At home with the BaSotho
Bakone Malapa Open-Air Museum
Experience the warm hospitality and rich culture of the BaSotho people in the stylishly created Bakone Malapa Museum near Polokwane, Limpopo Province. The Bakone, a sub-group of the Northern Sotho cultural group, will be happy to introduce you to their contemporary customs and traditional way of life.
The open-air Bakone Malapa Museum in Limpopo.
© South African Tourism
Did you know?
A tiny savannah bird, the scaly-feathered finch, is the totem of the Bakone people.
Just outside Polokwane, the capital of Limpopo province, the Bakone Malapa Museum is a showcase for the BaSotho culture. Two traditional homesteads house exhibits that explain much of the BaSotho's history.
The name Bakone is a Northern Sotho clan name taken from Bakone ba Matlala a’ Thaba who lived here in the 17th century, while Malapa is the Sotho word for homestead. Archaeological digs show that the Ndebele and the Shangaan also lived in the area, and evidence has been found of a Stone Age influence dating back 20 000 years.
The on-site cultural village offers visitors further insight into the Bakone people, a sub-group of the BaSotho. The village has been reconstructed in a style that was typical about 250 years ago. Run by several BaSotho who live in the village, the centre offers a warm and authentic welcome from people happy to share their current, as well as historic, way of life with you.
The organised tour of the Bakone Malapa Museum begins with a visit to an area recreating the modern ways of a BaSotho family. Here, within the lapa, you will see the separate thatched brick and mortar bedroom, kitchen and living room. Floors are still made from a mix of mud and cow dung, as they have been for hundreds of years. You will then be given a view of life as it was 250 years ago.
You can expect to learn how fire is made, how beer is brewed and how maize is ground. Handcraft demonstrations such as woodcarving, pottery, basketry and beadwork are popular and a craft shop sells locally produced crafts at a reasonable price.
Tours are conducted at set times throughout the day. Most guides are skilled in the African tradition of story telling and will answer all your questions about the cultural aspects of the life of the BaSotho.
Travel tips & Planning info
Who to contact
How to get here
The Bakone Malapa Museum is approximately 9km from Polokwane on the R37 (Burgersfort Road) and is easily accessible by road.
Around the area
There's plenty to see and do in the area, including the Polokwane Game Reserve, Chuene Crocodile Farm, Makapansgat Caves and the Modjadji Rainforest.
Self-drive is best though a number of local tour operators visit the museum regularly.
Length of stay
The open-air museum is worth at least 1 hour's wandering around.
What to pack
Plenty of sunscreen and a hat are musts no matter the time of year. If you plan to explore the area make sure to bring comfortable walking shoes or boots.
Where to stay
Polokwane offers a wide range of accommodation, from backpackers hostels to luxury hotels. Just outside Polokwane are numerous game lodges that offer accommodation in a bushveld setting.
Check the listed Go Limpopo website for even details in this area during the time of your visit.
You're in the heart of tropical fruit country: litchis, mangoes, paw-paws and avocados abound.