If you’re looking for historical insights and cultural attractions, Polokwane is certainly not going to disappoint. In and around the city are a host of wonderful museums and as you head further away from the capital you’ll find ancient African kingdoms, sacred traditional sites and archaeological digs.

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The holy forest, Thathe Vondo is the home to Venda's ancestral spirits and is protected by Nathathe, a supernatural lion.

In Polokwane, history and culture offer insight into this modern city. Kick-start your cultural outing at Polokwane Art Museum in the Library Gardens Complex. The museum has an extensive indoor and outdoor collection, reflecting some of the country's best artists.

Nearby, the Hugh Exton Photographic Museum has some 20 000 black-and-white photographs from the 1890s showing life as it was back then – from bodices to ox wagons and acacia trees.

When it comes to history and culture in Polokwane, perhaps the most famous spot is The Irish House, a late-Victorian shop building that depicts the different cultures of the province.

To find out how the Voortrekkers lived, check out the Arend Dieperink Museum in Mokopane. The museum is housed in a historic building and is a fascinating insight into the past, from the time of ancient humans to recent times.

Discover the life of our hairier hominid forebears at Makapan's Valley on the outskirts of Mokopane. This archaeological site contains evidence of humans living here as far back as 3,5 million years ago.

Further north, along the banks of the Limpopo River, lies South Africa's very own lost city of gold: Mapungubwe World Heritage Site. A thousand years ago, Mapungubwe was the centre of the largest Iron Age kingdom in the subcontinent, where a highly sophisticated people traded gold and ivory with China, India and Egypt.

Today you can walk amongst the almost untouched remains of palace sites, as well as a settlement site and two earlier capital sites, each offering an extraordinary picture of social development over a 400-year timespan.

The area of Venda, north-east of Polokwane, is home to a number of artists and craftspeople. It offers fascinating mythology, ancient ruins and fulfilling places to stay.

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