Tip For Trip - Limpopo
Limpopo is a land of dramatic contrasts characterised by hot savanna plains and mist-clad mountains, age-old indigenous forests and cycads alongside latter-day plantations, and ancient mountain fortresses and the luxury of contemporary infrastructure and modern-day facilities. Steeped in history, Limpopo celebrates a rich cultural heritage, and at many archaeological sites the mysteries of the past and ancient peoples are still being unearthed. The present tranquillity of the province belies a turbulent past, to which many monuments and museums attest. Much of the land, particularly in the Kruger National Park and other game and nature reserves is unspoilt, providing sanctuary to large numbers of game.
The Nylsvley Nature Reserve boasts one of the greatest concentrations of waterfowl and bushveld birds in South Africa. More than 400 species frequent the area. The Mokopane
vicinity has several nature reserves. The Arend Dieperink Museum features a fine cultural-historical collection and the Makapan caves are notable for their fossils. The caves are being developed into an archaeological site. Makapan Valley is an extension of the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site. The Makapansgat caves and limeworks near Mokopane represent an archaeological site of global importance. The Thabazimbi
district has a large concentration of private game reserves and is one of the fastestgrowing ecotourism areas in the country. The Marakele National Park is home to some rare yellowwood and cedar trees and the world’s largest colony of Cape vultures. It is also a leader in the conservation of the black rhino outside of the Kruger National Park and the KwaZulu-Natal parks. Bela-Bela
is known for its hot springs. There are also a number of game reserves and leisure resorts in the area. The Waterberg range is rich in indigenous trees, streams, springs, wetlands and bird life. Cliffs known as the ‘Palace of the Vultures’ harbour a large breeding colony of Cape vultures. Modimolle
is the region’s main town.
The Bakone Malapa Open-Air Museum outside Polokwane
is a traditional Northern Sotho kraal. Men and women practise traditional skills such as making baskets, clay pots, furniture and utensils, and preparing hides. Zion City at Moria near Polokwane is the headquarters of the Zion Christian Church, which attracts more than a million pilgrims every Easter. Polokwane hosts a great variety of museums and art galleries.
The Mapungubwe Archaeological Site, situated 80 km west of Musina
, lies within the boundaries of the Mapungubwe National Park. It is one of the richest of its kind in Africa and is a world heritage site. Excavations in the 1930s uncovered a royal graveyard, which included a number of golden artefacts, including the famous gold foil rhinoceros. The Schoemansdal Voortrekker Town and Museum, west of Makhado
, is built on the site of an original Voortrekker village and depicts their lifestyle between 1848 and 1852. Also worth visiting is the Big Tree in the Mutale Municipality, the Tshatshingo potholes; the mystical lake of Dzivhafundudzi; and the holy forest and waterfalls at Phiphidi.
The Modjadji Nature Reserve, north of Tzaneen
, is named after the legendary Rain Queen, Modjadji, who is believed to have settled in the area early in the 16th century. The reserve encompasses the world’s largest concentration of the cycad species Encephalartos transvenosus, also known as the Modjadji cycad. The Hans Merensky Nature Reserve and Mineral Spa on the southern banks of the Great Letaba River supports a large variety of game. At the Tsonga Kraal Open-Air Museum, arts, crafts and traditional huts reflect the Tsonga lifestyle of 100 years ago. The Kruger National Park (northern section) is one of South Africa’s major tourist attractions. The park is home to a large number and wide variety of amphibians, reptiles and birds, as well as 147 mammal species, including the Big Five. Thulamela, in the northern part of the Kruger National Park, was opened to guided groups in June 1997. This followed seven years of archaeological excavations, which brought to light the skeletons of two ancient royals and a multitude of artefacts, including gold bangles, beads and a double gong.
On the way to the Kruger National Park, visitors can enjoy the wildlife experiences at Manyeleti
, home of the Big Five. Adventurers can attempt mountainclimbing at the Mangwazi Nature Reserve and enjoy the Mapulaneng Trail at Zoeknog. The Inyaka Dam at Bushbuckridge
is also worth a visit.
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