This tour takes the traveler to Elim, and via Chavani and Bungeni to the Letaba dam, home to many artists and crafters. We advise to make use of the services of a local tour guide, since many places are not that easy to find and a guide provides easy access to the artists' workshops and homesteads in the villages. A tour guide can be booked at Madi a Thavha Mountain lodge.
The tour starts at Elim market to get a feel of the local atmosphere: women selling fruit and vegetables, hair dressers, the local shebeen and the taxi bus station.
The next stop is at Lucky Makamu's homestead. Signs along the R 578, just after the turn off to Mashamba and Rivierplaats will lead travellers to his place. Besides being a wood carver, Lucky is a nice entertainer and it is interesting to hear his ideas about life in a rural area. Notice his nice creative road signs, all made from scrap materials.
From Lucky Makuma, the route leads to another artist named Lucky. His name is Lucky Ntimani, a woodcarver, musician and traditional story teller. He usually works at his home or in the gallery he runs at his mother's home stead. There is lots to see there: many small and large sculptures and musical instruments. His stories about the meaning of these sculptures are worthwhile to hear.
The next village Bungeni is the home of Hlamarisa Vuma. She is disabled and lives with her relatives at a homestead that's always very much alive with women stamping peanuts, cooking food, and drying vegetables while Hlamarisa sits on a grass mats doing bead work. She gets orders from traditional healers and she is beading garments for people in the village. She also likes more modern work.
After having passed the Letaba dam, the drive continues in the direction of Nobelshoek where Johannes Maswanganyi has his workshop. From carving traditional objects, Johannes moved to art work and started carving images of animals and people. His wooden, colourfully painted sangoma’s and political figures are famous. Johannes appreciates visitors in his homestead, workshop and gallery, where he lives with his two wives, Anna and Esther and their children. Anna and Esther are very experienced and creative beaders, making traditional and contemporary minceka’s, bowls and necklaces.
After the visit to Johannes the route returns along the R 578 in the direction of Elim and Louis Trichardt.
Places of interest
Visit the local primary and secondary school in Chavane, the village of Florence Matchume.
Playing traditional musical instruments and listening to traditional stories with Lucky Ntimani.
Distance: 150 kilometers
Tour guide: needed
Level of adventure: moderate
Car: normal car