The Limpopo Province is a land of myths and legends – dramatic contrasts characterised by hot savannah plains, age-old indigenous forests, baobabs and cycads, vast mountains and modern-day infrastructure. The area has a rich cultural history and there are many archaeological sites.
The sites of Mapungubwe, recently declared a World Heritage Site, and Thulamela are well preserved. Vast expanses of Limpopo, particularly in the world-renowned Kruger National Park and other wilderness areas, are virtually untouched by the passage of time. These areas provide sanctuary to the Big Five and many other species of fauna and flora, and offer wildlife experiences that rank with the best in the world. There are many wilderness trails and hikes, allowing visitors to experience the wilderness on foot.
The Makapans Valley, a National Heritage site and currently in line for World Heritage Status, contains an extensive and complete record of hominid occupation. The valley contains a bountiful cluster of historic and cultural heritage sites that range in age as far back as three million years. The Makapans Cave and nearby archaeological and fossil sites are situated on the farm Makapansgat, 19 km north of Mokopane.
The fossil remains provide a unique and almost unbroken record of human development, extending from proto-human times, 3.5 million years ago, through the early, middle and late Stone Age and Iron Age to the present. Alongside and even pre-dating this history of human development is a remarkable record of fossil mammals, micro-mammals and invertebrates, which provide a window into the evolution of fauna.
Beads and ceramics were traded for the gold and ivory of the ancient African kingdoms, ensconced in the fortresses of Mapungubwe and Thulamela. Mapungubwe Hill, a World Heritage Site, is situated on the southern banks of the Limpopo River. It forms part of the Vhembe/Dongola National Park as well as the Limpopo Transfrontier Park.
Archaeologists believe that the iron-age sites of Mapungubwe were once the capitals of mighty African kings. The significance of Mapungubwe and related sites was first realised in the 1930s when graves with gold, iron artefacts, pottery and glass beads were found on top of the sacred Hill of the Jackal. Extensive excavations were undertaken before World War II, and further excavations were done between the 1950s and 1990s.
Marakele National Park in the heart of the Waterberg Mountains has become a sanctuary for for an impressive variety of wildlife. The park boasts what is probably the largest colony of endangered Cape Vultures in the world. Marakele has a high density of both rhino species. Visitors will also enjoy seeing Kudu with their magnificent spiral horns.