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CONNECT TO THE WILD SPIRIT OF KRUGER 2 CANYONS
Kruger National Park has always been synonymous with the bushveld – hot, lazy afternoons after the excitement of an early morning start in search of elusive predators. Time slows down, and your senses sharpen as you tune in to the wild world around you. An elephant steps out of the shadows of a giant acacia tree into the late afternoon sunshine, which is already turning the river into liquid gold. Cameras click and whirr in a futile attempt to capture the glory of this moment and then are still. It is a classic magic moment in the African bush made all the more special if you are doing this on foot or bike – creating a genuine connection to the African Bush.
Nearby Hoedspruit has become a premier wildlife destination in its own right – a far cry from its humble beginnings. Hoedspruit was named for a grateful transport rider who reached the Sandspruit River and threw his hat and then himself into the welcome water. Luxury game lodges and wildlife housing estates abound, and the town is bursting at the seams with South African and international residents who want to find a wilder lifestyle challenge than the Jo’burg traffic. You will find galleries, and funky shops, farmer’s markets, laid-back restaurants and places to party. Apart from the wildlife experiences, which abound, you can take a different perspective of it all on a hot-air balloon ride or on the Blyde Dam.
Along with the burgeoning development has come a recognition that there must be a commitment to sustainable living if the unique wildlife resources are to thrive and survive. Central to this is the Kruger to Canyons Biosphere, which was ratified by UNESCO in 2001. The area between the conservation giant, Kruger Park and the wild and beautiful Blyde Canyon has been consolidated into a massive protected area where communities have made a commitment to exploring `ecosystem-friendly sustainable development.’
Phalaborwa, the other central town on the doorstep of Kruger’s North, boasts the iconic Amarula Lapa and the Qualito Craft Distillery with gin, vodka and whiskies expertly crafted on site.
Ancient history and tradition are still very much alive in Limpopo and visitors to the Rixile Culture to Kruger Route can be swept along on this modern-day celebration of culture. A coming together of storytellers, traders and travellers are re-writing the pages of history through song and dance.
Visit the route and learn how to make a traditional clay pot and even grind the peanuts that would be stored inside… trade this for smoky salt harvested on the Klein Lethaba River at Baleni or handcrafted beads from Hi Hlurile Pot of Beads. You can re-live these experiences with the help of knowledgeable historian and storyteller, Richard Mabunda.
In the 1400’s the VaTsonga, who make up a large part of Limpopo today, migrated from central Africa all the way down to the South. They had been traders on the old trade routes from East Africa to central and South Africa, bartering with beads, cloth, salt and other goods for ivory and gold. These ancient routes followed the snake-like Limpopo, Komati and Zambezi rivers South to the communities who lived along these fertile banks. Finally settling there in the 1800’s.
Today the Giyani Rixile Culture to Kruger Route sits on the intersection of the ancient trade routes and is the heartbeat of Tsonga culture and heritage. From Thomo Heritage Park, an old iron age smelting site, you can see right across to the trading hills that lead to Mapungubwe hundreds of miles north and imagine yourself at the wild north of Pafuri or the aptly-named Crook’s Corner where the daring and intrepid merchants could sell you anything your heart desired. Find yourself transported back in time connecting with these modern-day traders and immerse yourself in the ancient rhythms of Limpopo.
We are planning a roadtrip through the Kruger 2 Canyons soon…
tell us about your favorite lodges and the things you love to do.