RETURNAfrica works in partnership with local communities in the wilderness areas where we operate. In most cases, it is the communities that own the land (through various land claims), while the company is the operating partner assisting in the commercial running of the camp or the activity on offer.
Until their removal by the apartheid government in 1969, the Makuleke people lived in scattered villages between the Luvuvhu and Limpopo Rivers along South Africa’s northeastern frontier with Zimbabwe and Mozambique. This is the area that was to become – following the ejection of the people – the Pafuri region of the Kruger Park.
After a three-decade struggle during which they suffered severe hardship, the Makulekes regained ownership of this prime piece of African wilderness (one with so many species of trees, plants, birds, insects, fish and mammals that it is rumoured to contain more than three quarters of Kruger's biodiversity). Despite an enduring attachment to the land, the Makuleke's decided not to resettle the area. Instead, they left it as a contract park, the Makuleke Contractual Park, within the wider Kruger wildlife system. Today, they are relying on a responsible form of nature tourism to remedy the negative effects that the forced removal had on their livelihoods. RETURNAfrica is proud to be the partner of the Makuleke community in this endeavour. Together we have created a suite of tourism experiences such as the Pafuri Walking Trail, Pafuri Camp and Baobab Hill Bush House that celebrate both the rugged beauty of one of the world’s few remaining wild places and the steadfast spirit of its people. It is a partnership based on many years of friendship and solidarity. Part of any visit to Pafuri is learning more about the rich traditions and culture of the Makuleke people, and guests will have the opportunity to visit the local village and learn more about their fascinating history.
RETURNAfrica also works with the community on various development projects to upgrade infrastructure and facilities in the region.