Which three countries would you associate with Crooks Corner? Now that would be a good pub quiz question for anyone with a keen interest in Africa.
I was standing at a spot in the far north-eastern Kruger National Park, gazing out over the wide river bed of the mighty Limpopo River. So this is the infamous Crooks Corner, with Mozambique on the opposite bank and Zimbabwe just a few kilometres to the north. Crooks Corner was so-called as it offered smugglers, poachers and general crooks of the time the chance to jump ship across the border to Mozambique or Zimbabwe at a moment’s notice to avoid South African jurisdiction. I bet it was interesting when the Limpopo was in flood, I thought, but let’s not dwell on realities. Crooks Corner may not have been a great place for innocent folk to hang out, but it does drum up an evocative image of African exploration and frontier life in the ‘Wild North-East’.
The most northerly section of the Kruger National Park is now a designated private concession, called Makuleke, managed principally by Wilderness Safaris who run the lovely Pafuri Camp on the Luvuvhu River. The northern Kruger is historically not thought to have as plentiful big game as the southern Kruger, which to be honest is true. However, the game-viewing is better and more varied than I expected, and guests I joined on game drives had seen the big five in their 3 day visit!
However, the Pafuri region is known for its diverse and spectacular scenery. I was not allowed nearly enough time to soak up the incredible scenery of Lanner Gorge, where the Luvuvhu has cut a winding gorge through the sandstone mountains, or to explore the spectacular Fever Tree Forest close to Crooks Corner which stretches further and wider than any other Fever Tree grove I have seen. Then there are the river courses – the Luvuvhu and Limpopo, both of which offer beautiful riverine drives where the game is especially plentiful and the birdlife spectacular.
For those looking for an adventure on foot, Pafuri is one of the best places in South Africa to consider. Wilderness Safaris offer a fantastic 3 day walking trail which allows you to appreciate the region from a different experience, perhaps exploring some areas that are difficult to access by vehicle.
I found the Pafuri region a refreshing change from the rather predictable (to me!) private game reserves further south and would highly recommend it to anyone seeking a more in depth, wild and remote Kruger Park experience.