Elephants in the fever tree forest

The Land of Elephants and Baobabs

The Pafuri Triangle — a piece of wilderness in the very northern corner of South Africa’s Kruger National Park — is a land of giants. The trees are huge. The animals are huge. The beauty of the landscape is beyond comprehension.

Elephant eating in PafuriThis elephant looks small in the photo (which, incidentally, was shot from the doorway of my tent at Return Africa’s Pafuri Camp). Trust me though — he’s huge.

I spent three days at the Pafuri Camp, run by Return Africa, in the Makuleke Contractual Park. This section of the Kruger has a fascinating history, which I’ll describe in a future post.

Elephants and Baobabs: Kruger’s Photogenic Giants

I saw so many elephants during this trip and it’s been a struggle for me to narrow down the number of elephant photos I want to share. Same goes for the baobabs: I love these huge, ancient, topsy-turvy trees — which can only be found in the northern part of the Kruger — and I photographed them profusely. So before I go into the whole story of my trip, here are my favorite photos of the giants.

Baobab and truck shadowThis is my favorite baobab photo because you can also see the shadow of our safari vehicle. Note how this tree, which may be more than a thousand years old, dwarfs all of the other trees around it.

Elephant in fever tree forestMy favorite elephant photo, which again makes the elephant look smaller than he really is. This was a special elephant sighting because it happened in Pafuri’s magical fever tree forest. Fever trees, while they don’t compare to baobabs, are majestic in their own way with clouds of lacy green leaves and eerie, green-tinted bark.

Elephants in fever tree forestMore elephants and fever trees.

Baobab with weaver nestsA baobab in the late afternoon sun. The branches are dotted with weaver bird nests.

Baobabs at sunsetBaobab silhouettes at sunset.

Angry elephant in musth.A single male elephant, seen through the back of our truck. The elephant is in musth (pronounced “must”), as you can see from that dark, wet patch next to his eye. Male elephants in musth are particularly moody. He wasn’t too happy about our intrusion onto his road, but he held his temper.

Elephant on the road.We encountered the same elephant on the same stretch of road a couple of hours later. There was a car trailing behind him; the driver was afraid to pass the elephant and had been following along behind for 40 minutes.

The big baobab tree.Sunset at “the big tree”. Apparently this is the largest baobab in Pafuri. See the ant-like people on the bottom right?

Essay climbing the big baobab tree.Ezaya, our guide, demonstrates how to climb the big tree.

Bridge and Mini in the big baobab tree.My colleges Bridget (left) and Mini (right). They climbed the tree but I elected to stay on the ground.

I’ll have more to say about Pafuri soon. In the meantime, feel free to read the posts I wrote about a previous visit to Pafuri in 2011. See here and here and here.

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My stay in Pafuri was courtesy of Return Africa. Opinions expressed are mine.

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  • Reply Wendy C May 26, 2016 at 1:32 pm

    Majestic land.

    • Reply 2summers May 26, 2016 at 3:27 pm

      It really is!

  • Reply autumnashbough May 26, 2016 at 3:13 pm

    What fantastic photos. And yes, I did wonder whether the elephant in front of the fever trees was a juvenile, because it looked so small!

    Does the park have a poaching issue?

    • Reply 2summers May 26, 2016 at 3:29 pm


      Yes, poaching — mainly rhino poaching — is a HUGE problem in Kruger and all over South Africa. Rhinos are being driven toward extinction at an alarming rate.

      • Reply autumnashbough May 26, 2016 at 3:36 pm

        I’ve seen the stats on the rhino poaching and it’s tragic. Is it mainly fueled by Chinese medicine/ superstition? Because it does seem like ivory is on its way out worldwide, so there is hope for the elephants, even as it dies for the rhinos.

        • Reply 2summers May 26, 2016 at 3:55 pm

          Yeah, apparently the demand is mostly in China but I think it’s happening in other Asian countries as well. Rhino horn is thought to be a natural remedy for erectile disfunction and also a cure for cancer. Which is crazy because from I’ve heard, the horns are basically made of hair.

          Elephant poaching doesn’t seem to be a huge issue in SA (at least I never hear about it), but it is still a major problem in East Africa. Elephant poaching increased alarmingly in Tanzania last year. And Kenya was in the news a couple of weeks ago when they rounded up thousands of pounds of illegal ivory and burned it all in a giant pyre, as a way of sending a message to poachers.

          • autumnashbough May 26, 2016 at 6:17 pm

            The plight of the rhino makes me want to drop little parachutes of viagra all over Asia. 🙁 I guess we just have to hope the internet educates the populace.

            I saw pictures of the ivory pyre. Impressive and yet so, so tragic.

  • Reply Eugenia A Parrish May 26, 2016 at 7:39 pm

    Can you answer an old question of ours? Is it pronounced bay-oh-bab, bow-bab, or bow-bahb?

    • Reply 2summers May 26, 2016 at 8:57 pm

      Very good question. Before moving here, I always said Bah-oh-bab, with a short a in the first syllable. But most South Africans say Bae-oh-bab, with a long a. So now I’ve adopted that pronunciation.

      • Reply Eugenia A Parrish May 27, 2016 at 4:21 pm

        Thank you! That’s been driving me nuts for years. Unfortunately I have yet to hear it in person.

        • Reply 2summers May 27, 2016 at 5:04 pm

          Ha! Well I have no idea if I’ve told you the right thing 🙂

  • Reply UnderAnAfricanSun May 27, 2016 at 12:27 pm

    Beautiful photos Heather, the north of Kruger is too often overlooked and I think it is the most stunning part of the park!

    • Reply 2summers May 27, 2016 at 5:04 pm

      I agree!

  • Reply Sine May 27, 2016 at 5:04 pm

    Great pics,and thanks for the pronounciating tip.

    • Reply 2summers May 27, 2016 at 5:05 pm

      Well hopefully I’m right 🙂

  • Reply Lani May 28, 2016 at 11:49 am

    Magic! My favorite baobab photo was the one at sunset. I can’t believe how much you get to travel, Heather!

    • Reply 2summers May 28, 2016 at 1:45 pm

      I like that one too. I know, I’m really lucky 🙂

  • Reply Di Brown May 30, 2016 at 12:50 pm

    Fabulous pics, lovely words, great area.

    • Reply 2summers May 30, 2016 at 3:02 pm

      Thanks Di! Have you been to Pafuri? You’d love it.

  • Reply Jaina June 1, 2016 at 4:47 pm

    Stunning photos of a beautiful place!

    • Reply 2summers June 2, 2016 at 10:00 am


  • Reply mvschulze June 3, 2016 at 4:40 am

    Wow! 🙂

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