The African Ivory Route has been around for years, and yet the Limpopo area in which it lies is one of the lesser-travelled areas in our country. With a new, focused effort to capatalise on the province’s beauty, Transfronteir Parks Destination along with the African Ivory Route team hosted the Leisure Wheels team at two of their overnight spots. You can read about Anzet du Plessis’ adventure in the new Volvo XC60 in our July issue, but here are a few things you have to know about Limpopo.
1. The African Ivory Route
The African Ivory Route in Limpopo is a lesser-known route through ten sites spread out over the province, showcasing not only the beauty but also the diversity of the area. At each site, whether a camp site, bungalow site or tented camp, a unique aspect of the province is on display. If you have international guests who would like to see tradition Bolobedu dances somewhere more authentic than on a stage, the staff at Modjadji will take you to the home of the locals. A cycad forest with plants dating over a thousand years lies behind the camp, and the hike to the top is well worth it. At Mtomeni, the peace and quiet of the 49 000 ha. Letaba reserve is disturbed only by grunting hippos and the rush of the greater Letaba river. Fundudzi gives you a glimpse into Vha-Venda culture and quite a few of the camps have great 4×4 routes.
Go to: www.africanivoryroute.co.za
We wrote about this gem of a town in a print issue last year, but Haenerstburg is still largely undiscovered. The small town has a mining-feel much like the Pilgrim’s Rest of old, but also harks to the street-cafe character of Clarens in the Free State. Smaller in scale than both of those towns, however, it’s not as crowded, the scenery is beautiful and the drive through Magoebaskloof is well worth the trip in itself. The small cottages at The Pennefather are incredibly good value for money, with a fireplace and a kitchen for self-catering.
Go to www.thepennefather.co.za
3. The tea plantations
Currently out of use, the tea fields that lie a few kilometres from Tzaneen towards Magoebaskloof are being kept in shape until the factory on the plantation is back up and running. Thanks to this, the plantation is the ultimate tea-garden, putting all others that go by that description to shame. The restaurant at the top of the hill offers breath-taking views of lush, green fields of tea gardens with the wooded forests of Magoebaskloof in the background. It’s an absolute must for lunch, and opens at 10AM daily. The staff are friendly and positive despite the lack of industry, the food and tea is top quality (try the Feta and Spinach pancake) and the cool breeze through the ancient trees in the garden are the perfect spot to rest.
4. Letaba Game Reserve/Mtomeni Tented Camp
With 49 000 hectares and only one five-tent strong Mtomeni camp site, Letaba Gamer Reserve is an under-utilised gem. With a maximum of ten people on the well-populated reserve, personlised attention and well-informed, friendly guides, it’s great value-for-money. The tented camps overlook the greater Letaba river which flows into the Kruger National Park, meets up with the lesser Letaba and becomes the Letaba river. Sightings of up to 40 hippos at a time, unusually large groups of giraffe and all of the big five make it even more special. Unfenced, the camp lies in the thick of the bush and the fireplace and large trees are the only thing between visitors and game – that, and the well-trained guides. The peace and quiet is second to none, and with smaller fire pits, en-suite bathrooms and kitchens at each stilted tent, visitors can either mingle at the main site or be completely self-sufficient, save for escorts to and from their tents. There’s also a 4×4 trail on the reserve.
Go to Letaba: www.dolimpopo.com
Go to Mtomeni: www.africanivoryroute.co.za
5. The Debegeni Waterfall/Magoebaskloof
The Debegeni Waterfall is one of the more well-kept waterfall picnic sites our country has to offer, and can not be passed over on a trip to the Limpopo. Near Haenertbsurg and Tzaneen, there’s no excuse to, either. Drive on the winding gravel road between the man-made forests in Magoebaskloof to the site, pay the R10pp/R10 per car entrance fee, and prepare for a relaxing few hours to fly by. With well looked after and clean facilities, there’s plenty of seating and parking for visitors. The name “Debegeni” means “place of the big pot” and refers to the base of the waterfal – a massive pool at the base of the fall. It’s great for birders and for families, and the tall trees, water and filtering sunlight a photographer’s delight.