Land of the Venda
Did you know?
The most famous of the Venda traditional dances is the "python", or domba, an initiation dance for girls.
The Dzata ruins are the remains of the first South African Venda settlement in the area. They were built from blue stone that is not found in the area. Some speculate that it was carried to the site by slaves when the Venda migrated from central Africa over 600 years ago.
Further up the road in the land of the Venda is the Thathe Vondo forest, a sacred place said to be full of sprites and protected by two guardians: Nethathe the white lion (a former chief) and Ndadzi, the lightning bird who, it is told, flies on the wings of thunder.
Inside the forest is the sacred lake of Fundudzi, home of the mythical python, a fertility god. It is said that a young Venda man whose heart was broken after losing his great love walked into the lake and turned into the snake of legend. The young Venda women still perform the Venda-Domba dance of fertility to this day.
Outsiders are required to get special permission from the Venda to visit the lake. It is considered to be so sacred that newcomers must turn their backs and view the lake through their legs. Fortunately for travellers the best place to see the lake is from the surrounding mountains.
If you have not had your fill of legend, stop and take a look at Mpephu's Village from the roadside. No one other than the Venda people may enter. It is the burial place of the Venda chiefs and is looked after by Venda women.
The Phiphidi Falls, also on the same route, is an exquisite place to sit back and relax amid the lush forests of the area. Remember to respect this beautiful spot in the home of the Venda as it is sacred and special - and not just for the Venda people.
Travel tips & Planning info
How to get here
Thohoyandou is around five to six hours by car from Johannesburg.
Car hire is the best way to explore the area. There are also loads of tours that cover the route.
Length of stay
Give yourself several days to explore the area and possibly visit the northern part of the Kruger National Park too.
What to pack
Walking shoes, a swimming costume, a camera, sunscreen