16 September 2013 by Gail Cameron

Hiking in the Morning Sun Nature Reserve, Limpopo

The Soutpansberg mountains are vast and beautiful. Rugged cliffs lean into the sun, and the surrounding bushveld spreads far.

Striking red coral trees dot the landscape of the Morning Sun Nature Reserve

We were up with the sunrise and met our yawning companions and our guide, Sipho Mokgalaka, outside the comfortable Mashovhela Lodge rondavels (round huts); it was time to go exploring in the Morning Sun Nature Reserve. 

We hopped into a safari vehicle that took us up a valley, criss-crossing over a rocky stream, surrounded by the red, sun-tinted cliffs. Once we could drive no further, we began hiking up a narrow footpath towards the legendary Mashovhela rock pool.

The game-drive vehicle took us through the reserve to the start of the hiking trail

Legend has it that a powerful Venda king, Thohoiyanda, beat a magical drum that defeated all of his enemies. One night, King Thohoiyanda and the sacred drum mysteriously vanished. Neither was ever seen again. It was believed that he disappeared into the western Soutpansberg, into Mashovhela rock pool. According to legend, it is this sacred drum that can sometimes be heard in the echoes from the rock cliffs of Mashovhela pool.

The Mashovhela pool is sacred to the Venda people

Out of respect for Venda culture and traditions, swimming in the pool is not permitted. We continued our hike ... up a cliff face, being steadied only by a chain to help pull ourselves up. From the top, we looked out over the valley with its red, flowering coral trees starkly contrasted against the green vegetation below.

Hiking up a sheer cliff with only a chain for support

Our path continued upwards and onwards, and Sipho shared knowledge from his years as a guide and game ranger. We then walked into a dense forest where white arrows sign-posted the way.

Our guide, Sipho, pointed out route markers. We were getting close to the waterfall

Soon, gushing water could be heard. Sipho pointed into the distance and there we caught a glimpse of what we came to see. It was the top of a waterfall! 

A few minutes later, we emerged from the dense, forested path into a wide opening where a cascade of water tumbled over a 30m to 40m drop into a clear vast pool: the Tshavhaloyi waterfall. We listened as Sipho shared more myths and legends about the area and the Venda people, stories of romance, witches, kings, queens, dancing and drums.

Tshavhaloyi waterfall

Soon it was time to head back to the lodge. Breakfast was waiting and the opportunity to enjoy a number of exciting activities in the Morning Sun Nature Reserve. We enjoyed our fry-up while watching the red cliffs, listening carefully for the sound of a distant beating drum. 

Contact details
Mashovhela Lodge
Email: seniormanager@morningsun.co.za
Website: www.mashovehla.com
Tel: +27 (0)87 233 5058

Category: Attractions

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