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Limpopo travel guide
Limpopo Province sits right up in the north, bordering the countries of Botswana, Zimbabwe and Mozambique. It’s a province of wildlife and baobab trees, exotic fruit and the wide Limpopo River. Here you can explore the less touristy northern portion of the Kruger National Park, as well as luxury private reserves. The Phalaborwa gate to the Kruger National Park is just 2 km from the town centre.
Limpopo’s mountains and lakes form the sites of ancient civilisations, hot springs and the mystical tribespeople of Modjadji, the Rain Queen. The Great North Road from Pretoria to Zimbabwe runs through Limpopo, long settled by the artistic Venda, North Sotho and Tsonga peoples. For malaria-free game viewing, head straight to the peaceful Waterberg. For history going back millions of years, explore the Makapansgat Valley, with its baboons and vervet monkeys.
In and around the Kruger National Park:
- Sabi Sand Game Reserve - a private reserve known for having enormous numbers of game and therefore sightings of the Big Five are practically guaranteed. There are lots of five-star luxury camps and reserves within Sabi Sand, ready to pamper guests with elegance, great food and highly qualified guides.
- Timbavati Private Game Reserve – was once famous for the white lions that were found here. Timbavati offers excellent game viewing and some really magnificent lodges and guest houses. Although game drives are the easiest way to see the most animals, you can also experience the thrill of the bush by doing a bush walk, foot safari or wilderness trail.
- Thornybush Private Game Reserve - Exclusive lodges offer intimate safari experiences, tailored to needs ranging from family holidays to conferences. Enjoy dinner around the fire after a rewarding day of game viewing.
- Hoedspruit – home to the Balule Nature Reserve and the Moholoholo Wildlife
Rehabilitation Centre and Cheetah Projects. Stop off at the popular Bombyx
Mori Sill Factory on the road to the Blyde River Canyon.
Other nature reserves:
- Waterberg District – these fern-filled mountains have been named a biosphere reserve by UNESCO. There are at least five game and nature reserves to base yourself in. The Welgevonden Private Game Reserve, Marakele National Park and Mabula Game Reserve are all fantastic places to immerse yourself in the bush, among stunning rivers and valleys, where members of the Big Five roam in their numbers. You might even pick up an artefact dating back to the Stone Age.
- The Soutpansberg – Your best place to see incredible upside-down baobab trees. Look out for elephants munching the leaves. The Soutpansberg stretches 130 km from west to east through the Northern Limpopo region. In some of the rural villages you will see expert Venda and Tsonga people working on their famous woodcarving, pottery and textiles.
Up in the green mountain ranges:
- Tzaneen – Beautiful green Tzaneen is set among the mountains. Foodies must visit the decadent nougat factory at Agatha, then pamper themselves with delectable teatime treats at the Coach House.
- Modjadji Cycad Nature Reserve – A belt of mist has created a strangely fascinating cycad tree forest with some of the oldest cycads on earth. Close by is the kraal of the secretive Balobedi tribe, a matriarchal society ruled by successive rain queens called Modjadji (only women are allowed to enter the homestead).
- Haenertsberg – A cosy mountain village that’s big on atmosphere. After your day of hiking, kloofing, trout fishing and mountain biking, stop at the local pub, the Atholl Arms. Meet locals and fellow travellers as you play chess or backgammon, sip wine or listen to live jazz. The annual Spring Fair draws quite a crowd and turns the village into a hive of activity.
- Magoebaskloof - The magic of Magoebaskloof is flaunted during the Azalea Festival, when the valleys explode with colour. If you miss it, not to worry, as the untamed beauty of these forests and waterfalls will reward a hike at any other time.
African cultural experiences:
- Mapungubwe Cultural Landscape – An absolutely stunning World Heritage Site that was Africa’s first kingdom. You can see remnants of a highly sophisticated ancient civilisation that remained undiscovered until recent times.
- Makapansgat Caves – North of Mokopane is one of the most significant and exciting paleontological sites in the world. In this once marshy wetland, fossil evidence was found of human-like primates who lived in limestone caves. You can explore the cave system, best done with a guide.