Limpopo Local Life (9 night/ 10 days)
Start in an ancient cycad forest, hearing the lore of Modjadji, the Rain Queen. Move on to the Art Route and experience Tsonga and Venda art & culture, learning new skills. Drive through deep rural Venda with a specialist guide and explore the baobab territory near the Limpopo river. Rest at the most north eastern part of the country under glorious African skies, with time in the game-rich Northern Kruger area. Then head south, through northern Kruger and on to the ancient salt harvesting site. And finally explore in a Greater Kruger Big5 reserve, walking, watching and observing nature. Over 10 days stay in the tourist accommodation of six different communities, meet the local people in their environments, wonder at the beautiful scenery and immerse yourself in the people and environment of north-eastern Limpopo Province of South Africa. All accommodation, guides, transport and activities are community owned, Fair Trade Tourism accredited and great fun
Day One – Phalaborwa to Modjadji
Your first night is in the Modjadji Cycad reserve in Modjajiskloof near Tzaneen. You will travel through various local villages, up towards the Cycad Reserve, where you will be spending the night. After check-in, the camp guides will take you on a walk through the reserve, giving you an amazing view of the magnificent cycads. Dinner will be provided in a local home, or the nearby Malopeni Entertainment Tavern. There will be a fire in camp when you return from dinner – a great place to sit while hearing the stories of the Modjadji Dynasty, and the history of the Rain Queen.
Modjadji Camp – You will sleep in a rondawel with 2 x ¾ beds with duvets & extra blankets. The en-suite facilities include a shower with gas-heated water, a flush loo and a basin. There is 12V lighting in the room with USB charging facilities.
Phalaborwa to Modjadji Camp: Drive distance and time: 130km / 2 hours
Day Two – Modjadji – Canopy Tour – Magoebaskloof – Nahakwe
After breakfast head off to the nearby George’s Valley for a morning of thrills – doing a canopy tour over the forest. After you have completed the 11 slides marveling at the indigenous forests and gorges below, visit a local craft brewery or the organic cheese diary (depending on who is open on the day). By mid-afternoon you’ll be heading down the Kudus River Valley, towards Nahakwe Lodge where you will spend the second night.
Nahakwe Lodge: Units – rooms with en-suite bathroom with shower and baths. Bedrooms have 2 x ¾ beds with blankets, bar fridge, tea & coffee facilities and TV in unit. Electricity 220V can charge any type of device. Central facilities include dining room, craft shop, pub & swimming pool. There is a walking trail around the property for exercise.
Modjadi – Canopy Tour – Nahakwe Lodge: 190 kms / 3 hours
Day Three – Ribola Art Route
Today you will visit the Ribola Art Route. After breakfast, you travel to the village of Mbhokota where you will meet and experience a variety of experiences with different groups of local artists. You will have the opportunity to learn to make traditional Tsonga ‘batik-style’ cloths, as well as get a basic lesson in carving or making jewelry from recycled materials. In addition, there will be time to visit other artists in the area with different creative skills. This will be the best time on the whole trip for purchasing authentic arts made by the people you will meet. Lunch will be had in a local diner and the last activity of the day will include a music extravaganza. At the end of the day you will head back to Nahakwe Lodge where you will have dinner before retiring for the night. (A local community host from the Ribola Art Route will spend the day with you, guiding, translating and enhancing your experience.)
Nahakwe – Ribola Art Route – Nahakwe: 100kms / 3 hours
Day Four – Nahakwe – Venda Rural – Fundudzi Camp
After breakfast you will leave Nahakwe, heading north along the famous Witvlag Road and past some of Venda’s most beautiful and sacred places. A local specialist guide will meet you so that you can go to the Sacred Forest and Lake Fundudzi, learning you about the amazing local traditions and attractions. By lunch time you will arrive in village of Makwarani where the local ladies will treat you to a traditional meal, cooked outdoors under a tree, and after lunch perform some of their traditional dances. You will drive to Fundudzi Camp late afternoon, and a light dinner will be served at the local tavern where the camp guides will take you to meet more of the locals.
Fundudzi Camp: Units Rondawels with 2x single beds with duvets and extra blankets. The rondawel has a simple en-suit with shower, flush toilet and basin. The light in the room is from portable solar lanterns. The communal area has a single unit to re-charge USB-charging devices. The camp is built on the side of a hill with stone steps between units. It is a natural ‘’keep fit circuit’’!
Nahakwe – Venda – Fundudzi: 200kms / 5 hours
Day Five – Fundudzi Camp – Awelani
This morning you have the opportunity to spend the morning further exploring this beautiful area of Venda. Consider a walk through the local village, or visits to some local crafters. On a different note the camp is above the magnificent Mukumbani tea Plantation and if it’s season, a fascinating visit to the plantation is an option. Get to Awelani Lodge in time to enjoy it’s swimming pool and easy walking amongst baobabs. It’s a beautiful place to get out of the vehicle and relax. Dinner is a braai in a cave.
Awelani Lodge: You will sleep in safari tents with en-suite ablutions. There will be 220V electricity to charge electronics. The Lodge communal area has a restaurant with pub, and a swimming pool.
Fundudzi Camp – Awelani: 100kms / 2 hours
Day Six – Awelani – Northern Kruger – Luvuvhu River Drive
Today has been dedicated to a full-day game drive in Kruger National Park. Awelani Lodge will provide breakfast and lunch packs so that you have the full day available to explore this fabulous, and relatively quiet part of Kruger. You’ll visit the Luvuvhu River Bridge, Pafuri Picnic Site and Crooks Corner. Spend part of the day quietly resting at the picnic site, watching the animal and bird movements in the river below.
Return to Awelani (which means “Place of Rest”) late afternoon for a quiet dinner in the dining room, and a second night.
Northern Kruger, allow 200kms / all day
Day Seven – Awelani – Via Punda Maria – Baleni
Leave Awelani after breakfast and travel south. The first part of the trip will be through Kruger National Park – all the better to see wild animals. You will leave the park at Punda Maria Gate, and then head south to Baleni Camp. On arrival in Baleni you will check in you will take a short drive to a local village where you will be welcomed to a local home where you will be entertained by the Tsonga women dancing and fed a traditional meal in a local home.
Baleni Camp: You will sleep in a rondawel with 2 x ¾ beds with duvets & extra blankets. The en-suite facilities include a shower with solar-heated water, a flush loo and a basin. There is 12V lighting in the room with USB charging facilities.
Awelani – via Kruger’s Punda Maria – Baleni: 250kms / 4.5 hours
Day Eight – Baleni – Mtomeni
After a leisurely breakfast, you will walk with the local guides down to meet the salt harvesters at a traditional salt harvesting site. These Tsonga ladies will show you how they make the salt and offer you an opportunity to learn some of the skills involved. After spending time with them you will also visit Mkulu, the geothermal hotspring that is that is the source of the salt.
This morning will be dedicated to an opportunity to get a sense of the rhythm of the local environment and time to see local artisanal practices that are a key source of the economic activity in the area. Later you will head to Mtomeni, a camp in a Big 5 reserve.
On arrival at Mtomeni Camp you will be met by the camp team who will check you into your safari tent and greeting and briefing. The afternoon game drive will last until sunset. After the drive you will return to the camp and dinner will be served. There will be a camp fire to enjoy.
Mtomeni facilities: Safari tent with en-suite ablutions. 2 x ¾ beds with duvets and additional blankets. Lighting 12V with USB-charging facilities. Entire camp is unfenced, and in a reserve.
Baleni – Mtomeni: 45kms / 1hour (plus game drive)
. The morning walk with the guide is an opportunity to get close to nature, her smells and sounds, and explore the world of the animals. The length of the walk will depend on interest and fitness, and you will return to camp mid to late morning, in time for a large brunch. The middle of the day is the traditional quiet time in the bush. Animals are sleeping and bird watching from the camp is beautiful. It’s also your time to relax, and maybe even have an afternoon snooze. You will start the afternoon game drive midafternoon and returning at sunset. The second evening in camp is also spent around the fire.
Day Nine – Mtomeni in a Big 5 reserve
Your last full day will be spent at Mtomeni Camp. You will be woken in time to get up and have a cup of coffee before embarking on a morning walk that starts at sunrise. The morning walk with the guide is an opportunity to get close to nature, her smells and sounds, and explore the world of the animals. The length of the walk will depend on interest and fitness, and you will return to camp mid to late morning, in time for a large brunch. The middle of the day is the traditional quiet time in the bush. Animals are sleeping and bird watching from the camp is beautiful. It’s also your time to relax, and maybe even have an afternoon snooze. You will start the afternoon game drive midafternoon and returning at sunset. The second evening in camp is also spent around the fire.
Day Ten – Mtomeni – Phalaborwa
After breakfast you will be ready to start the next leg of your journey. Return to Phalaborwa, or continue along another route. Mtomeni – Phalaborwa: 55kms / 1 hour