The River Levuvhu winds it’s way trough, what is in many places, a forgotten wilderness in the northeast corner of Limpopo Province. The area of dense bush where this river joins the mighty River Limpopo also marks the spot where three countries, South Africa, Zimbabwe and Mozambique meet and share a single border.
Historically this area was known as Crooks Corner where, many generations ago, adventurous but lawless drifters could find not only a refuge, but a fantastic hunting ground, where these adventurers knew that if they need to escape from the long arm of the law, they simply need to quickly hop over one of the three borders, which one depending on the nationality of the officials chasing them on any given day.
This was wild country, stretching to the River Save in the north, and east from the Kruger Park to Massingir in Mozambique.
For generations it has also been part of the long-standing route for large herds of migrating elephants, which included the large bull elephants with their impressive tusks. It was here the legendary hunter Harry Manners, whose main camp was situated east of the northern part of the Kruger Park, shot an elephants with tusks weighing 187 pounds. While elephants carrying tusks of 80lbs was more the rule rather than the exception. It should therefore come as no surprise that big game hunters and other adventurers were drawn to this game-rich part of Africa to encounter the huge numbers of game animals and experience other adventures. As serious big game hunters from around the world flocked to this district along the River Levuvhu, the region also became known as the Ivory Trail. Wether they came here to hunt commercially or simple to fulfil their personal ambitions, it was always the elephants and the huge bull buffalos that were the most sought after game.
Harry Manners proudly wrote about his biggest elephant in his book “Kambuku” while T.V. Bullpin immortalised the hunter Bvakenya Barnard in his stories of the Ivory Trail. When Barnard travelled north he would make camp at Baobab Hill overlooking the River Levuvhu. Here he could ford the river on his way further north to Makhuleke and Crooks Corner.
This part of South Africa is also the territory of the Venda people. The Venda came down from the north and settled here in the early 18th century. They are a fascinating people with a joyful and exciting folklore, who settled in this district with it’s densely wooded hills. forests of wild fig, marula fruit trees, lala palms, creepers and ferns.
It is here, next to the north east corner of the Kruger Park that you will find Makuya. Until very recently this game rich “Big Five” district had seen no hunting since 1996. A nearly 50km long stretch of the River Levuvhu forms a natural border with the Kruger, and the animals are free to move back and forth across the river as they always have done so.
Anybody who has a dream of hunting in “the olde Africa” simply has to make the journey to this part of the Ivory Trail. From Baobab Hill, where the main camp has been established, you will still find and relive the spirit of Bvakenya Barnard, when you let your eyes wander over the banks of the River Levuvhu, where huge crocodiles lie in the sun, then gaze further out over the distant hill of Crooks Corner.
In 2008 Makuya Safaris and Limpopo Travel signed a co-operation agreement with the Makuya Traditional Council, to work together to develop tourism, nature conservation and hunting in this magnificent district.
We have been very satisfied with this co-operation, which has also been of great importance to the Makuya people, strengthening them economically both from their share of the income from trophy fees and because of the jobs that have been created for many of their people.
The district is totally undisturbed bush, with no human settlement of any kind. Apart with the very limited number of hunts that have been carried out between 2008 - 2011, no other hunts have taken place since 2006, so you can expect trophies of the highest quality.
As far as elephants are concerned, trophies of between 53 and 80 pounds have been taken on our hunts, so if you are prepared to put in the footwork you will have an excellent chance of finding a really good bull. A research project is being carried out in the Kruger Park , which involves fitting collars to a small number of elephants. Should any of these elephants be seen in the Makuya reserve that will of course be given protected status. It should be noted that these collars were fitted to a random selection of animals, as the study is based on the whole population, and not the biggest and oldest bulls. We are just as interested in the results of the study as the park’s researchers, which is why we work in co-operation with them whenever time allows.
Buffalo trophy quality is also high. with bulls with a 40” spread being relatively easy to find, and trophies of between 44 - 45” and even as big as 48 inches being seen in the district. There are also good populations of other game animals here, nyala and kudu in particular producing trophies of very high quality.
The annual shooting quota is set in close co-operation with the Nature Conservation Council and their wildlife biologists to ensure both the populations of animals and the quality of the trophies produced remain at the same high level. Together with the Makuya people we are working to ensure a focus on the environment and the sustainable use of the districts resources is maintained. Read more about the Makuya people here!
The camp is beautifully situated on Baobab Hill, high above the River Levuvhu, with fantastic views over the Kruger park and the surrounding bush.
It is a classical tented camp of a very good standard. There are a total of 7 large, well-furnished tents, all with private bathroom and toilet, and a terrace over views over the bush. Four of the tents have been set up “two by two” and have a large shared terrace and a small tea-kitchen, making then perfect for families or groups of good friends.