Limpopo is home to no less than three national parks: the Kruger National Park, the Marakele National Park and the Mapungubwe National Park.
The province gives travellers access to the northern part of the Kruger National Park. The Kruger’s two northernmost gates are in north-east Limpopo: Pafuri and Punda Maria. They lead to the tiny camp of Punda Maria, one of the park’s prettiest. Find great baobab trees and fever tree forests along the banks of the Luvuvhu River, teeming game, and the best birding in the park with some sought-after endemic species.
The Big Five can also be found in the Marakele National Park, although not always as easy to spot as in the more frequented Kruger. But it’s your only opportunity in a South African national park to see the rare subspecies of black rhino (Diceros bicornis minor). Sable, tsessebe, gemsbok and red hartebeest are also found here.
The Mapungubwe National Park is of significant cultural and historical importance – it was home to a prosperous African civilisation as far back as 1200AD. Golden objects were discovered at this UNESCO World Heritage Site, which is one of the most important archaeological sites in the country. There’s also good game, great birding and excellent park accommodation.
Kruger National Park
This is the most famous of South Africa’s game reserves. Old Africa hands claim that the northern part of the park, in Limpopo, is its wildest and most diverse.
This UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, one of South Africa’s top conservation areas, is malaria-free Big Five country. Stay at the very affordable Marakele National Park or opt for the privately owned Welgewonden Game Reserve, and spot game, hundreds of birds, trees and plants, on guided game drives, horse rides or walks.
Marakele National Park
You’ll find the highest peaks of the Waterberg in this catchment area of five rivers. Marakele is a very wild, dramatic park with rich vegetation, deep valleys, open grasslands and woodlands. The Big Five are all here.
Mapungubwe National Park
Once upon a time, between 1200AD and 1270AD, in this remote north-western corner of Limpopo, a wealthy and thriving Iron Age kingdom traded as far afield as India, China and Egypt.
This mountainous area, designated part of the Vhembe Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO because of its unique, rich biodiversity, is a natural wilderness with approximately 580 species of trees, great birdlife (including raptors) and some small mammals.
Once a lush tropical paradise and still brimming with biodiversity, this beautiful valley is also home to many ancient caves, not only full of animal and plant fossils, but also with hominid fossils that date back 3.3-million years and link to Gauteng’s Cradle of Humankind. Anyone who has the remotest interest in the story of humankind should make a stop here.
Modjadji Cycad Reserve
Home to some of the oldest and biggest cycads on Earth, the reserve offers walks, game and a variety of bird species.
The African Ivory Route
This legendary old route of ivory hunters and gold traders that curves in a giant horseshoe for some 2 000km along the eastern, northern and western boundaries of the province is strictly for the adventure traveller. Navigate the often extremely rugged terrain in your hired 4×4, hike, or take a guided trip. There’s plenty of accommodation, awesome scenery, excellent big game, abundant birdlife, and splendid isolation.
Limpopo is South Africa’s northernmost province, and is bordered by Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Botswana.
The beauty of Limpopo
Limpopo is blessed with scenic beauty and great biodiversity.
One of its most diverse and attractive offerings is the Waterberg, a 14 500km2 area of spectacular scenery and biodiversity. Old farms and ranches have been converted by local landowners and now form the Waterberg Biosphere Reserve – one of South Africa’s top conservation projects, which is teeming with game (it’s malaria-free Big Five country), birds and hundreds of plant species. It is home to the Marakele National Park and the privately owned Welgewonden Game Reserve.
Further north, the mountainous Soutpansberg area forms part of the Vhembe Biosphere Reserve. Like the Waterberg, it is an area of great biodiversity, and offers the traveller more than 550 species of trees, hundreds of species of birds, waterfalls and mountain scenery. This is a great place to unwind and immerse oneself in a serene wilderness experience.
And should you want to see some of the oldest and biggest cycads on Earth, then the 530ha Modjadji Nature Reserve north-east of Tzaneen is the place to go. When there’s no mist, you can gaze out high over the cycad forest to the Kruger National Park and the Lowveld beyond. Twelve kilometres of accessible walks take you down from the forest to the grassland below where waterbuck, blue wildebeest, impala and bushbuck roam, plus 170 bird species. The fabled Rain Queen lives next door, so keep your eyes peeled.
Soutpansberg area forms part of the Vhembe Biosphere Reserve, and offers the traveller more than 550 species of trees, hundreds of species of birds, waterfalls and mountain scenery.
Waterberg Biosphere Reserve
The Waterberg offers spectacular scenery and biodiversity
The Big Five
The Waterberg Biosphere Reserve – one of South Africa’s top conservation projects, which is teeming with game is also a malaria-free Big Five country.
Modjadji Nature Reserve
If you want to see some of the oldest and biggest cycads on Earth, then the 530ha Modjadji Nature Reserve north-east of Tzaneen is the place to go.
Marakele National Park
A hippo yawns in a river at Marakele National Park Polokwane is the capital of Limpopo.