Limpopo - SA's northern province & an eco-tourism delight
Dramatic, surprising... and brimming with potential
Most regional destinations have gateway brands that draw people and then spread them into the hinterland. Not so Limpopo. The cities we've seen so far are pretty unmemorable, but it's the country areas that really attract and leave lasting memories.
Limpopo's strong destination brands are Kruger National Park, Waterberg and Bushveld. It is, however, the product brands that carry the province's tourism industry. They may not have wide recognition, but they do have very strong customer loyalty.
Related content: accommodation in Limpopo
The first thing one has to get one's head around are all the name changes, where some have even been changed back to their old names. This causes havoc with road maps and even the SA Weather Service still uses most of the old names.
|Old name||New name||Changed back|
|Louis Trichardt||Makhado||Louis Trichardt|
Named after the great Limpopo River that flows along its northern border, this province is rich in wildlife, spectacular scenery and a wealth of historical and cultural treasures. 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.
In terms of local government, Limpopo Province delivered the worst service to its citizens compared to all South African provinces, in the Munidex service delivery index in 2009. Click here to read more.
Limpopo is renowned for its hot yet pleasant summers and dry winters.
Its weather is characterised by almost year-round sunshine. It can get very hot in summer (October – March), with temperatures rising to 27°C (80,6°F) and, sometimes, even touching the mid-30°s (mid 90°s).
Major Attractions in the Area:
• Makapansgat Valley – In February 1925, Professor Raymond Dart announced the discovery of the first ape-man.
• Mapungubwe – The great ruins at Mapungubwe, in the Limpopo River Valley, show remains of the first and greatest ever South African kingdom that flourished.
• Modjadji Cycad Nature 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 Ivory Route - There are 54 provincial reserves, 10 of which are being developed into a series of camps that follow in the footsteps of historical characters.
• 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.
• Venda Myths and Legends.
- Lake Funduzi – Sacred burial ground of the royal Venda clan, and place of birth and creation in Venda mythology.
- The Vondo Forest – Contains the Holy Forest within which lies Mount Thate, home of the Venda’s ancestral spirits and burial site of the royals.
- Dzata Ruins – Built in around 1700, and once the flourishing capital of the Venda empire.
- The legendary Domba dance (also known as the python dance) is an essential ritual in the initiation rites for young Venda females.
• Lapalalala 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.
• Hiking in Letaba – The two-day Debengeni and three-day Dokolewa trails are a must. Day walks are also on offer.
• Horse-back Safaris – The Waterberg is recognized as one of the best places to take part in horse-back safaris.
• Rhino Museum – The Laalala Wilderness Area is a sanctuary for wild and endangered animals and birds. The world’s only dedicated Rhino Museum can be found here.
• Arts 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, for example, Noria Mabasa and Jackson Thugwane.