Luvuvhu (4 Nights): A challenging Kruger 4×4 Trail
Transfrontier Parks & Reserves, Greater Kruger National Park
The Luvuvhu Trail is the ideal Kruger 4×4 trail, running from Phalaborwa to Pafuri, through the Limpopo provincial reserves of Letaba Ranch and Makuya Reserve which form part of the area known as ‘Greater Kruger National Park’. Enjoy four nights and five days of camping along river beds, 4×4 off-road adventures over a wide range of topographies, and experiencing a variety of wildlife. Campsites forming part of the trail are unfenced and located in the bush.
Trailists need to be fully self-sufficient with low-range, high-clearance 4×4 vehicles (soft-riders can’t get through this territory). Bring your own camping equipment, food and drinks (no water is provided for cooking or drinking). The lead guide has his own vehicle, and 2-way radios are provided for all vehicles on the trail.
You will also be required to arrange your own accommodation for the night before the trail begins at a location that will allow sufficient time to get to the meeting point.
The terrain is such that it is suited only to off-road 4×4 vehicles with off-road trailers, must be equipped with low range transmission and have good ground clearance. 4×4 “soft roaders” or vehicles with low profile tyres are not suitable. Vehicles should be given a long distance service before the trail.
Equipment and Supplies:
No camping equipment is supplied.
Trailists must for safety considerations sleep in a tent.
Trailists must be totally self sufficient for the duration of the trail. This includes all fuel, food, water, firewood, camping gear, cooking utensils, cutlery and crockery etc.
No waste may be burned or left in the Park therefore you should have strong plastic bags available to manage waste effectively.
Where to Stay:
Feedback from people who have done this trail is that it’s best enjoyed if suitable accommodation has been booked close to the start and end points so that no-one’s rushing arrival or departure. These are the options we recommend:
Before the trail starts: Mtomeni Safari Camp, Letaba Ranch
After the trail ends: Mutale Falls in Makuya park, Awelani Lodge at Pafuri Gate
For an independent review of the trail, read Patrick Cruywagen’s SA 4×4 article here.
Depart from Phalaborwa at 12h00. We follow the main road and 20km further enter the Limpopo provincial reserve of Letaba Ranch, a section of the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park (there is no fence between Kruger National Park and Letaba Ranch).
Experience “Africa” as we slowly grind along the off- road tracks through this virgin bush travelling in a northerly direction. The route takes us past various water holes in order to maximise our game viewing opportunities, and on to our overnight campsite on the banks of the Baderoukwe River. Because there are no amenities at the campsites, you will have the opportunity to use the full range of your outdoor camping equipment.
Depart after breakfast and follow the tracks to the confluence of the Great Letaba and Little Letaba Rivers where we will stop for lunch.
The route will now take us up river to our camp site which is situated on the banks of the Great Letaba River. Who knows which of the “sounds of the wild” will accompany you to sleep? Will it be the laugh of hyena, trumpeting of elephant or the whistle of the tiny scops owl?
Exit the exciting Letaba Ranch section, and slowly make our way along the Little Letaba River. Although we are technically outside the Park, we will however have to keep a watchful eye out for Elephant and Buffalo as we slowly make the steep descent into the wide and sandy river bed. “Plough” through thick sand while trying to keep momentum, as we follow the Kruger National Park boundary before we have to climb up the steep ascent to exit the river bed.
4×4 tracks will take us all along the Kruger fence, before we stop for a well deserved rest and lunch in the bush. After lunch the route takes us through a couple of traditional African Shangaan Villages, before we cross the Luvuvhu river and arrive at the foothills of the Tshamavudzi Mountain range.
We enter the wild Limpopo reserve of Makuya Park, a sector of the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park and carefully follow the rough tracks down into the Luvuvhu River Valley to our overnight campsite on the banks of the Luvuvhu River (no amenities).
The early sounds of nature and the whiff of fresh coffee will undoubtedly tease you out of your tent! Depart after breakfast, and follow the off- road 4×4 tracks in a northerly direction along the Luvuvhu river.
We will stop for lunch under the shady trees that line the river bank, visit the famous “World’s View” before reaching our camp site which is once again situated on the banks of the Luvuvhu River (limited ablution facilities).
We continue our off- road 4×4 adventure journey across the foothills of the Tshamavudzi Mountain range to the Mutale River. We cross the Mutale River on its riverbed (no bridge) and end our adventure at the Kruger National Park’s Pafuri Gate.
The Letaba Ranch sector, an extension of Kruger National Park, is historically known for its Big 5 sightings, big herds of Elephant and Buffalo, African Wild Dog, ample plains game and abundant bird life. The Makuya Park sector with its amazing topography and with only the Luvuvhu river between itself and Kruger National Park is one of the undiscovered gems of the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park.
Ethos of the trail
The purpose of the Trails is to afford trailists an intimate encounter with the wild-side of this remote area. Your guide will, within reason, adjust the pace of the journey to accommodate the group’s interests but trailists are reminded that the distances and topography of the area are challenging. Remember too that “the sun waits for no-one” and setting up camp in the dark is not ideal.
You are embarking on a “wilderness experience” and the privilege of encountering special game viewing moments needs to be mentioned. It is the holistic experience of travelling through this remote area, feeling its solitude and witnessing its recovery that will imbue you with the spirit of “bygone pioneers”.
Conditions during the summer months can be very hot and humid with temperatures exceeding 40 degrees. Winter nights can be very chilly with temperatures dropping to around 6 degrees. Participants on the trail must be well prepared for the climatic conditions and should be reasonably fit.
Also recommended: The Luvuvhu 6 Night 4×4 Trail
Our 6 night Luvuvhu trail provides more time to rest and relax in the bush, and enjoy the environment, especially in Makuya Park. The itinerary includes 2 nights south, and 4 nights in the north.