Limpopo Wildlife & Cultural Tour (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 northeastern part of the country under glorious African skies, with time in the game-rich Northern Kruger area. Then head south 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 – Hoedspruit to Modjadji
We will meet you at Hoedspruit Airport, off the lunch-time flight. The group will meet their guide and be transferred towards Tzaneen, in the direction of Modjadjiskloof. You will travel through various local villages, up towards the Cycad Reserve, where you will be spending the night. After check-in, the 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 If the group are interested, 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.
Hoedspruit to Modjadji Camp: Drive distance and time: 140km / 2 hours
Day Two – Modjadji – Magoebaskloof – Nahakwe
After breakfast (and an optional morning walk in the reserve) your guide will take you through the nearby Magoebaskloof. Farmstalls, eateries and craft shops abound. At your request options like a visit to a local craft brewery or the organic cheese diary is available. Looking for an adrenaline activity? The Magoebaskloof Zipline offers a stunning 11 slides over the forest canopy. By mid-afternoon head 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.
Modjadji – Magoebaskloof – 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. Included in the itinerary is a full half-day hands-on learning experience where you spend time with a master crafter, learning their skills. 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. A lunch option is at 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.
Nahakwe – Ribola Art Route – Nahakwe: 100kms / 3 hours
Day Four – Nahakwe – Venda Rural – Fundudzi Camp
After an early breakfast you will leave Nahakwe, heading north through rural Venda and past some of Venda’s most beautiful and sacred places with the local guides teaching 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. There’s an option for a light meal or just a drink at the local tavern where the 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 an option. By this point of the trip you will be seeing the full value of your own guide who will help craft and direct the days to your specific interests. Get to Awelani Lodge in time to enjoy its 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 optional 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 – Baleni
Leave Awelani after breakfast and travel south to Baleni Camp. Your guide is available to customize the route to your interests including the option of visiting a local market in Giyani as you drive south. 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 – 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 the 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 minerals from which the salt is harvested.
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 Letaba Ranch, a Big 5 reserve that’s unfenced from Kruger, and in the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park.
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. The guides will escort you back to your tent when you are ready for bed.
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 Big5 reserve.
Baleni – Mtomeni: 45kms / 1hour (plus game drive)
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, its 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 traditionally the 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 – Hoedspruit
After breakfast you will continue with your guide back to Hoedspruit, and ready to start the next leg of your journey.
Mtomeni –Hoedspruit: 120kms / 1.5 hour