The province was formed from the northern region of Transvaal Province in 1994, and was initially named Northern Transvaal. The following year, it was renamed Northern Province, which remained the name until 2003, when it was formally changed to Limpopo after deliberation by the provincial government and amendment of the South African Constitution. An alternate name considered for the province was Mapungubwe.
History of Limpopo Province
The Limpopo River forms the border between South Africa and Zimbabwe. The Limpopo Province covers the area that lies northernmost in South Africa, just South of Zimbabwe. It was first called the Northern Province, but this was changed in 2002. The Limpopo Province was part of the old Transvaal and includes many old homelands like Venda, Gazankulu and Lebowa.
Limpopo Province shares international borders with districts and provinces of three countries: Botswana’s Central and Kgatleng districts to the west and northwest respectively, Zimbabwe’s Matabeleland South and Masvingo provinces to the north and northeast respectively, and Mozambique’s Gaza Province to the east. Limpopo is the link between South Africa and countries further afield in sub-Saharan Africa. On its southern edge, from east to west, it shares borders with the South African provinces of Mpumalanga, Gauteng, and North West. Its border with Gauteng includes that province’s Johannesburg-Pretoria axis, the most industrialised metropole on the continent. The province is at the centre of regional, national, and international developing markets.
Limpopo contains much of the Waterberg Biosphere, a massif of approximately 15,000 km2 (5,800 sq mi) which is the first region in the northern part of South Africa to be named a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. The massif was shaped by hundreds of millions of years of riverine erosion yielding diverse bluff and butte landforms. The Waterberg ecosystem can be characterised as a dry deciduous forest or Bushveld. Within the Waterberg, archaeological finds date to the Stone Age. Nearby are early evolutionary finds related to the origin of humans.
Limpopo is home to the most important animals that also contain the big five which is located al over
The climate in the Limpopo Province is quite hot since the area is bisected by the tropic of Capricorn. Those who choose to visit this northern tip of the country will find that they can enjoy long sunny days and dry weather on most days. During the summer months the heat is often interrupted by a short thunderstorm which is usually a welcome respite from the sometimes extreme heat of the day. Polokwane, the capital city of the province, is situated at roughly the centre of Limpopo. Its weather is normally mirrored by much of the province with the exception of the eastern regions of Limpopo. Polokwane is fortunate enough to enjoy very a very pleasant climate for much of the year with plenty of sunshine regardless of the season. However, it can get a bit hot during the summer months which are between October and March each year. During this time, the temperature can average about 27º C.
When you head out of town towards the lowveld, you will find that summer weather becomes even more extreme with towns such as Phalaborwa experiencing temperatures as high as 45º C. However, this is more the exception than the rule and visitors to the spectacular Kruger National Park are more likely to have the mercury rise to about 30º C in the summer months. Visitors from cooler countries usually prefer to visit in winter when the province continues to experience plenty of sunshine but the air itself is a bit cooler. During this time of the year the days usually start with a chill in the air which progresses to a warm midday and cool, dry afternoon. At night the temperature drops dramatically and you usually need to reach for a blanket or warm top to stay comfortable.
The province is a typical developing area, exporting primary products and importing manufactured goods and services. It is also one of the poorest regions of South Africa with a big gap between poor and rich residents, especially in rural areas. However, Limpopo’s economy and standard of living have shown great improvement. A recent border shift with Limpopo’s wealthier neighbour, Mpumalanga, was effected to try and bring some wealth into the province.
The bushveld is beef cattle country, where extensive ranching operations are often supplemented by controlled hunting. About 80% of South Africa’s game hunting industry is found in Limpopo.
Sunflowers, cotton, maize and peanuts are cultivated in the Bela-Bela and Modimolle areas. Modimolle is also known for its table grapes. Tropical fruit, such as bananas, litchis, pineapples, mangoes and pawpaws, as well as a variety of nuts, are grown in the Tzaneen and Louis Trichardt areas. Tzaneen is also at the centre of extensive citrus, tea and coffee plantations, and a major forestry industry.
Ajoite in quartz, from the Messina mine, Limpopo Province, South Africa. Scale at bottom is one inch, with a rule at one cm.
Limpopo’s rich mineral deposits include the platinum group metals, iron ore, chromium, high- and middle-grade coking coal, diamonds, antimony, phosphate, and copper, as well as mineral reserves like gold, emeralds, scheelite, magnetite, vermiculite, silicon, and mica. Commodities such as black granite, corundum, and feldspar are also found. Mining contributes to over a fifth of the provincial economy.
Limpopo has the largest platinum deposit in South Africa.The Waterberg Coalfield, the eastern extension of Botswana’s Mmamabula coalfields, is estimated to contain 40% of South Africa’s coal reserves.
Tourism is one of the three pillars of the Limpopo economy along with mining and agribusiness. In 2008, the Province accounted for 5% of all foreign tourist bed nights in South Africa, numbers which are showing strong annual growth. The R 93 million Provincial tourism budget for 2010/11 represents 11% of Limpopo’s total budget.
Near Modjadjiskloof, at Sunland Baobab farms, there is a large Baobab tree which has been fashioned into a rather spacious pub
The Limpopo Department of Economic Development, Environment and Tourism has targeted the province as a preferred eco-tourism destination. Its Environment and Tourism Programme encompasses tourism, protected areas and community environment development to achieve sustainable economic growth.
While Limpopo is one of South Africa’s poorest provinces, it is rich in wildlife, which gives it an edge in attracting tourists. Both the private and public sectors are investing in tourism development.
Louis Trichardt is a town situated at the foot of the Soutpansberg mountain range in Limpopo. It was developed from the Voortrekker settlement in the area and named after the leader Louis Trichardt, who moved away from British rule in the Cape and arrived here in 1836.
Bordering on the Kruger National Park, Hoedspruit lies in the heart of the central Lowveld and is conveniently situated to explore the many game lodges, game reserves and other attractions in the vicinity.
Known as the capital of the ‘land of the silver mist’ after T.V. Bulpin’s famous book on the area, the picturesque village of Haenertsburg in the Magoebaskloof mountains is perched on the slopes of the Wolkberg and Drakensberg, offering tourists a wonderful selection of things to do and see.
It is conveniently situated on the R71 between Polokwane and Tzaneen, a mere three-and-a-half hours from Gauteng. The village is home to about 350 families and a further 2,500 people who live ‘on the mountain’, as the locals say.
The Cave of Hearths
Visitors to Mokopane should not miss the opportunity of going on a guided tour of Makapan’s Valley where extensive cultural and palaeontological deposits have played a crucial role in furthering our understanding of later human evolution and the appearance of modern man.
The Cave of Hearths is one of only two Stone Age sites in the world that contain an unbroken sequence of artefacts from the Earlier Stone Age to the Later Stone Age.
The name of the Springbok Flats is a poignant reminder of the great herds that once populated the plain. The area was also frequented by lions. Right up until the 1930s, an occasional beast still hunted the thornbush, and stories were told of early travellers who vanished without a trace.
Kruger to Canyons Biosphere Reserve
On the 20th of September 2001, the Kruger to Canyons (K2C) Biosphere Reserve was registered in Paris by the United Nations Education, Scientific, and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO). K2C is recognised under the UNESCO Man and the Biosphere Programme.
It became the 411th Biosphere Reserve site to be registered in 94 countries worldwide, acknowledging the global significance of the Greater Kruger bioregion, the eastern savannahs and escarpment of South Africa.
Modjadji Nature Reserve
The 530-ha Modjadji Nature Reserve, situated in the Bolobedu district of Lebowa north-east of Duiwelskloof, boasts one of the most fascinating population of plants seen in Southern Africa. Once the main diet of the prehistoric mammal-like reptiles that lived here, the Modjadji cycad (Encephalartos transvenosus) forms a unique natural forest which can be viewed in its prehistoric state thanks to its strict protection by succeeding generations of modjadji (‘rain queens’), the hereditary rulers in the area.
Alldays is a small town that holds a distinct rural charm. Alldays and the villages of Vivo and Dendron serve an extensive area of private game and hunting farms. Prolific game – including the ‘Big Five’ – excellent accommodation and good hunting facilities attract many domestic and international trophy hunters.
Lake Fundudzi & Thathe Vondo Forest
Lake Funduzi is a magical place that is steeped in Venda mythology and legend. Its condition changes seasonally, but it is always worth the visit from a cultural perspective. From Lake Funduzi you will drive along the very top of the Soutpansberg. The vegetation consists of afromontain grasslands and small patches of afro-temperate forest.
Thathe is an indigenous forest which is sacred to the Venda people. Here you should be on the look-out for forest species, such as Chorister Robin-Chat, White-starred Robin, Knysna Turaco, Yellow-streaked Greenbul and Orange Ground-Thrush.
History of Polokwane in the 1840s: The Voortrekkers, under the leadership of Andries Potgieter, established Zoutpansbergdorp, a town 100 km to the south-east.
This settlement had to be abandoned because of clashes with the local tribes. They founded a new town in 1886 and named it Pietersburg in honour of Voortrekker leader Petrus Jacobus Joubert.
Thabazimbi, meaning ‘mountain of iron’ is the Tswana name for the town and refers to the highly lucrative iron ore reef first discovered here in 1919 and mined since the 1930s when iron and steel production started. The town was proclaimed in 1953 and today the ISCOR Steelworks in Tshwane still draw much of their raw material from Thabazimbi.
Thabazimbi is also good farming country, particularly for cattle-ranching and game-farming. Nature and eco-tourism activities are equally important and the region is fast becoming a well-known and popular destination for nature-lovers.
Vaalwater is a small town situated on the Mokolo River in the Limpopo province of South Africa.t lies at the southern edge of the rugged Waterberg Massif, which is a biosphere that contains considerable biodiversity, including numerous large mammals including some of the “Big 5”.
Hunting opportunities are particularly plentiful in the northern and north-western regions of the province which includes the Vaalwater region.
A stunning bushveld environment and multicultural community and history give Mokopane a unique character. The town and immediate surroundings boast fascinating ancient caves, the ‘Big Five’, San rock art, curios, typically bushveld food and drink such as biltong (dried meat) and mampoer (a traditional – and potent – African alcoholic beverage distilled from fruit), tropical gardens and traditional dancing.
Situated on the Mokolo River (a tributary of the Limpopo) about 60 km from the Botswana border and the Stockpoort border post, this tranquil but prosperous Waterberg town is home to close on 20,000 people, offering excellent game-viewing opportunities and sports tourism, among other activities. The town was started on the farm known as Waterkloof in 1960 and was named after the original owners of the farm. Lephalale is a hunting mecca and prime eco-tourism area drawing thousands of tourists each year.
Gateway to the Kruger National Park and Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park Dubbed the ‘town of two summers’ because it never really gets cold in this subtropical town of mild winters and warm summers, Phalaborwa enjoys average day temperatures of 23°C and is the ideal year-round holiday destination.
Thomas Baines, well-known explorer, naturalist and painter, tells a fascinating story of how the Nyl River received its name. Known to the locals as Mokgalakwena (‘fierce crocodile’), the north-flowing river was mistakenly believed to be the Nile by a group of Voortrekkers known as the Jerusalemgangers (‘Jerusalem Travellers’), who arrived here in 1886.
The Soutpansberg, South Africa’s northernmost mountain range, takes its name from the salt pans that lie at its base near the western end. These pans have supplied communities with salt from prehistoric times to today.
The discovery of the stone citadel of Thulamela, which means ‘place of birth’ in the VhaVenda language, is regarded as one of the most important archaeological sites in South Africa.
Lying west of Pafuri, Thulamela was a stone-walled city atop a plateau in the Soutpansberg, and archaeological digs there revealed a well-organised mountain kingdom, ruled by an African monarch that flourished between 1200 and 1600 AD.
Modjadjikloof lies in an unhurried fertile area of exquisite beauty at the entrance to the Lowveld and is a pretty village with panoramic vistas on to the surrounding Wolkberg Mountains.