Limpopo, South Africa - ECO South Africa Sport and Travel

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Limpopo, South Africa

Limpopo, South Africa

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

Known as the Great North, Limpopo is land of legend. Ruins and relics abounds in ancient forests, sparkling trout waters, hot mineral springs and waterfalls. Much of it has remained unchanged for centuries, offering unlimited opportunities in Limpopo for the enjoyment of untamed Africa. Limpopo 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 that date back to time immemorial. Limpopo celebrates a rich cultural heritage and at many archaeological sites the mysteries of the past are still being discovered. Historians reveal that the first black Africans moved across the great Limpopo before 300 AD. The Voortrekkers arrived in Limpopo in the early nineteenth century and numerous battles between the indigenous African people and the Voortrekkers took place. Then, during the apartheid regime, portions of the land in Limpopo were divided up into what then became known as 'homeland' areas.

Happily, today Limpopo is united in its aim to offer the best possible welcome to all who visit this spectacular region of South Africa. The northern section of the Kruger National Park which is located in Limpopo, is renowned for its large herds of elephant and buffalo, significant numbers of tsessebe and sable and a rich bird life. On the park's western border, excellent privately owned game reserves and lodges offer luxurious, air-conditioned accommodation and day and night game viewing in open 4x4 vehicles. The mountainous area of the Waterberg is also home to numerous Limpopo game reserves, proving a rewarding experience of wilderness country.

The Soutpansberg region, one of the most spectacular regions of South Africa, should be explored at leisure by following at least one of the forest trails. Beyond the mountains, mopane trees and giant, ancient baobab trees dominate the plains sweeping northward to Zimbabwe. Many natural heritage sites in the area are accessible to visitors. There are 340 indigenous tree species here, an abundance of animal life and the world’s highest concentration of leopard.

Wide streets, jacaranda and coral trees, colourful parks and sparkling fountains characterise the principal town and capital of Limpopo, Polokwane. In addition to Polokwanes status as a major commercial and agricultural centre, Polokwane is the cultural hub of the region, featuring impressive art exhibitions and historical buildings. The Polokwane countryside is the setting for some of the most prosperous cattle ranches in South Africa. Strategically placed on the Great North Road, and halfway between Pretoria and the Zimbabwean border, this attractive city is an ideal base from which to explore. Polokwane is a popular port of call for visitors en route to the Tzaneen area and the northern part of the Kruger Park. The options for holiday pleasure and accommodation in Polokwane and its surroundings are virtually endless, whether as a pleasant en-route stopover or a destination in itself.

Game Lodges & Bush Camps

Limpopo is the northernmost province of South Africa, sharing its borders with Zimbabwe, Botswana and Mozambique. As such, it has a hotter climate and is home to a different variety of plants and animals; those that can survive these conditions. These are simply spectacular in their beauty and variety, and are a delight to explore and discover.

Staying at one (or more) of Limpopo’s game lodges, or in the local bush camps, gives visitors the opportunity to enjoy a comfortable base from which to embark on game drives at dawn and dusk, or even those conducted at night, when nocturnal predators come to life. When staying at a Game Lodge in Limpopo, guests can look forward to seeing lion, cheetah, elephant, rhino, buffalo, giraffe, zebra, ostrich, hyena, and plenty more. The birds are equally impressive, making Limpopo a bird-watcher’s heaven.

Guest Houses and Lodges

Limpopo guest houses and lodges are an ideal alternative to staying at the (sometimes more expensive) hotels in the area. Meals besides breakfast are often available (dinner and/or lunch) usually on request. Many of the services offered at hotels can be expected, such as airport transfers, wake up calls and laundry service.

Self Catering

Budget, comfortable and luxury Limpopo self-catering accommodation available for holiday rental year-round. This includes free-standing holiday homes, luxury villas, holiday cottages and self-contained chalets often in a garden or bush setting, holiday apartments and suites / units (with kitchenettes and usually private entrances). All Limpopo self catering accommodation units are fully equipped which enables guests to cater for themselves.

Big 5 Safari

If you're looking for a Big 5 safari experience in South Africa you can go to almost any province in South Africa, but the Kruger National Park in Mpumalanga and Limpopo provinces remains an iconic tourism drawcard. A visit to the Kruger National Park is not complete without exciting safari adventures. Embark on an unforgettable game excursion to track an abundance of free-roaming wildlife. For an encounter with the smaller creatures of the park, venture on action-packed bush walking safaris or a specialised bird watching safari.

The Big 5 - lion, leopard, elephant, rhino and buffalo - abound in the park, and you see them by self-drive, guided drives or guided walks through the bushveld.

Echo Caves

This underground wonderland was stumbled upon in 1923 by the owner of the farm called Klipfonteinhoek when he was searching for a source of water. Great was his surprise when he realised that some of his cattle had already mysteriously disappeared into the cave. After exploring the cave it was soon realised that this dark underworld carried with it the most beautiful gems of nature.
After the completion of the Abel Erasmus Pass and the Strijdom Tunnel in 1959 the cave was opened as a tourist attraction. Later the cave was declared a National Monument. The name Echo was given to the cave, as a certain stalactite formation produces a distinctive echoing sound when tapped on. This echo can still be heard on the outside of the cave today.

The Panorama Route along the Blyde River Canyon in Mpumalanga is arguably one of the most beautiful and popular travel destinations in South Africa. It leads through the rugged mountain range of the northern Drakensberg. Here, in the north-eastern part of the Great Escarpment, the inland plateau declines abruptly and steeply and opens up fantastic views of the plains of the Lowveld up to a thousand metres below. The views are most reliable in the dry winter months. At other times the spectacle is often impaired, since the escarpment is a barrier for the clouds coming from the east, rising at this point and bringing a lot of mist and rain

  • 45 - 60 Minute guided tour of the caves
  • Hike in the surrounding mountains
  • Bird Watching
  • Various animals on the premises for children to view. Some of these include Emu's, Llama, Ducks and the odd Baboon and Monkey that visits.
  • Museum of Man for interesting archaeological finds.
  • The Three Rondawels for stunning views over Blyde River Canyon.
  • God's Window with views over the Lowveld
  • Bourke's  Luck Potholes for spectacular rock formations.
  • Visit the Mac Mac Falls - 60m high drop into a natural pool.

The Waterberg Biosphere

The Waterberg Mountains stretch along more than 5 000 km² of spectacular vistas and scenic valleys - the ideal destination off the beaten tourism track. The Waterberg Biosphere is steeped in a history and some artefacts found here date back to Stone Age times. The area is a mosaic of culture and tradition as is reflected by the different rural tribes such as the Bapedi, Tswana and Basotho, while the Voortrekkers also left their distinctive mark on the area.

Commercial agriculture is an integral part of Limpopo, and cattle ranching and maize farming are regional institutions - the water-rich valleys of the Limpopo River on the Botswana border provide sweet bushveld grazing, while the plains of the Springbok Flats near the towns of Bela-Bela and Mokopane are covered with a colourful quilt of carefully cultivated fields of maize and sunflowers.

Otherwise, the bushveld landscape, interspersed with sandstone buttresses and baobab, Marula and fever trees, supports a number of towns that make up one of the country's fastest-growing industrial and agricultural districts. The Waterberg is one of the most mineralised regions in the world and numerous towns form part of the Bushveld Igneous Complex - 50,000km² treasure trove yielding massive amounts of minerals such as vanadium, platinum, nickel and chromium.

The Waterberg Biosphere and District offers the tourist a bit of both worlds - an infrastructure of excellent facilities and modern conveniences found in the many game reserves and conservation areas, coupled with the opportunity to experience the African wilderness in its pristine state. A few of the more popular game and nature reserves within the Waterberg Biosphere region include Welgevonden Game Reserve, Marakele National Park, Mabalingwe Nature Reserve, Lapalala Game Reserve and the Doorndraai Nature Reserve.

The Baobabs
The giant Baobab trees grow mainly in the hot, semi-arid areas north of the Soutpansbergmountain. Legend has it that in a frivolous mood, the gods planted Baobabs upside down with their roots exposed to the sky.

The baobab tree (Adansonia digitata) is one of the trees in Africa with the longest life span. The average age of the Baobabs found in the northern parts of Limpopo are between 300 and 500 years old. Near Sagole, a rural village in the north east of the province, a baobab specimen can be visited that is 3,000 years old and measures 43 metres in circumference at base. Baobabs are among the most useful plants to both animals and humans.

With its own distinct ecosystem, Baobabs swarm with life as it provides shelter and sustenance for various creatures. Elephants browse the leaves and strip the bark for food and moisture. Baboons feast on the fruits of the tree while birds (and bees) nest in the holes in the trunk, as most of the old trees are hollow inside. Fruit bats and bush babies pollinate the flowers that only last for 24 hours before falling to the ground to become food for various antelope species.
Come and see the largest Baobab tree in the world. Standing at 22 meters tall, with a circumference of 47 meters, this magnificent tree sits on the Sunland Nurseries grounds. The nursery itself is rather impressive although the baobab here is still the main attraction. Carbon dating estimated that the tree is around 6000 years old, making it even older than the famous Giza Pyramids. The Owners of the nursery had a rather genius idea and decided to clear out the hollow centre of the tree to create a unique bar. The bar floor sits 1 meter below ground level and it has space for around 60 people. With the bar n place, ice cold drafts being served and live entertainment, the Big Baobar attracts over 5000 visitors a year.

The Rhino Museum
As a testament to its emphasis on eco-tourism and conservation, the Waterberg boasts Africa's only Rhino Museum, devoted entirely to the conservation of rhinoceros. The species, that has roamed Planet Earth for more than 30 million years has been brought to the brink of extinction in less than 30 years.

Perhaps one hundred thousand rhino roamed the African landscape in the sixties, but war, corruption, greed and the indifference of man, have led to its near demise. The Thino Museum highlights the evolutionary history, habitats and landscapes, the rhino wars, illegal trade and use of rhino horn and conservation efforts to preserve rhinos.

Considering that both black and white rhinos almost became extinct, that there are only four major populations of rhino surviving in Africa today (Kenya, Zimbabwe, Namibia and South Africa) and that South Africa has the highest population of both species, a visit to this museum is certainly worthwhile.

The objective of the Rhino Museum is to make as many people as possible aware of what has befallen the species, what we are trying to do about it, and why it is important to ensure that rhinoceros do not become extinct.

The Rhino Orphanage

The Rhino Orphanage is a registered non-profit company based in the Limpopo Province and was founded by Arrie van Deventer in 2012. The orphanage is the first specialist, dedicated, non-commercial centre that cares for orphaned and injured baby rhinos with the only aim of releasing them back into the wild. It was created as the result of a lack of a specialized place for rearing baby rhinos who have been orphaned as a consequence of the current poaching crisis which feeds the illegal trade in horns. Baby rhinos are hand-reared by the rehabilitation staff, a milk substitute is fed as well as supplementary food. Exercise is encouraged by daily walks in which the rhinos also have the opportunity to graze and browse in the bush. The rhinos are split in groups according to ages and how depending they are on their human moms. Natural behaviour such as playing and wallowing are highly encouraged and are developed normally if rhinos are socialized with other rhinos. Health checks, diets and medical problems are treated by specialized veterinary staff. Human contact is restricted to prevent the imprinting of rhinos to humans and in the future turn them into problem animals when in adulthood.

The Polokwane Bird, Snake and Reptile Park

The Polokwane Bird, Snake and Reptile Park is located in Polokwane, Limpopo. This park is one of the largest municipal reserves in the country with over 280 species of exotic and indigenous birds, aquariums with snakes and lizards, and dark pools filled with crocodiles and water birds.

On the eastern side of the sanctuary are shallow ponds that attract further waders as well as sandpipers, greenshank, ruff and little string, even African snipe and greater painted snipes put in an appearance, as well as African hoopoe, black crake, waxbills, lapwings, cisticola, mousebird and sunbirds.

A few clever viewing hides and attractive picnic spots make this a peaceful venue for the whole family.

The Bakone Malapa Open-Air Museum

Regarded as a living museum, the Bakone Malapa Northern Sotho Open-Air Museum near Polokwane is one of several museums and national monuments that bear testimony to South Africa’s peoples. The Bakone Malapa Open-air Museum, where tribesmen practise long-standing traditions to enlighten visitors about the traditions of Africa’s people, is one of two similar museums in Limpopo - the other is the Tsonga open-air Museum near Tzaneen.

Bakone Malapa is a reconstructed village in the style used by the northern Sotho about 250 years ago designed to demonstrate the daily life of the Bakone, a highly sophisticated subgroup of the northern Sotho tribe. The cultural village includes two homesteads or lapas that display and explain fire making, maize grinding and beer brewing as they would have been carried out years ago. There are also handcraft demonstrations that include pottery, basketry and bead work and most of these locally-made crafts are then sold from the local craft shop.

The guides are all excellent story tellers and the village’s architectural and cultural styles come alive through their eyes as they take one through the village’s traditional way of life. But the museum is more than a cultural village alone. There is a bird sanctuary, a game reserve, hiking trails and outdoor recreation areas.
Tsonga Kraal Museum
This museum represents the building styles and cultural products of the North Tsonga. The North Tsonga is comprised of refugee groups from the southern parts of Mozambique. The Tsonga Kraal Museum, as it is today, is an attempt to show as many traditional building styles of the North Tsonga, as possible. The layout of the kraal represents the homestead of a Chief with eight wives. The arrangement of the huts follows a set pattern but many variations on this pattern are found in the area.
The Kraal was built exclusively of traditional materials. The framework of most of the huts is made of mopane poles bound together with bark from the mopane tree. The walls and the floors are made of clay taken from anthills. The paint to decorate the walls is mixed from different colored soils. Several of the huts, which are open to the public, have been equipped with objects used traditionally in every-day life.
Local craftsmen make traditional pottery, woodwork, basketry and salt. Thus an attempt is made to give the visitor a glimpse of the culture and lifestyle of the Tsonga people. Guided tours are presented and can also be arranged by appointment.

Moholoholo Rehabilitation Centre

Moholoholo Rehabilitation Centre is a sanctuary for abandoned, injured or poisoned animals. Amongst these are lions from an Egyptian circus, leopards, wild dogs, cheetahs, poisoned vultures, crowned eagles and other survivors. Moholoholo lies in the lowveld near Hoedspruit, at the base of the Drakensberg escarpment. It acts as both a facilitator to the return of injured wildlife to their natural environment, and as a breeder of endangered species.

Those animals who cannot, for whatever reason, be reintroduced to the wild remain at the centre as 'ambassadors' to educate visitors and schools who visit Moholoholo, like the lioness caught in a snare and Porsche the cheetah. Other animals include a honey badger, wild dogs, a lynx and any baby animals that are in the centre at the time of your visit. The centre is the only facility in southern Africa to successfully breed the endangered crowned eagle, and they have bred and released over 150 serval cats into areas where they had become extinct.

Another of the centre's functions is to remove 'problem animals' from farms and rural areas and to relocate them to an area where they are more welcome. The Moholoholo Rehabilitation Centre is a non-profit organisation and relies on public support and volunteers to sustain their programmes. Moholoholo offers two daily tours from Monday to Saturday, starting at 09h30 and 15h00 respectively. They are open on Sundays only during school holidays and over long weekends. Contact them if your group is larger than eight people. The permanent residents of the centre mean that visitors can get up close and personal to creatures they would not usually experience in this way. It demonstrates on a very practical level the plight of wildlife and the problems these animals face to survive.

Letaba Elephant Hall

The Letaba Elephant Hall is situated in Kruger National Park in the Limpopo Province, South Africa. The elephant museum can be found at the Letaba Rest Camp, almost midway between the northern and southern parts of the Park. The closest entry gate to the camp is just outside the town of Phalaborwa. Once through the gate, the Letaba Camp is 50 km away.

The museum showcases ivory and skulls from the Kruger Parks greatest Tuskers, known as the “Magnificent Seven”. These impressive bulls had tusks weighing over 50 kg each and back in 1980 they were individually named by the parks Warden at the time, Dzombo, Kambaku, Mafunyane, Ndlulamithi, Shawu, Shingwedzi and undoubtedly the most famous of all Mandleve. The reaction from the public was staggering and when each of these great elephants died it was decided to retrieve their tusks and skulls to display them. The most recent set of Tusks to be added was that of the famous Mandleve. Mandleve died of natural causes in 1993 and was the largest ivory carrying elephant yet recorded in the Kruger National Park. The other six elephants all died between 1981 and 1985. Information covering the evolution of elephants, their behavior and ecology are also on display with games and activities for the children.

Things to do and see
  • Elephant Skulls
  • Ivory
  • Full Elephant Skeleton
  • Skins and skulls of other wild animals
  • Murals
  • Kids Activities
  • Game Drives

The Modjadji Cycad Reserve

The Reserve is named after Queen Modjadji, the Rain Queen who fled Zimbabwe and settled in Limpopo. The Queen was famous for her magical powers of rainmaking. The reserve is famous for its Cycads and it is said that the rare cycads date back to the era of dinosaurs. With a subtropical climate, the area has become well known for its rain and mist.

The best way to view the forest is on foot. Whilst walking you will get closer to the wildlife and truly immerse yourself in this enchanting experience. Indulge yourself by having a picnic at one of the many dedicated breakfast or lunch stops. The forest is home to many endemic species such as: Monkeys, Bushbuck, Impala, Dassies, Bushpig, Impala and Wildebeest. The area is incredibly rich in birdlife and is one of South Africa's most popular venues for bird watchers. The Reserve covers 530 hectares of mountainous terrain and contains the world's largest concentration, Transvenosus Encephalartos, one of the most impressive and tallest Cycad species, commonly known as the Modjadji palm. This species only occurs in this region. These cycads can grow to amazing heights of 13m and when producing seeds the cones can weigh up to 35kg.

Guided tours of the reserve, Modjadji Village and the Royal Kraal for the Rain Queen can be arranged for visitors who are interested.

Magoebaskloof Canopy Tours

Magoebaskloof Canopy Tours will take you into a previously inaccessible realm of nature, moving you between platforms built high within the upper level of indigenous forests and ancient mountain cliffs. Each platform is joined by our spectacular 'foefie' cable slide high above the sparkling river, waterfalls and forest floor.

Relax and absorb the tranquillity of your natural surroundings on each platform. Magoebaskloof Canopy Tours' trained guides ensure the safety of each group while describing facts about the fauna, flora and ecology of the surrounding environment. Throughout the tour, the guide will point out plants, birds and other interesting sights so that you get the opportunity to see as much as possible. All of the slides overlook the stunning Groot Letaba River and the Letaba River Gorge. This is without doubt one of the most breath-taking waterfall gorges in the country.

Suitable for anyone between 7 and 70. Great for the whole family,nature lovers, thrill seekers and corporate groups. A Magoebaskloof Canopy Tour includes light refreshments, transport, lunch, guides and equipment.

Zwakala Brewery

Come closer. That’s what the name Zwakala means and that’s the convivial African spirit behind Magoebaskloof’s first micro-brewery – Zwakala Brewery. Nestled in the Magoebaskloof Mountains, its location is as much its signature as its award winning beers and its Blueberry Gin and Tonic on Tap. This charming brewery has enormous windows that overlook the mountains and you can go for a tasting, head out for a picnic or just head for the river with a Zwakala beer in hand. Even better, sleep over at Zwakala River Retreat (within walking distance) to refresh your soul after a few beers! The Brewery is also popular for its wide variety of outdoor games - life-size jenga, badminton & corn hole. These are fun for both adults and kids!

Each batch of beer is handcrafted, nothing unnatural is used in the brewing process – and the most important ingredient is the clear and pure mountain water drawn from the Letaba River. As the saying goes, “once you have tasted the water of the Letaba, you will never want to leave”. The brewery is open Saturdays and Sundays from 11am-5pm. Brewery tours are available from 11.30am. We are also open over long weekends & most of the public holidays. Group bookings are available during the week. So please come closer and enjoy a fabulous outing at Zwakala Brewery!

Agatha Crocodile Ranch

Situated on a picturesque avocado farm in the Limpopo Province is Agatha Crocodile Ranch, a complete crocodile farm that offers tours to visitors all over the world. We offer adventurous daily tours through the ranch, an opportunity to touch a baby crocodile and also to feed the bigger crocodiles, a curio shop and a local art gallery.

The tours last about 1 to 1½ hours and we promise to bring you some great excitement. Included in the tour is a comprehensive address covering the history, behaviour, conservation and breeding of the Nile crocodile, followed by a feeding show and guided tour of the breeding dam and enclosures. Touch a Baby Croc: Don’t you think it is a little risky touching a fully grown crocodile, big guy? Now you have the opportunity to touch a baby croc. Don’t be mistaken - they can still deliver a stinging bite if not handled properly! Don't worry. See Our Living Legends: Some of our legends include Stompie, Milan, Rufus, John and Linky. Rufus is currently our biggest crocodile and 4,2 meters long and approximately 35 years old. Our Legends are certainly our biggest tourist attraction.

Qualito Distillery Tour and Tastings

Qualito Craft Distillery are a must for gin, whisky and vodka enthusiasts, as well as for travellers that are looking for a great way to spend an afternoon in the Lowveld. In the distillery itself, visitors get to watch as the expert distillers carefully guide the process from choosing the best grains to crafting something that is nothing short of a creation, served on ice or neat, and guaranteed to tantalise the discerning palate.

The Ginstronomy experience celebrates the perfect pairing of flavours to create unique gins. Qualito’s Grey Hawk Classic Gin is of a top-notch quality and is hand-bottled to ensure attention to detail and dedication. This gin is characterised by bold juniper nuances, as tradition would demand, which is underscored by citrus and dry lemon notes and a sweet floral spice to finish it off to perfection. Part of the tour includes an in-depth exploration of the foods that are best paired with each spirit. The pure craft whiskies are nothing short of irresistible for their incredibly smooth finish. Different varieties are best paired with anything from chocolate to pork crackling, roasted almonds to intense cheeses.

A highlight on the distillery tour is to sample the Qualito’s Route 71 Craft Vodka Crush or some of the Craft Vodka Infusions. These are excellent digestifs that double-up as desserts. Taste the undertones of watermelon, litchi or coffee as you sip on these extraordinary spirits. The boutique cocktails are a must for visitors looking for a taste explosion with a classy finish.

Kinyonga Reptile Centre

Learn about snakes, lizards, frogs and spiders of Africa at Kinyonga Reptile Centre."Kinyonga" is a Swahili word meaning Chameleon which essentially means little lion. These completely harmless reptiles are feared by many inhabitants of Africa.  This unreasonable fear also exists with snakes yet most snakes are, also themselves, totally harmless. On our tour you will not only see snakes but chameleons, lizards and spiders as well.

OR - As a general volunteer you will be involved in most activities at the Centre during your placement with us.  This will give you some insight with regards to the different challenges that reptile conservationists’ face and how facilities like the Kinyonga Reptile Centre is important, in bridging the gap, between fear and appreciation.  A placement with us will be a massively rewarding experience allowing for you to gain more experience into the world of reptiles, amphibians and arachnids.  Conservation is a priority with all that we do and we would expect the same outlook towards these animals from a volunteer with us.

OR - As an intern with us, you will be required to work on a study project, research program, masters, doctoral etc.  Your internship program and project will depend on the requirements set by your academic institution.  We will act as a mentor on behalf of your academic institute and provide required mentorship duties necessary.  It is important though, that all necessary information be sent to us prior to your arrival.  We will only accept projects that are of conservation value that benefits the environment and are conducted ethically. There might be additional costs involved, like materials for experimental setups, research equipment etc.  It is, therefore, important to identify possible projects before you arrive in South Africa so that we can provide you with updated information.  We can help you with potential ideas for a research project, should you not have one in place already.  The Kinyonga Reptile Centre has a qualified Biologist /Intern Research Coordinator that can help if need be.  Most projects will be done on the "Blyderus Research Farm" but can involve other areas within the greater Hoedspruit region.  During your internship, you will not only be involved with your project, but also with the general activities at the Centre.

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