Things to do near
Makhado (Louis Trichardt)
*Distances are shown as the crow flies and not necessarily the actual travelling
Soutpansberg (12.3 km from Makhado (Louis Trichardt))
Mashovhela, also traditionally known as “the place where the drums can be heard”, is the second most sacred place in Venda folklore. This sacred site is still used occasionally by sangomas in rain-making ceremonies. A few years ago the sangomas beat their drums - shortly after which Venda had the heaviest rains and most devastating floods in living memory.!According to Venda lore, the legendary and powerful King Thohoiyanda had a mystical drum, Ngoma Lungundo ('drum of the dead'). As his enemies approached this drum was beaten and his foes just dropped dead.One night, King Thohoiyanda and the sacred drum mysteriously disappeared from his royal kraal. Neither were ever seen again. It is believed he disappeared into the Western Soutpansberg, where Mashovhela Lodge is situated.Tradition has it that it is this sacred drum that can sometimes be heard in the echoes from the rock cliffs of Mashovhela Pool.Come and listen for the drum beating at Mashovhela.
Mountain Biking Trails
Polokwane (Pietersburg) (27 km from Makhado (Louis Trichardt))
An exciting activity offered by Nonyana Lodge and Safaris, this mountain bike trail has enough ups and downs to give you the extreme challenge you are looking for. Come and experience it for yourself.
The farm is situated in an area that is perfectly molded for mountain biking. Previous guests have reported the trail is very challenging. There is no fee to ride the trail, but you'll have to book at least 2 nights with Nonyana Lodge and Safaris.
Distance: roughly 20 km.
Elevation: roughly 800 m.
Photo: Mountain Biking at Drumlanrig by Simon Brooke, some rights reserved.
Thohoyandou (45.8 km from Makhado (Louis Trichardt))
Tramp through the Sacred Forest of Magoebaskloof
Easily one of the most stunning trails in the Limpopo, this four-day hiking trail will take you through the mountainous eastern fringe of the Soutpansberg.
The trail winds past a number of revered sites and the burial grounds of Venda chiefs.
A mystical atmosphere permeates the lush indigenous forest. Keen birders should keep a look out for glimpses of rare narina trogons and Knysna loeries.
A highlight is the spectacular views of the sacred Lake Fundudzi, a place so protected that special permission has to be obtained from the VhaVenda people to visit it.
Overnight camps are fairly basic but provide shelter and toilets. Contact the Louis Trichardt Tourism Office for details +27 (0)15 516 0040.
Thohoyandou (48.2 km from Makhado (Louis Trichardt))
One of South Africa’s largest natural lakes, Lake Fundudzi is situated near the northern part of the Soutpansberg. Visitors need special permission from Venda leaders to go there which makes its allure even more powerful.
The lake and its surrounding lush forests, waterfalls and mountains is imbued with a mystical and spiritual atmosphere. The area contains the burial grounds of Venda chiefs and the lake is believed to be the home of the great python fertility god who decides on the success of the Venda crops.
There is a wonderful viewpoint that overlooks Lake Fundudzi and the Sacred Forest. The best option is to take a tour with the locals or hike the Mabudashango Hiking Trail.
The four-day trail takes hikers through dense forest, awesome mountain scenery, gorgeous waterfalls, streams and pools with rich birdlife. Swimming in the lake is out of the question because of numerous large crocodiles!
Duiwelskloof (71 km from Makhado (Louis Trichardt))
Drink a pint inside the widest tree in the world! The legendary Sunland Baobab in Modjadjiskloof is internationally celebrated for being the widest of its species in the world. These magnificent trees evoke impressions of quintessential Africa, and if they could speak - many a fascinating tale could be told.Locals believe this baobab could be as old as 6000 years. Feasibly, it is most likely 1000 years old. Carbon dating from samples taken inside the hollows of the tree indicates that the tree was scorched by fires in 1650, 1750-1780, 1900, 1955 and 1990.Old baobabs eventually become hollow inside, and the Sunland Baobab has wonderful caverns within its incredibly wide girth. In 1993, the owners of Sunland Farm cleaned out the hollows and found artefacts of Bushmen and first white settlers.The spacious caverns were then turned into a pub and wine cellar - the famous Baobab Tree Bar and Wine Cellar! The ‘Baobar’ can accommodate up to 60 people. This unusual landmark has since become a popular tourist destination in the Limpopo Province. In spring, the Sunland Baobab produces beautiful, large flowers and attracts a variety of birds - including two pairs of owls.
Musina(Messina) (76.6 km from Makhado (Louis Trichardt))
Spot rare antelope and marvel at bizarre trees
Previously named Messina Baobab Forest Reserve for the highest density of baobab trees in South Africa, Musina Nature Reserve is also home to the rare sable antelope.
Other wildlife you are likely to see is giraffe, zebra, kudu, eland and other antelope. Drive the two-hour circular route or get on your mountain bike and check out the best baobab trees south of the Limpopo.
So can you unravel the mystery of the curious upside down tree? Much folklore about their secret power flourishes in the region. This amazing ‘tree of life’ provides for many creatures that eat the leaves and fruit, make homes in the bark, rest in the branches, and sip the nectar from the flowers.
Musina(Messina) (79.6 km from Makhado (Louis Trichardt))
Messina Golf Club is a well kept and interesting golf course at very reasonable tariffs. There is a nice club house and pub were you can mingle with the friendly local members.
Duiwelskloof (80.2 km from Makhado (Louis Trichardt))
Modjadji Cycad Reserve offers 12 km of well-maintained day trails from the cycad forest to the lower lying acacias and grasslands. Large antelope including blue wildebeest, waterbuck, nyala, impala and bushbuck can be seen along the trails. Keen birders will find plenty of opportunities to tick off some of the 170 species of forest and bushveld birds. Guided tours of Modjadji Cycad Reserve and the nearby village can be arranged at the little information centre.
Tzaneen (80.9 km from Makhado (Louis Trichardt))
Serenely situated on the scenic Hans Merensky Dam, Tzaneen Country Club is an undiscovered challenge for the serious golfer.
The course is alleged to be one of the fairest tests of golf around and should have the high and low handicapper alike urging to book the next round.
Rolling fairways and punishing but fair roughs merge to present a ‘shot makers’ ideal challenge.
A well stocked bar with a cosy fireplace creates a friendly setting for socialising after many rounds.
Tzaneen Country Club hosts some of the major tournaments on the PGA Winter Tour. Local and visiting golfers gather here every May for a weekend of golfing and good times at the annual Koraalboom Tournament.
Duiwelskloof (82.2 km from Makhado (Louis Trichardt))
Visit South Africa's own natural Jurassic Park, the Modjadji Cycad Forest, which has the largest concentration of a single cycad species in the world. This stunning 530 hectare reserve is home to some of the oldest and largest cycads in the world - some up to 13 metres high and bearing cones weighing in to up to 34 kilograms.Mysteriously situated near the home of the fabled Modjadji Rain Queen in the misty Lobedu Mountains, it's an awesome place to go walking or to chill out with a picnic basket. Between December and February these living fossil plants are in seed. When the mist lifts there are sweeping views over the cycad forest to the Lowveld and the Kruger National Park. Well constructed walks meander from the cycad forest to the acacia and grass lands below. Here you can spot large game such as blue wildebeest, waterbuck, nyala, impala and bushbuck. There's a good chance of seeing monkeys, dassies and bushpigs too. The birding is fantastic with over 170 species recorded.
Tzaneen (87.4 km from Makhado (Louis Trichardt))
Surrounded by nature reserve, Tzaneen Dam is a popular recreation spot for bird watchers, anglers, picnickers, water-sports. Enjoy a barbecue on the banks of the dam.
Magoebaskloof (87.9 km from Makhado (Louis Trichardt))
The Magoebaskloof Hiking Trail offers hikers the choice of several hike duration options that range from two to five days. The three-day 50 km circular trail winds through extensive indigenous forest and pine plantations, and past waterfalls, pristine mountain streams and pools.
Expect your jaw to drop at the magnificent scenery. Look out for bushbuck, bush pigs, Samango monkeys, and amazing birdlife, particularly in the Grootbosch Forest. The five-day option needs a high level of fitness to complete the trail. Family hikers should consider the less demanding two-day route.
Duration: 2 – 5 days
Difficulty: Moderate to difficult
Distance: 50 – 63 km
Galleries and Museums
Tzaneen (90.7 km from Makhado (Louis Trichardt))
Tzaneen Museum exhibits some ethnological artefacts such as weapons, pottery, African drums and utensils of the local Tsonga and North Sotho people.
Well-informed guides show visitors around and explain the Tsonga legends that are depicted in sculptures under the trees in the garden. The museum also possesses a very large number of pole carvings from the region, as well as some world-class woodcarvings and various artefacts from the mysterious minority tribe, the Lobedu, which was ruled by the Rain Queen.
Tzaneen (90.9 km from Makhado (Louis Trichardt))
Enjoy delicious cocktails and sun-downers when taking some time out in the bushveld of the Tzaneen area.
The themed Le Toues le Treq bar with its Rosa le Rouge painting is situated at Tzaneen Country Lodge.
Tzaneen (91.1 km from Makhado (Louis Trichardt))
Situated near the dense forests of the Magoebaskloof, the roaring Debengeni Falls is a magical spot for picnicking or swimming in the crystal pool.
Named for the deeply carved pool, Debengi means ‘place of the big pot'.
Right in the middle of hiking country, it’s also renowned for some rare species of birds. One of these is the colourful Grey Wagtail, a regular summer visitor to this pool.
An endemic bird that will get twitchers excited is the Bush Strike – only found here and in the Woodbush Forest nearby.
Other beautiful birds to tick off are the Chorister Robin and green Narina Trogon.