This tour takes travellers to Elim, Levubu, Thohoyandou and surrounding villages, where many workshops of artists and crafters are located. 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 workshops and homesteads in the villages. A tour guide 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, close to Elim market is at the homestead of Sasavona Kubayi who still practices the skills of traditional grass weaving. She produces traditionally shaped Tsonga baskets in various sizes. She lives with her children and grand children and she encourages them to learn the skills of basket weaving so they can earn some income for themselves.
Driving in the direction of Levubu and Malamulele the route passes the village of Mashau where David Murathi lives. Mostly working from his yard he carves sculptures, fish and other beautiful objects. His homestead, workshop and small gallery with many sculptures, wooden fish, towel racks, hooks and mirrors are worthwhile to visit. His inspiration is lead by his dreams and ancestral spirits and each object that he carves is an artwork in itself. David knows a lot about traditional healing and in his garden grow many indigenous and medicinal plants.
From David’s place the road continues in the direction of Vuwani and Thohoyandou and after passing the bridge across the Luvuvhu river, a sign to Noria Mbasa appears. She runs a large gallery at her homestead in Vuwani and visitors mostly find her at work there, carving large wooden sculptures.
The next destination is Thohoyandou, previously the capital of the Venda homeland. Nowadays Thohoyandou had developed into a vibrant and modern town, with many shops representing all South African brands. In the meantime Thohoyandou keeps its rural and traditional atmosphere, especially at the market behind the old shopping centre. Women sell vegetables, herbs, medicines, traditional pots and baskets and the place is full of colourful stalls where they sew traditional Venda attire. Visitors can take a break in the pleasant garden of the Khoroni Hotel before driving back to Louis Trichardt.
From Thohoyandou the route returns on the R 524 in the direction of Louis Trichardt. A stop can be made at the fruit market near Tshakuma.
Additional loop to Japhter Luvhimbi: he lives and works near Shayandima. His house and workshop are very difficult to find, so visitors definitely need a tour guide. He carves sculptures, traditional head rests and walking sticks. His technical skills are at such an advanced level that he is able to use the very hard lead wood to create his wood carvings. Recently he started to specialise himself in wooden jewellery, also from lead wood and he works with jewellery designers from Johannesburg.
Places of interest
Thohoyandou Art and Culture centre, along the R 524 in the direction of Punda Maria
University of Venda, in the centre of Thohoyandou
Traditional healer near Tshakuma market
Royal Macadamia factory along the R 524 to Louis Trichardt, macadamia nuts and oil are for sale here and the factory can be visited by appointment.
The Earth Sense Holistic Haven at Shiluvari Lakeside Lodge
Distance: 150 kilometers
Tour guide: advisable
Level of adventure: moderate
Car: normal car