The LIMPOPO Trail

Rustic Tented Bush Camp

Eastern Pafuri, Northern Kruger National Park

LIMPOPO Trail

The Limpopo Trail is a three-night, four-day walking trail in the spectacular, private Makuleke Concession of the northern Kruger National Park. It is perhaps the best area for walking in the entire Park and is blessed not only with exceptional biodiversity but also spectacular scenery, seasonally high densities of many large mammal species, a feeling of wilderness and remoteness, and a sense of history. There is no better way to explore this magnificent area than on foot.

The camp is set up in the shade of enormous trees at one of a number of campsites on the concession. Comfortable walk-in dome tents with ’eco-loos’ and separate hot bucket showers and accommodate a maximum of eight trailists. At night, lanterns and a crackling fire light the camp and create a convivial atmosphere with a light eco-footprint; guests dine under the stars.

Using the campsite as a base, each day is spent in different parts of the surrounding area, walking along the pathways made over the years by its animal inhabitants and following their tracks. Walks are led by an experienced, armed guide.

Habitats include the life-giving arteries of the Limpopo and Luvuvhu Rivers, both with well developed floodplains and a series of vitally important seasonal pans. Between the two rivers lies a ridge of hills with a network of drainage lines and secret perennial springs to which the area’s game is drawn. Rugged baobab dotted kopjes jut from mopane woodland and endless vistas across palm-studded floodplains, acacia woodland and ethereal riverine forest soothe the soul. To learn more about the Landscapes of the Kruger National Park (WPD Gertenbach) represented in this region, please see the bottom of this page.

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About The Area

The Limpopo Trail is situated 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 area 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.

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A Brief Itinerary

Day 1: Meet your guide at the Luvuvhu River bridge at no later than 14:00. After parking your vehicles, you depart by road or on foot to the trails camp. Settle in at the camp for a safety briefing with your guide, after which you will depart on an Afternoon walk. Return to camp for drinks and/or shower before the evening meal (prepared on an open fire). Relax after dinner and then retire to bed in your assigned tent.

Days 2 and 3: After a light breakfast, head off on foot to explore the surrounding area. The course of the day unfolds dependent on local conditions and sightings, typically though, guests will spend the heat of the day in a shady location with a vantage point. Guests need only carry a comfortable day pack with them.

Day 4: After an early wake-up call with coffee, depart on a short morning walk. Return to camp for a hearty brunch after which you check out and have a transfer to the parking area where your vehicle is parked. The trail ends around 10:00.

Camp Info

  • The trails season runs from 1 April to 31 October , with departures on Mondays and Fridays.
  • Maximum number of trailists is 8, minimum 2; minimum age is 16 (kindly note guests who are over the age of 65 years must supply a medical certificate from their physician).
  • Accommodation: Mobile camp site which reveals the beautiful scenery of the Pafuri region, under the shaded canopies of nyala-berry trees.
    4 canvas dome tents accommodate a maximum of 8 guests. Each tent has 2 proper beds and are pitched under the comfort of shady trees. Each tent has its own eco-toilet. There are 2 bucket showers in camp. Guests dine under the stars, with the enhanced atmosphere of paraffin lamps and an open camp fire.camp
  • Drinks Policy: Drinks are excluded.
  • Electricity & Water: No electricity, only paraffin lamps and an open fire, with borehole water brought in from the main lodge.
  • Laundry Policy: No laundry service is offered on this safari.
  • Temperature & Climate: The concession has mild winters from May to September with occasional chilly evenings; however summers are generally very warm.
  • A SanParks conservation levy (per person, per day) is excluded from the rate and needs to be paid at the gate as you enter Kruger National Park.

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Getting There

  • Drive time to/from Johannesburg: 6 ½ to 7 hours.
  • Drive time to/from Nelspruit: 6 hours.
  • Drive time to/from Phalaborwa: 5 hours.
  • Flight time to/from Johannesburg: 1 hour 45 minutes by charter aircraft (to Tshikondeni landing strip 45 minutes from the lodge) by special arrangement only

Kruger National Park Landscape Types

The Limpopo Trail area ranges over five distinct landscape areas offering unrivalled walking areas and far-ranging vehicle safaris:

  1. KNP Landscape Type No. 28 (Limpopo/Luvuvhu Floodplains). As the name indicates, this landscape occurs on the banks of the Limpopo and Luvuvhu Rivers. When these rivers rise, a blockage takes place above the confluence and because the area is flat, flooding of the land adjacent to the rivers takes place. Silt is deposited and a number of pans in the area are filled. Pan-veld footslopes host a tree savannah dominated by Mopane trees, Umbrella thorns and almost homogeneous stands of Baobab trees in certain areas. The banks of rivers are a closed forest community 20 meters high, dominated by Ana trees and Sycamore figs, with dense undergrowth. The floodplains are home to magnificent Fever-tree forests ranging in height from 6 to 15 metres, bordered by open areas, where the grass can reach a height of 2 meters in mid-summer. This landscape accommodates the largest population of nyala in the KNP. Other species of game that are abundant on these floodplains are bushbuck, duiker, buffalo, kudu, waterbuck, impala and elephant. Baboons and vervet monkeys are plentiful and Nile crocodile are common in the rivers. This landscape also represents the only confirmed habitat of bush pigs in the KNP and with its dense, high trees and water pans it is a paradise for birds – many found nowhere else in South Africa.

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  1. KNP Landscape Type No. 27 (Mixed Bush willow/Mopane woodland). Here, white sand of Quaternary origin mixes with gravel and basalt in a reasonably flat landscape with deep, sandy, well-drained soils supporting an open tree savannah with a large quantity of medium shrubs. Elephant and kudu occur regularly here and rare sable antelope are characteristic of this landscape. Other game species found here in lower densities are zebra, buffalo, eland, impala and steenbok.

 

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  1. KNP Landscape 26 (Mopane Shrubveld on Calcrete). This landscape type is unique, not only to Kruger, but to the whole of South Africa, with its intersected and undulating terrain of tree savannah. The game mostly found here are zebra, kudu, steenbok, Sharpe’s grysbok, nyala, eland and elephant.

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  1. KNP Landscape Type No. 25 (Baobab/Mopane Rugged Veld). This veld is rugged in the true sense of the word as there is a relatively high run-off of rainwater as a result of steep basalt slopes down to the Luvuvhu River. This is an open tree savannah and the dominance of ancient, gigantic baobab trees and mopane shrubs gives the landscape its name. Elephant, buffalo and zebra are the most important game species. Eland and sable antelope are seen occasionally, with impala being quite common. Nyala and kudu are fairly widespread while duiker and steenbok are well represented.

 

  1. KNP Landscape Type No. 16 (Punda Maria Sandveld on Cave Sandstone). Sandstone outcrops extend along the Luvuvhu River, forming prominent and impressive koppies, with sandy plateaus and bottomlands unique to this region of the KNP. These outcrops accommodate vegetation unique to the area, including many rare species, with a tall shrub savannah occurring on the deep sandy soils. Elephant, buffalo and white rhino are the most important animals and kudu are ever-present, along with impala. Steenbok, grysbok and nyala are also regularly found. Due to the hilly nature of the landscape, pairs of klipspringer regularly occur and baboons are plentiful – especially along the rivers.

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Booking Policy

  • Kukummi Safaris’ Terms & Conditions will be sent to you at the time of booking
  • Payment: full pre-payment is required 30 days before arrival, along with written confirmation.
  • Cancellations: 50% of the full tariff if more than 30 days prior to arrival; 75% of the full tariff if less than 30 days prior to arrival; 100% of the full tariff of less than 7 days prior to arrival.
  • Written confirmation (e-mail or fax) of is required for cancellations.
  • Guests will be required to sign an indemnity form on arrival at the lodge.
  • Please ensure that you have adequate travel insurance.