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IIn recent times Limpopo has taken its rightful place as a sought-after tourist destination with big game, brilliant birding, untamed bush landscapes, a marvellous ancient African kingdom, places of myth and legend, and as the northern gateway to Kruger National Park.
It is South Africa’s northernmost province and one of its wildest (wildest in terms of immense untamed landscapes).
Because of its malaria-free game parks, the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Mapungubwe (possibly Southern Africa’s first-ever kingdom), its cultural heritage steeped in myth and legend, and its fascinating mountain ranges, it is now a drawcard for travellers who are seeking roads less travelled.
LLimpopo is now home to one of South Africa’s most popular and malaria-free Big Five destinations – the Waterberg, a high plateau in the west of the province surrounded by bushveld that is a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.
Limpopo is also known for its rich cultural heritage. You’ll find woodcarvers, potters, intricate beadwork, legends and myths, and even a Rain Queen, the hereditary female ruler of the Modjadji people, who is held to have the power to make rain.
The southern slopes of the far northern Soutpansberg mountains have a subtropical climate with lush farms growing macadamia nuts and avocados, although higher up you’ll find more typical mountain scenery with gorges, waterfalls and hillsides, where more than 550 species of trees flourish. Because of its unique ecosystems, the area is designated a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.
Mapungubwe and the northern Kruger
The UNESCO World Heritage Site of Mapungubwe is tucked into the far north-west corner of the province, next to the Limpopo River that borders with Botswana and Zimbabwe. Here are the remains of an ancient African kingdom that traded gold and ivory with people from the East. In the eastern corner of this province is the northern region of the Kruger National Park, South Africa’s premier game reserve. This part of the park has a unique character and is famous for its beautiful baobab trees, birdlife and large herds of elephant and buffalo.
Polokwane, Limpopo’s capital city, in the centre of the province, is the commercial, administrative and agricultural hub of the region. It has wide streets, colourful flowering trees, shopping malls, offices and fast-flowing traffic on the way to and from the Zimbabwean border.