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9 Days Limpopo Cultural Tour

ITINERARY
 

Day 1 – Phalaborwa

Arrive in beautiful Phalaborwa – a small bushveld town adjacent to the Kruger National Park.  The name “Ba-Phalaborwa” means “better than the South”, given to the area by the Sotho tribes who moved here from the South.  These tribes mined and smelted copper and iron ore here for as far back as 400AD. 

Upon arrival at the airport, you will be handed your rental vehicle and directed to your hotel.  After checking in to your hotel, pay a visit to Masorini Archaeological Site near Phalaborwa gate – a reconstructed village with huts, grain storage areas and an iron smelting site.

Tonight, you will enjoy a traditional South African “braai”.

Day 2:  Modern Day Shangani living and a Traditional Tsonga “Kraal”

After a scrumptious breakfast, it is time to enjoy a cultural tour with a difference.  Experience true Shangani living.  You will meet an array of interesting people from various walks of life, learn from the local “Sangoma” or traditional healer, and enjoy lunch with the Chief of the village.  After a delightful morning, you are off to learn more – this time about the history and culture of the Tsonga people.  Upon completion of your tour of the traditional Tsonga “Kraal” (homestead), drive to Tzaneen where you will overnight.

Day 3: Modjadji – The Rain Queen

Visit Modjadji Cycad Reserve with its ancient cycads dating back to the time of the dinosaurs.  The Reserve holds the largest concentration of a single cycad species in the world and forms part of the realm of the Legendary Rain Queen. 

Respected and famous for her rainmaking powers, Queen Modjadji was said to have struck fear in the hears of even the bravest warriors.  Enjoy a tour of the village before heading to your accommodation for the evening.

Day 4: Thathe Vondo, Lake Fundudzi, the Dzata Museum and the drum made from human skin

Today you visit Limpopo’s most beautiful tropical forest – Thathe Vondo. Sacred forest of the Vhavhenda people, guarded by a half-man, half-lion creature called Nethane.  According to folklore, the forest is also home to the sacred white lion and a mythical “thunder-and-lightning” bird, called Ndadzi. 

At the foothills of the forest, you will find Lake Fundudzi – the sacred lake of the Vhavhenda people, defended by the python god who lives on a rock in the mountain. Be sure not to come to close to the side of the lake, as it is infested with crocodiles.

From the magical surroundings to the Dzata Museum – the remains of the royal kraal of the Venda kings.  This archaeological site is said to date back 6000 years.  Make sure not to leave before you have seen the sacred drum made from human skin.

Day 5: Mapungubwe

Mapungubwe – an ancient African Kingdom, said to be South Africa’s first.  The ancient city of Mapungubwe (meaning “Hill of the Jackal”) is an iron age archaeological site in the Limpopo Province.  The Kingdom of Mapungubwe lasted about 80 years and appears to have been the centre of the largest known kingdom in the African sub-continent.

Mapungubwe hill is 300m long, broad at the one end, narrow at the other, it is only accessible by means of two very steep and narrow paths that twist their way to the summit.  This is the place where archaeologists excavated the famous golden rhino and other evidence of a very wealthy kingdom.

Day 6: Mapungubwe

Discover Mapungubwe to your heart’s content.

Day 7: Pafuri

A ubiquitous sense of history fills the grounds and buildings of Pafuri Border Camp.  Once a labour recruitment station for WNLA (Witwatersrand Native Labour Association), used to provide migrant workers for the mushrooming gold mines in Johannesburg, Pafuri boasts many a story to tell.

Day 8: Tulamela, Crook’s Corner, Fever Tree Forest

Tulamela – a historical site dating back to approximately 450-5—years BP (Before Present), with dry-stone walls similar to those of Great-Zimbabwe.  Trade formed an integral part of life at Tulamela.  Trade networks extended through the interior of the continent to include Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Central Africa.  Crooks Corner – a century ago this was a remote area – accessible only by a long and tough wagon trail twisting through dense bush and sweltering heat.  This remote area was a haven for people hiding from the law.  Being the corner of the triangle where South Africa, Mozambique and Zimbabwe (then the Union of South Africa, Portuguese East Africa and Southern Rhodesia) meets, it was easy to just hop to the other side of the beacon into one of the neighbouring countries, should the long arm of the law catch up with you. 

Day 9: Thohoyandou and back to Phalaborwa

Visit the Thohoyandou arts and craft centre and admire the work of local artists.  Most of the artwork was created with the rich history of the Vhavhenda people in mind.  Return to Phalaborwa after a delightful experience.

 

Limpopo - the forgotten province.....  BUT, the place to be in Winter!  With temperatures averaging 21degrees in Winter, the Phalaborwa, Giyani, Pafuri region is the place to be.  See the drum made of human skin, experience the eery beauty of the sacred Lake Fundudzi and the Thathe Vondo Forest.  Legend believes Lake Fundudzi is guarded by a Python god, living in the mountains.  Should you wish, we could also include a visit to a local "kraal", where you can experience the domba dance.  

This tour focus on culture, history and royals, thus a visit to Bolobedu, home of Modjadji, the rain queen is a must.  From there you will traverse through the beautiful countryside to Mapungubwe, an Iron-Age archaeological site in the Limpopo Province, home to the "golden rhino" statue.  A thousand years ago, Mapungubwe was the centre of the largest kingdom in Southern Africa, with a thriving trade in gold and ivory.

From there, your tour will take you to Tulamela and Masorini - archaeological sites in the Kruger National Park, before returning to Phalaborwa.

 

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