What you see around you is the outcome of a very special friendship between RETURN Africa and the people of the Makuleke community. Until their removal by the apartheid authorities in 1969, the Makulekes lived in scattered villages between the Luvuvhu and Limpopo rivers in the area that was to become – following the ejection of the people – the Pafuri region of the Kruger National Park. In 1998, after three decades of struggle, the Makulekes finally regained ownership of their ancestral home. Despite an enduring attachment to the land, they decided not to resettle the area. Instead, in a far-sighted agreement, they left the land as a contract park within the wider Kruger system to be managed jointly with the South African national parks agency. Today, in partnership with RETURN Africa, they are relying on a responsible form of nature tourism to remedy the negative effects that the forced removal had on their livelihoods.
The Makuleke land is a geological, natural and cultural treasure trove so rich that it makes our concession one of the most special in Africa. The Pafuri Triangle, as it is often called, is created by two great rivers – the ancient and dying Limpopo to the north and east, which had its origins in the Angolan highlands more than 65 million years ago, and the young and powerful Luvuvhu to the south, which is actively carving its way through the sandstones of the region, in the process creating the magnificent Lanner Gorge, and depositing deep alluvial soils on the floodplains around our camp. Their intersection at Crook’s Corner lies at the apex of a wedge that not only forms a meeting point of three countries – South Africa, Zimbabwe and Mozambique – but also a unique ecological region and a natural funnel for wildlife crossing back and forth in a vast transfrontier park stretching south into Kruger, north into Zimbabwe and east into Mozambique.
Pafuri Camp has 19 tents, 7 of which are family units that sleep up to 4 people. All the tents are situated on the Luvuvhu River, hidden among huge nyala and jackal berry trees. The camp architecture and styling are designed to echo something of the local heritage while ensuring a close up experience of the sights and sounds of wild Africa.