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TThe Mopani region, incorporating the Valley of the Olifants, takes its name from a small edible worm called the mopani, whereas the Valley of the Olifants is named after the Olifants (elephants) River, which cuts its way through steep mountains and then flows through the Kruger National Park.
Mopani is bounded by the towns of Phalaborwa, Hoedspruit and Tzaneen, and includes sections of the majestic Northern Drakensberg, parts of the Kruger National Park and an eastern chunk of the Blyde River Canyon. There are vast tracts of bushveld, great sideways thrusts of mountains, dramatic cliffs, proverbially mighty rivers − this is definitely territory for photographers.
Apart from sheer panoramic beauty, Mopani is also rich in culture and history. The village of Modjadji, nearby Tzaneen, is the realm of the ancient Rain Queen, famed for her rain-making powers, and the Balobedu people who settled here in the late 16th century. Modjadji is also home to a unique slope of rare cycad species (Encephalartos trasnvenosus), unique to this area. Take a stroll through the Modjadji Cycad Reserve to see these majestic plants that date back to the time of the dinosaur.
Mopani’s towns of Giyani, Phalaborwa and Hoedspruit, are all centres for surrounding wilderness areas, game reserves and conservation and wildlife projects. The Hans Merensky Golf Course near Phalaborwa, adjoins the Kruger National Park, and golfers often wait for the game to clear the course before they tee off.
Travel tips & planning info
Who to contact
Limpopo Tourism and Parks Board
Tel: +27 (0)15 290 2010
How to get here
There are daily flights from Johannesburg to Hoedpsruit and Phalaborwa. By road from Johannesburg take the N1 to Polokwane. Shortly before Polokwane take the R71 to Tzaneen which is a further 90km
Best time to visit
Mopani has a subtropical climate and can get very hot in summer. The best time to visit is spring or autumn, although game viewing is excellent in the winter months
Things to do
Take a day drive into the Kruger National Park; go on a guided tour of Modjadji and the famous rare cycads; see endangered species at the Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre; encounter orphaned animals at Moholoholo Rehabilitation Centre.
What to pack
Hats, sunscreen, walking shoes, cameras and binoculars.
Where to stay
Sefapane Lodge in Phalaborwa is just a minute from the Kruger National Park and offers thatched chalets in a pleasant bushveld setting with a bar in the pool. Kings Walden Garden Manor outside Tzaneen has incredible mountain views and glorious gardens. Tshukudu Lodge near Hoedspruit is a family-friendly spot set in a conservancy that rehabilitates orphaned and injured wildlife
What to eat
Yum Yum restaurant in Tzaneen offers excellent contemporary fusion cuisine in a delightful bistro setting. The Cotton Club Cafe, near Hoedpsruit, overlooks the Blyde River Canyon and has wholesome country fare. Mad Dogz Cafe on the R527 Hoedspruit road, is an Afro-chic bistro with an arts and craft centre.
- Phalaborwa Tourism Council
- Limpopo Tourism Authority
- Hans Merensky Golf Estate
- Blyde Canyon Adventure Centre
- Magoebaskloof Tourism
- Sefapane Lodge
- Kings Walden Gardens Manor
- Tshukudu Lodge
SANParks – Kruger National Park
- Mad Dogz Cafe
- Modjadji Cycad Reserve
- Moholoholo Rehabilitation Centre
- Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre