Leopard in a tree

An Aardwolf

A baboon eating some fruit

A traditionally dressed Bantwane woman

A giant boabab tree

A Buffalo

Relaxing Crocodiles

The road to Kranskop

A pair of lionesses

The Olifants hiking trail


See Also: Mpumalanga | Western Cape | Gauteng | North West Province | Eastern Cape

Known as the ‘Great North’, Limpopo province is home to ancient lands and pre-historic secrets. This is home to Modjadji, the fabled Rain Queen; The Stone Age and Iron age relics of Makapansgat Valley and the treasures of Mapungubwe.

Straddling the northern Kruger Park, Limpopo province boasts wildlife safaris, nature trails – untamed Africa at its finest. This is the land of wide-open bushveld, big-sky country, the ever-present thorn tree and the mystical baobab tree.

Overview

South Africa’s northernmost province, Limpopo borders onto Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Botswana thus making it the ideal gateway to Africa.

The Limpopo province celebrates a rich cultural heritage and at many archaeological sites the mysteries of the past and ancient peoples are still being unearthed. Historians reveal that the first black Africans moved across the Limpopo (into what became known as South Africa) before 300 AD.

Climate Limpopo is renowned for its hot, yet pleasant summers and dry winters.

The weather is characterised by almost year-round sunshine. It can get very hot in summer (October – March), with temperatures rising to 27ºC (80,6 ºF) and, sometimes, even touching the mid-30s Celsius (mid-90s Fahrenheit).

Getting to know Limpopo Province

Biodiversity

South of Limpopo are the Soutpansberg mountains, South Africa’s northernmost mountain range and one of the most diverse habitats in the country. There are 340 indigenous tree species in this region, an abundance of animal life and the world’s highest concentration of leopard. Ancient, gigantic baobabs (‘upside-down trees’) guard vast expanses of mountains, bushveld, indigenous forests and cycads.

Tourism Regions

The Limpopo Province is divided into four regions:

The Capricorn Region:
The Capricorn region stretches from the Ysterberg, all along the foothills of the lush Wolkberg, to the tropic of Capricorn in the north.

The Bushveld Region:
The Waterberg Mountains stretch along more than 5 000 km2 of spectacular vistas and scenic valleys – the ideal destination for off-the-beaten track tourism. The area is steeped in history and some artefacts found here date back to Stone Age times.

The Soutpansberg Region:
Across the northwest, and framing the northern border of the province, lies the Soutpansberg area. One of the main geographical features of this region is the Limpopo River, which forms South Africa’s northern border. The western section of this region is framed by the rocky spine of the awe-inspiring Soutpansberg mountain range.

The Valley of the Olifants:
Travelling east, visitors will discover the rich natural heritage of the Lowveld with its claim to fame – the world-famous Kruger National Park. The Olifants Valley is teeming with a variety of wildlife. It is known for its spectacular scenery, mountains, rivers, dams, history and cultural and ethnic attractions.

Major attractions in the area:

Makapansgat Valley:
This valley is directly linked to the history of the Cradle of Humankind, this is where, in February 1925, Professor Raymond Dart announced the discovery of the first ‘ape-man’. The caves at Makapansgat Valley have rendered fossils dating back 3,3 million years. Stone Age and Iron Age relics have also been located here.

Mapungubwe:

One of the most remarkable icons in Limpopo, Mapungubwe is situated at the confluence of the Sashi and Limpopo Rivers. The great ruins at Mapungubwe, in the Limpopo River Valley, show remains of the first and greatest ever South African kingdom to have flourished.
Mapungubwe indicates remains of human occupation in and around 850 AD (two and a half centuries before Great Zimbabwe). The artefacts at Mapungubwe illustrate a flourishing trade and advanced social systems of African kingdoms in the 13th century. Mapungubwe was recently declared a Unesco World Heritage site.

Modjadji Cycad Nature Reserve:
In the Lobedu Mountains near Duiwelskloof and situated next to the home of the fabled rain queen, lies the Modjadji Cycad Reserve – boasting some of the oldest and largest cycad specimens on earth.

Kruger National Park:
Spot the ‘big five’ from your luxury safari vehicle, or go tracking on foot in the most famous game park in the world. The northern Kruger offers excellent game-viewing and world-class accommodation. A number of community lodges are also springing up, adding to the authentic African experience.

The Ivory Route:
There are 54 provincial reserves in Limpopop, 10 of which are being developed into a series of camps that follow in the footsteps of historical characters. Dubbed the African Ivory Route, these reserves form an arc that follows the peripheral borders of the province along Botswana, Zimbabwe and Mozambique, and includes the northern part of the Kruger National Park.

Bela-Bela:
Known as ‘Warmbaths’ for a few decades, because of the hot mineral spring at its centre. This part of the world offers cheap accommodation and fun for the whole family. Bela-Bela is a gateway to the southern Waterberg and/or Thabazimbi.

Lake Fundudzi and the Vondo Forest: Lake Fundudzi and the nearby Vondo Forests are said to be the sacred burial ground of the royal Venda clan, (and place of birth and creation in Venda mythology). The area is also said to be protected by a python god.

Dzata Ruins:
Built in around 1700, and once the flourishing capital of the Venda empire. Dzata was occupied for only about 60 years and was last ruled by the great Thohoyandou who forged the Venda nation from clans already living in the Soutpansberg.

Lapalala Wilderness:
This 25 000 hectare wilderness in the Waterberg contains rare roan and sable antelope, white and black rhino and a plethora of animals and birds. Lapalala is a sanctuary for endangered animals.

Haernertsburg:
Known as the ‘Land of the Silver Mist’, this gorgeous village in the misty Magoebaskloof mountains near the town of Tzaneen is famous for its cherries, azaleas and abundant flora and birdlife. The perfect spot for the ultimate weekend getaway.

Nylsvlei:
Nylsvlei is a 160km nature reserve enclosing one of the most beautiful, wetlands in South Africa. Offering 150 species of bird (including some of the most rare species on the planet).

Hiking in Letaba:
Due to its spectacular scenery and deep forests, hiking in the Letaba region is popular with visitors. The two-day Debegeni and three-day Dokolewa trails are a must. Day-walks are also on offer.

Horse-back Safaris:
The Waterberg is recognised as one of the best places to take part in horse-back safaris. There are a number of well-established outfits that will cater to all your needs. A combination of a tented safari camp combined with a horse-trail safari is certainly an option for regular riders.

Smalltown Treasures:
Limpopo Province offers sleepy small-town South Africa at its best. Why not journey from one town to the next – sampling the hospitality along the way. Traveller’s favourites are Haenertsberg, Elim, Vaalwater and the entire Magoebaskloof region.

Art and Crafts:
The Gazankulu and Venda regions are known for their fantastic arts and crafts. Clay pots, basketwork, painting, tapestries and fabrics are all up for grabs at pretty reasonable prices. There are a number of famous artists (sculptors) that come from the Venda region namely.