There was a corner for Crooks in the Kruger Park

In the remote north eastern corner of the Kruger National Park there is magical place with an interesting story to be told. It’s a small piece of land where the winding Limpopo and the meandering Luvhuvhu Rivers meet. These two rivers form the natural boarders of three countries - South Africa, Mozambique and Zimbabwe.

Today, to get there from our Makuleke Camp you will drive past giant baobabs and a magnificent fever tree forest.  Along the way, you are likely to meet eland, nyala, baboons, warthog and numerous birds like marabou stork. The river serves as a drinking hole for elephants and buffalo and is home to river dwellers like hippos and crocodiles.

Elephant enjoying the water a Crooks Corner (c) Herbert Beuckle

This remote and beautiful piece of land is called Crooks Corner and wasn’t always as serene as it is today. The ideal spot to enjoy sundowners and marvel at the breathtaking scenery.  When the Limpopo River is dry we wander out onto the sands and learn the secrets of elephants – that just because a river looks arid from the surface, does not mean that there isn’t water beneath.

To understand how the name Crooks Corner came about we need to go back in time. One hundred years ago if you visited this area it would look very similar to how it appears today, an untamed natural wilderness, where animals roamed and paid no attention to international borders.

Now imagine if you will that you are not exactly a model citizen, you are a gun runner, a poacher, a fugitive. A crook. You needed a place to hide out or move goods in and out of the country. This was your ideal location to hide from the law. Removed from civilization, lawless and wild. This was the underbelly where others with underhanded dealings met.

Rangers and law enforcers weren’t having the wool pulled over their eyes, after all, no secret hideaway can stay secret for long.  A safe haven near three international borders also had an advantage, as it was easy to hop across the river whenever police from one particular country approached, for fear of breaching international treaties as long as you could make it to the other side, no one could touch you. You could swim away from the law.

(c) Ruth Welti

But good triumphed over evil and the rangers and police successfully rid this beautiful corner of its seedy residents. Returning it to its rightful inhabitants, from storks to hippos.

With the Crooks gone, we can now enjoy this beautiful corner of the Kruger Park for what it was meant to be – one of the many spots for tourists to appreciate the beauty of nature and wildlife.