Limpopo draws you closer to her wild heart, beckoned by the storytellers, whispering the tales of old. As we sit on the edge of the sacred Lake Fundudzi, cultural guide, Nelson Mphaha tells us the story of the revered Python God who beats his rocky drums to the singing of young women, swaying to the rhythm of the Domba Dance. With Nelson standing on these very stones, the legend unfolds before us. Countless years ago, a landslide blocked the Mutale River that feeds the valley. Water levels rose and swallowed the village in an eternal embrace. Many believe it was a curse on those who refused hospitality to a passing leper. For a split second, the muffled cries of the villagers can be heard coming from beneath the calm, mirrored surface of the lake. Bending closer to scoop up the sacred waters of Fundudzi, we see only our own reflections until the spell is broken by a sudden breeze.
Arriving at Xawela near Baleni Cultural Camp, your dynamic local guide takes you on a leisurely stroll to the mysterious hot springs of Mkhulu where legends of a white, fire-breathing mermaid resides. Nearby, at the Salt Pans, you are warmly greeted by a traditionally-clad Xitsonga Gogo. Be sure to have some coins ready to make your offering to the ancestors at the base of an ancient dead Leadwood Tree. Once your respects have been paid you are welcomed into the sacred space where salt is made from the earth in a 2000-year-old tradition. Join in this experience yourself and take home a bag of smokey salt you have helped to make. Book a guided tour with a cultural guide at the African Ivory Route Camps.