Watching a herd of elephants frolicking in the river before falling asleep to the symphony of the bush – there was no better place to celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary. Pafuri Camp is situated along the banks of the beautiful Luvuvhu River in the Maluleke Concession of the Northern Kruger National Park and definitely worth a visit.
Upon entering the area, it was clear that the flood of January 2013 had left its mark and I could not help but wonder what the new owners, Return Africa, had been through restoring the camp after the raging waters had swept through it.
We were met in the parking area by friendly staff offering us warm, damp towels and glasses of cold juice, which were very welcome considering the hot weather. Upon entering the lodge, the first thing we saw was the beautiful, winding Levuvhu River. Looking around at the stylishly decorated interior of the lodge it was difficult to believe that a flood had wreaked havoc to the lodge not long ago. As we stood mesmerized by this breath-taking view, an elephant strolled down the riverbank to bathe in the water just below us. At that moment I would happily have secured myself a spot on one of the luxury daybeds next to the pool and indulged in a cold G&T from the pool bar, but my hubby was eager to see our room.
Tearing myself away from the deck we followed one of the staff members down a raised timber boardwalk to our tented room. Walking along the boardwalk it was clear that each of the 19 luxury tents were completely private. Each of the tents have an ensuite bathroom with indoor and outdoor showers. There are also 7 family tents that sleep 4. The spacious and beautifully decorated tents all have their own large deck and loungers from which to enjoy their unique view of the river. Just as I was about to enjoy a nap on our king-sized bed the call of a Fish eagle beckoned me out onto our deck, just in time to see a crocodile silently slide into the water just before us.
After a delicious high tea, we left for our first game drive. Our brilliant guide, Alweet, explained that we were in a special part of the Kruger Park. According to Alweet this remote 24 000-hectare concession is the largest and most bio-diverse in the Park with many species reaching the southernmost extent of their range here. As much as 75% of the whole Kruger park’s total biodiversity occurs in this area, that is only slightly more that 1% of its total size.
The area boasts with more than 350 bird species. Being avid birders we were hoping to see the Pel’s Fishing owl. On our way to the camp, we stopped on the Luvuvuhu River Bridge and spotted two specials of the area, Bӧhm’s and Mottled Spinetail. Although Alweet went out of his way to find us the Pels, this shy bird eluded us. But the other bird life, beautiful landscapes, and biodiversity more than made up for it.
As the afternoon progressed, we passed the most majestic fig and Jackalberry trees on our way to Crooks Corner – the place where the Luvuvhu and Limpopo rivers, as well as South Africa, Zimbabwe and Mozambique meet. Gazing out at the dry riverbank we took the opportunity, G&T in hand, to chat about the Kudu, Nyala, Elephant and the Sharpe’s Grysbok we saw on the drive. My talented husband, Peet, took this gorgeous photo of the little critter. On our way back we stopped to enjoy a view of the intriguing ruins of Thulamela. Meaning ‘place of birth’ in the VhaVenda language, the stone citadel is regarded as one of the most significant archaeological finds in South Africa.
Pafuri Camp goes out of their way to offer their guests the ultimate bush experience. In addition to game drives twice a day, you can also explore the area on foot. When visiting Pafuri camp a guided walk is a must. The morning of our anniversary Alweet called us at six o’clock for our walk in the breathtaking Fever tree forest – the largest in South Africa. It truly was a magical experience.
After a refreshing outdoor shower, we spent the rest of the day lounging by the pool. Before we knew it Alweet was there to pick us up for our afternoon excursion to Lanner gorge. We reached the gorge just in time to watch the sun slowly slip over the horizon bathing the sandstone and shale walls in hues of orange and pink. I was so mesmerized I hardly heard Alweet explain that the gorge was carved by the Luvuvhu river and forms the boundary between the Kruger National Park to the South and the Makuleke Concession to the North. It is approximately 11km long and at some points more than 150 m deep. Lanner gorge is undoubtedly one of the most breath-taking places I have ever visited and worth adding to your bucket list when visiting Pafuri Camp. Upon returning to the camp, we were ushered to our tent where the staff had set a table on our own deck for a special anniversary dinner. We felt so spoilt and humbled by this beautiful gesture. As we finishing our pudding an old buffalo bull settled down for the night right in front of our tent.
Pafuri Luxury tented camp is undoubtedly one of the best South African luxury Safari experiences I have ever had. The décor is tasteful and ties in well with the surrounds. The staff were friendly and willing to go the extra mile. Being a foodie, I tend to judge destinations on their food and Pafuri camp impressed. Every morning we enjoyed a full English breakfast. Evening game drives only started after everyone had enjoyed high tea. The Chef and his team also impressed us with delicious dinners each evening. My favourite being the springbok shank.
If you are looking for a place to catch your breath Pafuri Camp is definitely for you. RETURNAfrica is currently running some great re-opening specials until the end of February. For bookings, contact email@example.com or phone them on 011 646 1391.
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Image credits: RETURNAfrica; Peet van Eeden (Facebook: Creation Through My Lens); Fay van Eeden