Stories of Eastern Limpopo


4 Nights / 5 Days Guided Package

Departures on Mondays from Polokwane

Experience the stories of Nwamitwa, Nahakwe, Elim and Giyani, including the legendary Modadji – Rain Queen of the Bolobedu with this colourful 4-night/5-day package. The package includes picnic lunches, traditional food and entertainment, as well as interactions with the local residents. The package starts in Polokwane and ends in Phalaborwa and follows some of the lesser explored routes of Limpopo.

Day 1: Polokwane to Nwamitwa

Depart Polokwane International Airport and drive through the centre of Polokwane for a whirlwind tour of the city en route to Magoebaskloof. You will hear stories of some of the oldest buildings in the city – the First National Bank and the Irish House – as well as the Peter Mokaba stadium, before taking the road to the mountains. We arrive in Haenertsburg and stop for lunch at the delightful Minki’s Coffee Shop in the village. After lunch we depart via the scenic Magoebaskloof to Letsitele for a visit of the Kaross studio. We hear the story of Irma Van Rooyen who provided an opportunity for skilled embroiderers in the local community to earn a living from their craft. There is an opportunity to buy some of the beautiful works of art.

Our accommodation for the evening is the African Calabash Lodge in Nwamitwa, where we have a traditional dinner, complemented by entertainment in the form of local dancers and story tellers.

Day 2: Modjadji and a game of Moruba

We have a relaxed breakfast at African Calabash Lodge before checking out. We leave Nwamitwa and take a leisurely drive to Ga-Modjadji – the home of the Rain Queen. She is the only female Queen in Africa and her rain-making powers are believed to be the reason for her tribe’s prosperity.

We visit the Palace with a local guide to ensure that our clients gain an insider perspective into life in the Royal Palace of Modjadji. He also explains some of the traditions and beliefs of the Balobedu people, including the ‘hut-opening’ ceremony to determine the royal successor.

The Modjadji cycad (Encephalartos transvenosus) occurs in this area, and can be seen growing in large clusters on the surrounding hills which includes the Modjadji Cycad Reserve.

After our tour we head to the Mamaila Bar Lounge near Nahakwe Lodge (where we will be staying for the night). This is host to one of the biggest out-door moruba boards in use in Limpopo. For those interested to learn, a local expert is on hand to show them how to play, while the others can soak up the atmosphere. Lunch can be bought from the ladies who sell ‘dust chicken and Amagwinya (vetkoeks)’.

We stay at Nahakwe Lodge for the night, which is owned by the local community. Whilst having dinner, a local story teller enlightens us about the community that owns the lodge.

Day 3: Ribolla Art Route – Get Crafty!

We check out of the Nahakwe Lodge after breakfast and travel to Mbokota Village, where Twananani Textiles has been producing cloths, pillowcases and traditional clothing for 20 years.  Combining Batik, block printing, embroidery, beading and painting by hand, these ladies create colourful and creative textiles with iconic Tsonga and Venda symbols and animals.  Here we are taught the art of textile design in an interactive, hands-on way by Ma Florence and the young and dynamic, Amu, Molly and Tsakani.

We are soon heading along the dusty village roads, dodging chickens, cows and taxis to Mukondeni Pot Village.  Here, the Matriarch, Sarah Munyai, has taught the women of the village to create clay pots in the age-old way by in a fire pit.  These practical and decorative pots, platters, vases, fire-pots and water filters are decorated with traditional patterns and symbols using ochre and graphite collected from the Luonde mountains.  Here Florah Randela will show us how to make a pot and feel the joy of clay between our fingers becoming a work of art.  We are taught how to decorate a bowl or pot and get to take it home.

The Roadside Restaurant 'Caesar's Chicken' provides us with a delicious lunch of flame-grilled chicken, pap and marogo.

After an inspiring morning connecting with our creative selves, we head to Shiluvari Lakeside Lodge on a scenic roller-coaster ride of spectacular views between mountains. It is here at the Albasini Dam where the sunset cruise heads off towards the sunset.  Bird and nature guide, Samson Mulaudzi takes us up-stream to the spot where hippos gather before they go ashore to forage.   Here we will enjoy sundowners and snacks with Samson, to the resounding call of the Fish Eagle echoing across the blazing water.

Shiluvari is also our home for the night, and dinner is served in the company of a local story-teller, as usual!

Day 4: Giyani

We leave Shiluvari after breakfast and head to Giyani. This is the seat of the Mopani district municipality, and the name means ‘a place where people dance’ and ‘a land of friendly people’. We meet a local guide that will take us to some of the local attractions.

We start at the Mavalani Village with the Nsimbhi family – traditional blacksmiths – that tell us more about their ancient craft. Following a lesson in historical mining, we meet with the Makumbani traditional dance group in nearby Shiluvani village  Our guide will help to interpret the stories, traditions, histories and myths associated with Tsonga traditional music, dancing, singing, drumming and musical instruments.

For lunch, we head to the vibrant rural Giyani CBD, stop at a chisanyama hut and enjoy Tsonga township steak, grilled chicken and pap, while buying Tsonga traditional art and crafts made by rural and township crafters.

After lunch, we head to at the Hihlurile Pot of Beads, a craft centre specialising in Tsonga Traditional Bead Work, Embroidery and Traditional Clothing. Visitors can learn about the stories, histories, traditions and myths associated with beads, bead work, embroidery and traditional clothes, as well as about the historical connections with beads as trade goods and Vatsonga People as the trade-middlemen of the ancient East Coast trade networks. Visitors can also interact with the crafters.

We then head to the Thomo Heritage Park, a traditional Living Iron Age Cultural Village showcasing a Tsonga traditional village homestead layout, traditional structures and objects. We experience live demonstration of customs and living heritage traditions. Our guide provides information about the history and the heritage of Vatsonga people in relation to the heritage sites, historical places, trade goods and destinations around Giyani relating to the age-old well-trodden international trade routes networks and economic systems that connected the hinterlands of Southern Africa with the South-East Coast. 

We enjoy a Tsonga traditional dinner and experience an evening cultural theatre of traditional music, drumming and dance around the fire before heading to our accommodation for the night.

We stay at Xisaka Guest House. ‘Xisaka’ means ‘nest’ in Xitsonga, and our gracious host is Ms Pat Dlamini who is known for her cooking in the Giyani area!

Day 5: Baleni

We have breakfast at Xisaka before visiting the last attraction of our trip – Baleni – where sacred salt is harvested in the traditional manner.

Salt harvesting at Baleni starts by leaving a gift at the foot of the Leadwood tree (called Motswiri) to thank the ancestors for nature's bounty.

Using 2000 year old techniques, the local Tsonga people collect salt-encrusted sand and leach it with water (called Ntsobe) through filters (called Xinjhava) made with clay (called Nwahuva) and leaves (called Nhlangula). The filtered water is boiled to evaporation, leaving the pure crystals of Baleni Sacred Salt.

The harvesting takes place on tribal land and is a resource open to any member of the community who follows the ancient traditions. Salt is harvested during the dry winter months and sold by the individual producers directly to locals and traditional healers who revere its healing properties. Chefs in Michelin-starred restaurants also use Baleni Sacred Salt for speciality dishes.

Upon the conclusion of our visit to Baleni, we depart for Phalaborwa, where our tour ends.

Package details

Highlights:

  • Visit the Kaross embroidery studio in Letsitele
  • Traditional dancing in Nwamitwa
  • Learn to play moruba while eating amagwinya
  • Craft experiences on the Ribola Art Route
  • Visit an ancient blacksmith family in Mavalani Village
  • Makumbani traditional dance group
  • Lunch in vibrant rural Giyani
  • Hihlurule Pot of Beads
  • Baleni salt experience
  • Story tellers during dinner every night
  • Personal, authentic interaction with locals & their traditions and guided by local experts

Package includes:

  • 1 nights’ accommodation each at African Calabash Lodge, Nahakwe Lodge, Shiluvari Lodge and Xisaka Guest House on a dinner, bed & breakfast basis
  • All activities and entertainment
  • 4 Lunches
  • Entrance fees where relevant
  • Local guides, where relevant

Package excludes:

  • Connecting travel to Polokwane and from Phalaborwa
  • Meals not specified
  • Personal purchases and gratuities

Net Rates for a group of 8-12 people. Valid till end December 2018

  • R14 999 per person, sharing for the itinerary above, including transport and tour guide.
  • Self-drive rates are available, though we recommend making use of a guide as rural roads are not well sign-posted.
  • Larger groups or different itineraries to be quoted on request.
  • Additional activities can be added to the itinerary at an additional rate.
  • Terms and conditions apply.