Shop for handmade curios, arts and crafts at Limpopo's Strijdom Tunnel. The tunnel is at the top of the Abel Erasmus Pass, which takes you along the edge of the Blyde River Canyon. Stop to browse through the street market, take photographs and admire the spectacular view.

Did you know?

The curio sellers at the Strijdom Tunnel come from the nearby village of Tshwenyane, one of Limpopo's poorest rural areas.

The Strijdom Tunnel is an unusual place to shop for curios. The tunnel is 800m above the Olifants River Valley, along the Abel Erasmus Pass in the Manoutsa section of the northern Drakensberg. 

There is a parking area here where you can stop to browse the wares of the local curio sellers, take photographs of the spectacular view and see a rare tufa waterfall.

Every day, women from nearby local villages travel up and down the Abel Erasmus Pass to set up their market stalls. They sell curios, arts and crafts that are made locally, including wooden bowls and spoons, beautiful cloths and carvings, and colourfully painted wooden figurines. You can also buy fresh fruit and cold drinks here.

The 133m-long Strijdom Tunnel was built in 1959 and is named after a former president of South Africa who was also a great proponent of South Africa becoming a republic.

The Abel Erasmus Pass itself dates back to the time of the gold rush when pioneers were trying to establish a route between the goldfields of Leydsdorp in Limpopo and Pilgrim's Rest in Mpumalanga.

From the roadside near the tunnels, keep an eye out for a tufa waterfall that plunges over the rocks. Tufa is a rare kind of waterfall that builds up calcium deposits as it flows.

Apart from the curio sellers outside the Stridjom Tunnel, there are other curio markets along the pass. 

After you exit the tunnel, heading on the R36 towards Ohrigstad, there is a coffee shop, Welcome CafĂ© Tswenyane, and the Afrikania art gallery, a community empowerment project designed to promote local arts and crafts. This is a good place to take a comfort break and stretch your legs.

The Abel Erasmus Pass marks the start of the Panorama Route which leads from Limpopo into Mpumalanga, along the edge of the Blyde River Canyon.

Travel tips & Planning info

Who to contact

Limpopo Tourism Authority
Tel: +27 (0)15 293 3600

Mpumalanga Tourism Authority
Tel: +27 (0)13 759 5300/01

Welcome Cafe Tswenyane and Afrikana Gallery
Cell: +27 (0)76 708 4453 (Damiao)

How to get here

From Tzaneen in the Limpopo province take the R36 signposted for Lydenberg. From Orighstad in the Mpumalanga province, take the R36 signposted for Tzaneen.

Best time to visit

The best time to stop and shop is late morning.

Around the area

If you are travelling into Mpumalanga, continue along the Panorama Route, a scenic drive that takes you along the edge of the Blyde River Canyon. Also nearby is the Kruger National Park and a host of private game and nature reserves.

Where to stay

There are plenty of good places to stay in Hoedpsruit, a small town that is a gateway to the central and northern regions of the Kruger National Park.

What to eat

The best stop over for sustenance in the vicinity of the Strijdom Tunnel is Graskop in Mpumalanga, which has plenty of bistros, restaurants, coffee shops and takeaway outlets. Alternatively you can buy beautifully fresh fruit from stalls dotted along the Abel Erasmus Pass.

What's happening

The Limpopo Marula Festival, held annually in February, happens in the town of Phalaborwa, an easy drive from the Strijdom Tunnel.

Best buys

Charming painted wooden statues from Strijdom Tunnel curio sellers.

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