road into and through the area.

Summer / winter schedule

Early morning wake up – summer 05h00 / winter 05h30
Pre-game drive breakfast – summer 05h30 / winter 06h00
Depart game drive – summer 05h45 - 06h00 / winter 06h30 - 07h00 depending on weather
Brunch – summer 10h00 / winter 10h30
Afternoon Tea/High tea – summer 15h30 – 16h00 / winter 15h00
Depart afternoon drive – summer 16h00 – 16h30 / winter 15h30
Dinner – summer from about 20h00 / winter from about 19h30

Drinks Policy

The camp offers a fully stocked bar with a good selection of South African wines. Costs of drinks are on the guests’ account and must be settled directly at the camp.

Electricity & Water

Power from generator and 220-volt power inverted from a battery bank.
Constant 220-volt power to rooms for battery charging, razors, fans etc.
Potable water to the camp comes from 2 strong boreholes.

Laundry Policy

Same-day laundry facility is available at a charge.

Extras Payment

Extras can be paid for by cash, MasterCard, Visa, Amex and Diners Club. Cheques are not accepted. Travellers’ cheques are also accepted.

I recommend that you try out Pafuri Lodge. :)

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Re: Pafuri

Unread post by DuQues » Tue Oct 05, 2010 1:19 pm

Carole, SANParks doesn't "do the accomodation" for Pafuri camp.
It's part of the Makuleke concession.
The concession is owned by the Makuleke Community, displaced from the area under the apartheid regime, and the camp is a joint venture between the Makuleke and Wilderness Safaris.

Have a look on these pages.
It is a fantastic area.
Not posting much here anymore, but the photo's you can follow here There is plenty there.

Feel free to use any of these additional letters to correct the spelling of words found in the above post: a-e-t-n-d-i-o-s-m-l-u-y-h-c

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Re: Pafuri

Unread post by ndloti » Tue Oct 05, 2010 1:57 pm

One can drive there with ones own passenger motor vehicle .
KNP is sacred. I am opposed to the modernisation of Kruger and from the depths of my soul long for the Kruger of yesteryear! 1000+km on foot in KNP incl 56 wild trails.200+ nights in the wildernessndloti-indigenous name for serval.


Re: Pafuri

Unread post by Richprins » Tue Oct 05, 2010 7:57 pm

DuQues wrote:The concession is owned by the Makuleke Community

It is not really "owned", in a strict sense, as the area still forms part of Kruger and the veld is managed entirely by SANPARKS, as per the Land Claim agreement.

A part of the revenue forthcoming from lodge activities goes to the chiefs involved, and then to the community! :thumbs_up:

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Re: Pafuri

Unread post by johanrebel » Wed Oct 06, 2010 2:55 pm

DuQues wrote:and you can happily drive the roads in the consession.

You may most definitely not.
The general public can drive the tar road between Pafuri Gate and Luvuvhu Bridge and guests with a confirmed reservation for Pafuri Camp can drive the gravel access road from Luvuvhu Bridge to camp.
All other roads are strictly off limits, only official game viewing vehicles from Pafuri Camp and The Outpost are allowed to use them.

But yes, the area is fantastic, and Pafuri Camp comes warmly recommended.
Nothing else in Kruger can even remotely compare.


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Re: Pafuri

Unread post by Multiflorum » Wed Oct 06, 2010 7:09 pm

Here are some of my thoughts on Pafuri.
If they come across in a somewhat unstructured manner, I apologize, but I wish to speak from the heart since this is what one should do when you talk about the magic of Pafuri.

I agree with Johan. I take it that he has spent time at Pafuri.
I too have spent quite some time there and will be going back there soon.

Since I have been going there, it has resulted in me spending less time down south.
In school holidays I avoid southern Kruger completely.
The only downside to Pafuri is the distance from JHB - no less than seven hours by car which means you can't really go there for a weekend unless you are prepared to spend lots of time traveling.
The good thing I suppose is that many people avoid the place, especially in summer when it can get unbearably hot.
I recall a day just before Christmas 2009 when the maximum temperature reached 49 degrees Celsius.

In terms of biodiversity, Pafuri is quite different from the rest of Kruger.
For the birdwatcher and botanist, the concession presents the best opportunity to see some very special birds and trees which you won't easily see south of the Luvuvhu.
Think here of Pel's Fishing Owl, Bluecheeked bee eaters (of which there are quite a good number in summer) or the Paperbark Corkwood, or if you are into aloes, Aloe Angelica (Wylies Poort Aloe) which you are unlikely to see down south.

If your interest is the big five, Pafuri may disappoint you (compared to Lower Sabie)since lions you will not see easily.
The best time to see the big five would be now (before the rains) since the Limpopo is completely dried up and the Luvuvhu the only source of water, save for a few pans on the Limpopo Floodplains like Makwatsi.

The result of this water scarcity means that game viewing is excellent, with big herd of buffalo, elephant and plenty of game along the Luvuvhu including of course lion and leopard.

In summer game viewing is less rewarding to be honest given the abundance of water but the birdwatching then is of course unlike anything else in Kruger.
After a thunder shower, it is not uncommon to see ten or twenty Steppe Eagles or Lesser Spotted Eagles in a small area.
I am also told that the elephants go south in summer while I have it on good authority that some of the bulls are now crossing into Gonarezou through the narrow corridor that links Kruger with that reserve.
It may be that they have done so in the past but stopped as a result of the civil war in Mozambique.

There are places up at Pafuri (like Lanner Gorge, Mutale Gorge and the Limpopo Flood Plains not to mention Nyambi pan, a small little pan you walk to since there is no road to the pan itself, set among many fewer trees and which provides excellent shade on a hot day which present unrivaled natural splendour and which you will not encounter anywhere else in South Africa for that matter.

The first time I walked in the bush there it reminded me more of East Africa or Botswana than Kruger.
Don't get me wrong, there are some fantastic places in the Kruger (think of the views from Nkumbe, Nwanetsi, the Kanniedood dam road from Shingwedzi to Nyawutsi bird hide or hiking along the Olifants river) but yet, there is something different about Pafuri - the sense of isolation, Thulamela, the gentle flow of the Luvuvhu brown water - I am not sure, but the place has a certain magnetism which draws one back time and time again.

The camp itself is excellent.
If one can afford it, one should go there.
Although generally more expensive than Kruger, it is still far more affordable than places like Singita or Sabi-Sabi.
Also, they are always looking at attracting South Africans to go given that international visitors tend to visit seasonally.
Hence, specials are not uncommon and one should keep a lookout for them.

No camp in Kruger is quite like this and that includes the bush veld camps.
I find that the Kruger camps nowadays get noisy - I have had some bad experiences in places like Shingwedzi where staff have their families over for the holidays and then play loud music - no chance of such music at Pafuri, the only music you will hear at Pafuri as you rise at 05h00 is the dawn chorus of the birds that make the trees and vegetation along the Luvuvhu their home.

Then there is the excellent quality of the guides up there.
If one goes there with a particular interest in say birds or amphibians, they will go out of their way to accommodate that interest.
Although there are some excellent SANParks guides, I sometimes get the impression they are not quite so passionate although this is the exception rather than the rule.
I have generally had very good experiences with SANParks guides.

In all, Pafuri has no equal in all of Kruger and until one has seen the beauty of a disappearing sun at Lanner Gorge as it illuminates the rocky outcrops before disappearing to the west or a sunrise at Banini Pan or an afternoon drive along the Luvuvhu river approaching the Fewer Tree forest (which is far more impressive than the Fewer tree forest on the southern side of the Luvuvhu) I don't think one can truly say that you have been to Kruger.


Re: Pafuri

Unread post by Richprins » Wed Oct 06, 2010 8:12 pm

Welcome, Multiflorum! :thumbs_up:

You write very well, and I am sure you could add a lot to the forums!

There was a Pel's opposite the picnic spot last Thursday, according to the attendant, so they are around.

I'm not sure about the 7 hour trip from Jhb, though...if you klap the N1 up to Tshipise turnoff and enter via Pafuri gate it should be closer to 5 hours.

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Re: Pafuri

Unread post by johanrebel » Thu Oct 21, 2010 8:40 pm

joshilewis wrote:As far as I know, doing a trail from Pafuri camp is the only way to access Lanner Gorge (think that's the right one).
The Lanner Gorge lookout can be reached by vehicle (no public access), but if you want to walk the Gorge itself you indeed have to explore it on foot.


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