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TThe Venda people called their home Dzata’, or the Good Place’, and most visitors to northern Limpopo province readily concur. From stunning green landscapes boasting mountains, rivers, lakes and waterfalls to the ancient myths and histories of the people who have lived here for centuries, it has much to offer holidaymakers. 

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 this region – some speculate that it was carried to the site by slaves when the Venda migrated from central Africa more than 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 2 guardians: Nethathe the white lion (a former chief) and Ndadzi, the lightning bird who, it is said, 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. 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 so sacred that newcomers must turn their backs and view the lake through their legs. Fortunately for less spry travellers, the best place to see the lake is from the surrounding mountains, where these strictures won’t apply. 

If you have not had your fill of legend, stop and take a look at Mpephu's Village, but only from the roadside – no one other than 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 to the Venda people. 

Did You Know?

TTravel tips & Planning  info 

How to get here

Thohoyandou – ‘the head of the elephant’ in Tshivenda, the language of the Venda people – was the capital of the former ‘independent homeland’ of Venda during apartheid. It’s around 5 to 6 hours by car from Johannesburg, heading north on the N1. 

Get around

Self-drive is the best way to explore the area, so hire a car if necessary. There are also tours that cover the route, if you prefer. 

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 

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