A Colourful Experience

Discover the rich culture, history and nature of the Soutpansberg,
Northern Limpopo, South Africa.
Mapungubwe: UNESCO World Heritage site

Mapungubwe National Park

This is the route to the ancient Kingdom of Mapungubwe, South Africa's first Kingdom, which existed in the 13th century from about 1220 to 1290AD, on top of Mapungubwe Hill. It is here where gold artefacts, including the Golden Rhino and other treasures have been discovered, revealing a sophisticated civilisation that was capable of working gold and traded with the Indian Ocean trade network that included the countries of Arabia, China, Indonesia and India. 

The Mapungubwe Landscape was declared a World Heritage Site in 2003,  confirming the international importance given to this area to ensure that the natural bio-diversity of the fauna and flora, as well as the African Iron Age archaeological sites are preserved for future generations to learn about and enjoy. However, the Mapungubwe Route is not only the road to the ancient Kingdom. It is also the road to one of South Africa’s newest national parks, the Mapungubwe National Park that incorporates the World Heritage Site. The northern boundary of the Park is the Limpopo River. This once mighty river’s banks are still strewn about with giant fever trees, mashatu trees and huge sycamore figs. The view point overlooking the confluence of the Shashe and Limpopo rivers is a vista where three countries, Zimbabwe, Botswana and South Africa, meet. The area boasts an impressive landscape including sandstone cliffs, balancing rocks, riverine forests, mopane bushveld and views of the Limpopo River. Wildlife at present includes elephant, giraffe, eland, gemsbok, blue wildebeest, red hartebeest, zebra, kudu, waterbuck, impala, bushbuck, klipspringer and other plains game.  The park offers facilities for both overnight visitors and day visitors

From Madi a Thavha Mountain Lodge follow the R 522 to Vivo, the southern road along the Soutpansberg Mountains with magnificent mountains and rock formations. Further on this road lies Buysdorp, a small coloured community from the Cape who settled there in the early nineteenth century. Vivo is a small farmers village, not more than a crossing of roads, where you find a petrol station and a good butchery that also sells jams, chutneys, dried fruit and nuts. From Vivo you drive to Alldays, another small farmers village, where you can stop at one of the small eating places that are run by the farmers.In Alldays you take the R 572 in the direction of Pontdrif, the Botswana border. Just before the border post you turn to the right and after a few kilometres you see  Mapungubwe National park on your left side.

After your visit to Mapungubwe national park, turn to the left and follow the R 572 to Musina. From Musina you take the N 1 to the south, after a few kilometres you find Musina Nature Reserve on the left side of the road. In this reserve that is established to preserve the baobabs in the area you find over a hundred mature specimens of this fascinating tree. You follow the N 1 in the direction of Louis Trichardt (Makhado), you pass the tunnels that lead you through the Soutpansberg mountains. In Louis Trichardt you take the R 522 in the direction of Vivo, to return to Madi a Thavha Mountain Lodge.


Places of interest

Baobab trees along the route
Musina Baobab Reserve
Impressive Rock Figs grow out of huge rocks while some of their roots flow over the rock surface.
Mapungubwe interpretation centre
Bird watching
Cultural heritage tour to Mapungubwe hill
Confluence look out
Tree top walk
Guided walks
Mountain bike tours
Game viewing

Distance:380 kilometres
Tourguide: not needed
Level of adventure: low
Car: normal car