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Parks & Wilderness Areas of Limpopo


Parks & Wilderness Areas of South Africa

The nature of South Africa's conserved areas varies enormously. Many are rugged wilderness areas that are the preserve of hardy mountaineers. Others, particularly those around the dams and populated areas, are easily accessible to all.

There are wonderful botanical gardens and green corridors in the big cities. Some are playgrounds or places to sit with binoculars and watch the birds and the world go by. Most boast captivating landscapes and geological formations or host unique flora or fauna. Many are devoted to preserving rock art and other examples of the country’s rich cultural heritage.

It’s the big game parks that attract the most visitors. The Kruger National Park and KwaZulu-Natal reserves are perhaps the best known of this type, but there are numerous other reserves in Mpumalanga, Limpopo, North West and Eastern Cape where you can see the Big 5.

Although game viewing is also popular in the Northern and Western Cape, the reserves in these provinces are as much about the spectacular scenery, open spaces, starry skies and extraordinary spring flower displays.

Many of the reserves are steeped in history. Historic battlefields are a feature of many of the reserves in KwaZulu-Natal. The province’s Drakensberg Mountains are a veritable outdoor gallery, home to the largest collection of bushman rock art in the world. There is also a high concentration of magnificent paintings in caves throughout the Cederberg Wilderness area. Sites like Mapungubwe National Park are as famous for their archaeological treasures as for their natural heritage.  So, whaterver your interests, there is bound to be something to suite your taste.

Articles & Blogs

Northern Highlight

Valda 5:59pm 20 Nov

Words Santi van Niekerk, pics Johannes van Niekerk

It’s 05h00 at Crook’s Corner and we have the Pafuri area to ourselves for a few hours before the throng of visitors arrive. We are overdosing on the quiet solitude of this beautiful area in northern Kruger and enjoying this privilege thanks to a reservation at the newly opened Pafuri Border Camp.

The soft greys of dawn, infused with warm colours, announce the imminent daybreak. As the bright orange orb peeks shyly over the horizon, an African fish eagle pierces the silence and signals the dawn chorus to welcome a new day in...

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Outlook / Lookout

Valda 7:47pm 11 Oct

By Romi Boom

Lured by exciting developments at Marakele, Wild revisited this national park in the heart of the Waterberg. Like us, you’ll be captivated by the breathtaking scenery, and come back for more!

Five Reasons to Visit

• A Big Five, malaria-free destination, 2½ hours’ drive from Gauteng. The park, as its Tswana name suggests, is a sanctuary for an impressive array of wildlife.

• Marakele is part savanna bushveld, part Kalahari, and part Okavango swamps. 

• Situated in the transitional zone between the dry western and moister...

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Walking the Kruger

Valda 9:55pm 13 Sep

By Petro Kotzé

“You are not here to see the big animals but to listen to the silence. To see and to smell. To rest and become quiet.” Seven of us are standing in a solemn half-circle around him, bathed in the shade of an impressive wild fig. The heat is heavy, and trickles of sweat pour down my back.

But, I stand. We all do. We are listening intently, almost like he is delivering a sermon, except Louis Lemmer is clad in ranger khaki. His gun is casually resting against his side. “Stay together, and if you are approached by an animal, don’t run.”

We are about to walk...

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Mountains of Water

Valda 8:40pm 12 Jul

Words & pics Justin Fox

Wild, rugged, with dramatic heights, clear streams and undulating bushveld – the Waterberg is a little-known corner of South Africa, with plenty of reasons to visit. Justin Fox went exploring.

The Waterberg is one of Southern Africa’s most beguiling mountain ranges. Stretching across Limpopo province – about two hours’ north of Pretoria – it straddles a vast area of 15 000 km2. Its southern escarpment presents a line of soaring crags dominated by the Seven Sisters, its central plateau comprises wide-open grasslands and the...

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Hunting and eco-tourism in the Pafuri/Makuleke concession

Valda 9:55pm 2 Nov

By Chris Davies   

We need to visit the places we want to protect; if we don’t there’s no incentive for those who own them to protect them for us.

Last year I spent some time in northern Kruger’s Makuleke Contractual Park. The name is relatively new, and you may know it better as Pafuri – the narrow strip of land at the very top of Kruger, right on the border with Zimbabwe....

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Wild Card Magazine 10:30am 23 Jan

Over the summer school holidays when the Kruger National Park was fully booked for weeks on end, we managed to relax away from the crowds. Shimuwini Bush Camp lies on the Letaba River and there are just 15 chalets. An atmosphere of peace and quiet reigns. Guests watch the comings and goings of hippo and waterbuck from the stoep – the birdlife is also plentiful. Shimuwini is a camp for bush afficionados who don't need the trappings of a large resort; there's no shop, restaurant or cellphone reception (although there is hotspot under a large jackalberry if you get desperate). The camp offers...

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Pafuri - Finale

Polakow Photography 6:45am 3 Jan

Pafuri - Finale

Three concessionaires are currently operating in the Pafuri triangle: Ecotraining (, Wilderness Safaris ( and The Outpost (   

Until recently, one could also enjoy the splendour of much of the concession area from the SANParks Nyalaland wilderness trail – from across the Luvuvhu – until the floods of January 2013 damaged the...

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Pafuri – Part 7

Polakow Photography 6:45am 27 Dec

Pafuri – Part 7

There are several noteworthy landmarks in the Mukuleke concession - we discuss three of particular interest here. The first (top panel) is the spectacular Lanner Gorge. The Gorge is approximately 11km long, and has Cretaceous gravels at the top and Permian shales at the bottom. In between are Jurassic and Triassic sandstones. Dinosaur fossils are abundant within the sandstones. Access to the Gorge lookout is limited to a handful of concessionaires in the Pafuri triangle, and South of the Luvuvhu (via foot) - to participants of the SANParks wilderness...

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Pafuri – Part 6

Polakow Photography 6:45am 20 Dec

Pafuri – Part 6

The Makuleke concession was recognised as a Ramsar listing on the 22 May 2007 – assuming the importance and associated protection of a wetland of international importance. The Convention on Wetlands, signed in Ramsar, Iran, in 1971, is an intergovernmental treaty that provides the framework for national action and international co-operation for the conservation and wise use of wetlands.

Prominent wetland features of the Pafuri triangle include riverine forests, riparian flood plain forests, flood plain grasslands, river channels and flood pans....

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Pafuri – Part 5

Polakow Photography 6:45am 13 Dec

Pafuri – Part 5

Many attractions lure the intrepid naturalist to the Pafuri triangle - not the least of which is the rich flora. The area has both semi-arid vegetation including many large baobabs as well as rich riverine forests with large Nyala trees. Also impressive are the aggregations of fever trees. A visit to a fever tree forest is always a surrealistic excursion, as one is transported into a pensive world with luminous green fever tree trunks as far as the eye can see and a discernible transformation in the now stippled and humid bush ambience.

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Pafuri – Part 4

Polakow Photography 6:45am 6 Dec

Pafuri – Part 4

What makes Pafuri special is its incredible biodiversity. Due to its proximity to Zimbabwe and Mozambique, the area was heavily poached by the time the Makuleke people reclaimed their land in 1998. The area now supports a healthy density of nyala and impala – and carnivores are naturally attracted to the same. The area is also known for sighting of the scarcer bush pig and Eland. The permanent waters of the Levuvhu make for big game concentration in the dry winter months. The region is well-known for large herds of elephant and buffalo being resident...

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Pafuri - Part 3

Polakow Photography 6:45am 29 Nov

Pafuri - Part 3

The Pafuri triangle is probably best known for its diversity of birdlife – with over 250 species being recorded in most years. Many bird species are endemic to the triangle and many serious birders are attracted to the area for this exact reason. The common targets are typically the reclusive Pel's Fishing-Owl, the rare Racket-tailed Roller (6 breeding pairs are currently known to exist in the concession) and the Three-banded Courser. Serious twitchers will also be looking for Böhm's and Mottled Spinetails, the Crimson-breasted Shrike, the Southern...

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Pafuri - Part 2

Polakow Photography 6:45am 22 Nov

Pafuri - Part 2

If one heads north from Phalaborwa through the Kruger park, one faces approximately 200km of merciless Mopaneveld before reaching the Pafuri Triangle and the Makuleke concession. Much as the Tsetse fly was responsible for the saviour of many wilderness areas, this barrier of unrelenting monotonous vegetation keeps many tourists from venturing so far north. Even hardened botany enthusiasts have been known to have apoplectic fits of boredom and despair while running the Mopane gauntlet.  Of course, one can enter the park at Punda Maria gate or...

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Polakow Photography 5:55am 15 Nov

North of the Levuvhu River and South of the Limpopo comprises a remarkable area of approximately 240 square kilometres. While only 1% of the area of the Kruger National Park, the land contains 75% of the park's total diversity. This region belongs to the Makuleke tribe, and the Makuleke community regained the land in 1998 after a restitution of land rights process. The area is commonly referred to as the Pafuri triangle. The triangle is a wedge of land created by the confluence of the Limpopo and Luvuvhu Rivers at Crook's Corner, which forms a border with Zimbabwe along the Limpopo River....

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Year in the Wild: Mapungubwe National Park

shane 8:36am 22 Apr

By Scott Ramsay

Put yourself in school teacher Jerry van Graan’s shoes. It’s New Year’s Day 1933 and you have just discovered the richest treasure in Southern Africa. Several kilograms of ancient golden jewellery and ornaments lie at your feet. You have two choices: keep it for yourself or hand it over to experts for preservation.

Here, in a remote corner of South Africa on the border of...

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What a view!

Nightjar Travel 11:40am 23 Nov

Southern Africa’s first king once enjoyed this magnificent view. The photo is taken from Mapungubwe Hill, most famous perhaps for the little golden rhino that was discovered here when the site was excavated in 1932. It is one of many remnants of a civilization that prospered in this area between 900 and 1270, farming their cattle and trading with people from as far afield as Asia. 

The important archaeological site is now protected and forms part of Mapungubwe National Park in the far north of South Africa. The area is not only rich in cultural history; its breath-taking...

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