Land of the friendly people
Giyani and surroundings
This organised tour takes the visitor to Giyani, the heart of South Africa's Tsonga people. After leaving Elim, 50 kilometers further along the R578, it is possible to visit one of Limpopo's famous woodcarvers, Johannes Maswanganyi. Take the R 578 from Elim to Giyani, pass the Middel Letaba dam, 3 kilometers after the dam turn to the right in the direction of Vuthari school, this is a gravel road. Follow this road for 8.5 kilometers, before arriving in a village called Nobelhoek. Turn right and follow this road to the left, where Johannes' homestead is located at the left side with sculptures around his house.
Giyani's location in the African Bushveld attracts a fair number of local and international visitors. The Giyani Golf course keeps Zebra, Girraffe, bushbuck and other herbivores. Viewing of these animals has not yet been commercialised, a living proof of the town's growth potential. At the moment, there are a number of Bed and Breakfast and Guest House facilities for tourist to relax and eat. Man'ombe Nature Reserve is located 6 km east of Giyani.
A unique overnight experience is possible at Baleni Ivory Route Camp. This camp is situated in the eastern Lowveld on the banks of the Klein Letaba River adjacent to the Baleni Natural Hot Spring, a sacred place about which legends abound and where local Shangaan women still produce salt the ancient way which was practised for 100’s of years. This traditional activity, is practised more during the winter months and can be observed by visitors to the camp. Exploring of the surrounding bush land by mountain bike or quad bike while dropping in on some of the rural villages found along the route, under guidance of a guide from the camp is an enjoyable way of experiencing more about the local culture and interacting with the local people.
The Mtititi community comprises four villages – those of Plange, Altein, Lombard and Muhunguti – where the Tsonga culture is still very much a part of daily life. The villagers’ pride in their heritage is reflected in the textiles and products they produce. Here vibrant beaded and embroidered designs are incorporated into handbags, scarves and runners, and cushion covers. The community has previously taken the initiative with a number of projects, aimed at eradicating poverty and providing employment in the region. The project dates back to the 70’s when it had started trading art work with a dealer in Switzerland. However this project came to a stand still when the contact person passed away in 1986. In 1995 the project was started again. An early childhood care centre was also established and there is a community bakery that is functioning at present.
Mapuve Pottery is a fine example of natural vhaTsonga art. These clay pots are traditionally used as beer pots (jomela) and as pots to store and cool liquids (makhuwani). The pots have a commercial value and are usually bought for interior decorating purposes in homes throughout South Africa. Several women currently work full-time to make these pots. Mapuve Pottery is situated on the way to Nkuri Village.
Places of interest
- Mtititi – Homu Minceka White (Makosha village)
- Mapuve Pottery
- Johannes Maswanganyi
- Baleni Ivory Route Camp
- Giyani Town
Tour guide: Yes
Level of adventure: high
Car: normal car