December 2005: Marion and I drove in at Pafuri, stayed at Pafuri Camp and then drove all the way from north to south to exit at Malelane, enjoying Rhino Walking Safaris – one of our favourite safari products – along the way…
The Luvuvhu River chonks past Pafuri Camp at sunrise.
Pafuri Camp is located in the Makuleke region of the Kruger National Park. The Makuleke community has granted a private concession to the camp’s operators and shares in the profits.
The Luvuvhu runs red past our luxury tent on its way to the Limpopo. In the course of one day it rose from a trickle to a fast-flowing torrent.
Blue pool – red river.
Marion and I were privileged to be at Pafuri at the same time as Lee Berger, a paleo-anthropologist who is conducting research in the area. Here he leads us into a cutting used by game, especially elephant, and the ancient peoples of the area.
Lee shows Nick how the play Tchuba (or the Bow game) on a board engraved in the sandstone by herd boys some 600-900 years ago. Note another board at Nick’s right hand. These pastoralists had leisure time.
A major trading civilisation existed here from around 1550 to 1650 AD. Across the Luvuvhu the restored Thulamela citadel dominates the valley. Note the stones below the cliff here – remains of city walls. Day tours to Thulamela can be booked from Punda Maria.
From a Late Stone Age site, littered with stone tools, Marion gazes over the valley that its inhabitants once dominated. Lee reckons that we were the first “guests”, outside of rangers and researchers, to walk here in about 40 years.
Lanner Gorge at dusk – a wild and spectacular place.
The Shingwedzi in flood as we drive down to Letaba.
Lioness lazing next to the road near Tshokwane.
A fiery sunset at Rhino Walking Safari’s sleep-out.
If you stay at Plains Camp, then a sleep-out is a must-do. Four sleeping platforms form a giant baboon-jungle-gym, decorated by tall tambotis.
Paul from Seattle sets his net shelter. Short of sleeping on the ground (not recommended), this is as close to nature as you can get in Kruger.
Morning at the sleep-out. A nearby waterhole would make this an exciting place to be in winter.
Walking back to Plains Camp. As someone who usually visits Kruger in winter, the green veld is almost jarring for me.
This photo of Marion outside our tent at Plains Camp was taken in September 2004 at the end of winter. Contrast the brown veld with the green at left.
Plains Camp’s communal area evokes a colonial safari ambience. It’s a great setting for the post-walk, post-brunch siesta.
I photographed this rhino near Lower Sabie in 2006. The chances are good that it is no more
Thank you for visiting my outdoor blog. RalphPina.com documents my experiences over many years of appreciating, and adventuring in, Nature. It celebrates visual beauty, advocates minimal impact, reflects on humans’ relationship with our ecosphere, spans the planet but focuses on the wild diversity of southern Africa. Photos, videos and GPS maps of hiking, cycling, kayaking, abseiling, canoeing and windsurfing..