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An African Safari Adventure to Pafuri Camp - Kruger National Park 
Hi Africa Tamed travel friends

Have you ever packed your bags in anticipation of a vacation of unrivaled proportions ? Have you ever felt your inner voice saying “ this is going to be very SPECIAL ? “. Well, for Claire & me, our visit to Wilderness Safaris Pafuri Camp found these thoughts firmly entrenched in our mind as our charter flight from Johannesburg’s Lansaria airport approached their landing strip a mere few kilometers from our troubled shamwaris (“ friends “) in Zimbabwe to our north and within sight of Mozambique to the east.

It is our wish through our Travel Advisory to share with you our experiences,feelings and thoughts we have at our chosen properties we visit every month, however after returning to Cape Town after our Pafuri Camp long weekend, a new definition needs to be added to fully appreciate this property. However, before we get to this definition, let’s look at what this unique, wilderness destination offers……

The Makuleke peoples ancestral homeland, a diversity of exceptional scenic beauty, birdlife of unrivalled value all wrapped up in the most remote, wildest and far flung vestige of the Kruger National Park. However, before we explore this heritage, it is necessary to understand the company behind Pafuri Camp. Wilderness Safaris have for over a quarter of a century strived to protect pristine wilderness areas and the flora and fauna - or biodiversity - that they support. They believe that in protecting these areas, and including the local communities in this process, they will make a difference to Africa and ultimately the world. In short, they believe that the world's wilderness areas will save humankind. A heady mixture of theory mixed with workable reality. Global warming, carbon emissions mingled with a singular disregard for Mother Nature have turned full circle at Wilderness Safaris. Folks who through their personal experience have a fierce conviction that we can make the difference, can counter the effects of modern living and through a partnership with Mother Nature, create utopia. Imagine if you would meeting a consummate hospitality team combined with trained conservationists. Now we were to experience the result.


Luvuvhu River drifting past Pafuri Camp

Our Cessna Caravan ( 12 seater ) gently alighted the hard topped runway and came to a stop close to two safari vehicles. As we disembarked, the warm embrace of the African sun engulfed us. Our ranger Callum Sargeant welcomed us to Pafuri. Claire & and I were afforded our own ranger and incumbent vehicle, an exceptional welcome. A short initiation drive from the airstrip to camp sowed the seed of game drives to come. Perched on the raised banks of the Luvuvhu river, shaded by giant ebony & nyala berry trees, we were greeted by management and their smiling team members. After a brief review of the main areas, Claire & I were taken through to our tent. Now, for those of you who link the word tent with a piece of canvas, uncomfortable conditions and limiting amenities, our tent is juxtaposed to this conjecture ! Positioned on a raised platform overlooking the gently flowing Luvuvhu River, our tent was superbly appointed in fitting colours. A full en suite bathroom and outside shower complemented our home for the next three days. Spacious and open to the elements through zip fastening flaps that allowed for expansive viewing of our surroundings.


Pafui Camp bedroom

Pafuri Camp bathroom

An African safari is a careful mix of game activities (game tracking in vehicles as well as interpretive game walks ), relaxation and eating. At Pafuri Camp we thrived on all fronts ! A key component of a successful safari experience is to be found in your ranger. His/her experience, ability to relate to their guests at an appropriate level and their innate passion for their calling is key. In Callum we found just this ! With seven divergent biomes present within their 24,000 Hectare concession and over 400 bird species this is a birders paradise. Larger mammals also proliferate. During one game drive we witnessed a 30 strong breeding herd of elephants in serene peace ambling along the river bed, we stood on the raised river bank some 300 meters from them admiring the orderly manner these gentle giants intermingled, socialized and protected their young. Then, all hell broke loose. Three bulls approached the herd with the singular purpose of mating with the young females. The peace was shattered as one male chased a female across the river bed, sounds of trumpeting, shrill and dominating filled the air, we stood transfixed as he attempted to mount her only for her to reject his advances and trot off to the safety of the nearby wooded river bank.

As if this was not sufficient safari material, we came within two meters of a bull elephant in musth (a period where he will be actively pursuing a female to cover, witnessed by a secretion from glands between his eye and ears). We witnessed the affinity Callum has developed with Mother Nature during this encounter. Driving along what they called “ The Gauntlet “, we came across this bull elephant. During this period, very much like their human counterparts, their behavior can be a little unpredictable and as the safety of both animal and guest lies firmly in his hands, Claire & I witnessed the exceptional manner in which Callum offered our ele respect, mingled this with his knowledge and yet provided us with a close encounter allowing us to not only hear, smell and communicate with the animal but in complete safety as well.


Callum and Colin at Crooks Corner

Peregrine Falcon, Bateleur & Martial Eagles, the sighting of Fish Eagles close to our tent all contributed to an exceptional safari aspect at Pafuri Camp. We also experienced a game walk in the presence of a herd of buffalo. Noted to be one of the most dangerous animals, again, unpredictable and should we come across dagga boys ( older single males who have been kicked out of the herd ), the knowledge & experience of our ranger comes to the fore. It did once again as Callum and a colleague showed respect and suitable caution as we skirted the herd in their full view and knowledge of our presence.

Two other highlights need to be shared with you. On our first game drive, Callum took us through to Crooks Corner. An apt name for the confluence of three countries and an era of lawlessness of a bygone era. Crooks Corner is a piece of land on the Limpopo River where South Africa, Zimbabwe & Mozambique meet. Crooks would high tail it from one country to Crooks Corner where the country boundaries at the time were a little blurred. Safe in the knowledge that the authorities would not want an altercation of international proportions, the crooks would often taunt their chasers from the safety of this place. So successful was this haven that it became know as Crooks Corner. Today it forms an amazing view from where the Luvuvhu river joins the Limpopo, the river that separates South Africa from Zimbabwe. Our last afternoon/evening game drive took in the scenic Lanner Gorge overlooking the Luvuvhu river. It is difficult to verbalise an African sunset in this region, even more so when perched a few hundred meters above the valley, the setting sun behind and our erudite ranger sharing his dreams with us...

Pafuri Camp - Lanner Gorge

You can imagine that Claire & I are fully into our safari experience, so what is there for us to do outside these eight hours per day ? Well, how about the choice of two pools to absorb the sun around, a tad chilled for prolonged swimming but with views over the Luvuvhu river, sounds of Mother Nature going about her day and attentive staff to ensure drinks are to hand, what else could we need….. I have experienced in excess of 200 game drives during my ten years in this business and have become possibly a little hardened to camps where the service, cuisine and overall experience is not up to scratch. The team at Pafuri however brought me to a higher level in this regard. A strong team ethic in the hands of their GM Hanèl De Wet, her interactive colleagues who ensured guest felt completely at home. They effortlessly intermingled, shared stories and provided an excellent level of care & concern for their guests.


Pafuri Camp at the pool with cocktail drinks

You will never starve at Pafuri Camp ! Nic their chef is a delight to see coming towards us, full of smiles and “ what can we do for you today “, he took Claire’s wheat intolerance request to heart and provided ample alternatives that even had me “ converted “. Attention to detail will set the best camps aside from the rest. There are twenty tents at Pafuri, fourteen suitable for double occupancy and six family tents accommodating up to two adults plus two children. Balance this capacity against over fourty staff members and you have a high ratio of staff to guests. Combine this with their level of training, passion for what they are responsible for and blend this with their incredible respect for their location and you have what was for us, a unique and very special African wilderness experience.


Pafuri Camp fireplace and lounge area

As our return flight rose into the hot afternoon sky, we looked down on our Africa with heavy hearts. We both realised that we had just experienced something not just special but enlightening, we had shared meaningful time and space with folks with the same passion & enthusiasm as ourselves in their back yard. Climbing higher into the deep azure, it would be fair to say that Claire & I had been privileged to meet such gifted colleagues, to have witnessed such awesome events within Mother Nature. I started this article by saying a new definition is needed to encapsulate Pafuri Camp and it has to be “ definitive “. The ultimate, perfect, classic wilderness property we have experienced, this simple.

Next month we visit the Welgevonden Reserve taking in three divergent properties and sharing with you our findings.

Happy Travels !


Africa Tamed Tours & Travel
www.africatamed.co.za

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P.S Combine this Wilderness experience with a popular Big 5 Game experience at a property in the well known Sabi Sands Private Game Reserve. Read our travel blog on our visit to Lion Sands Private Game Lodge.

Check out our recommended Luxury Vacation Packages!

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