Attractions in and
Thohoyandou, meaning ‘head of elephant’ in tshiVenda, is the proud heart of the VhaVenda people.
The former capital of the independent homeland of the Republic of Venda, Thohoyandou is situated in the Vhembe Region of the Limpopo Province, South Africa. Located in the South of Vhembe district, Thohoyandou is on the main road between Louis Trichardt and the Kruger National Park.
With banana plantations, subtropical fruit, tobacco, and maize lands, Thohoyandou is the lush agricultural center of the Vhembe region
Attractions and activities in the area include Big Tree (the largest baobab in the country), Dzata Ruins and Museum of the Drum, Kokwane Prehistoric Footprints, Lake Funduzi, Lwamondo Hill, Mphaphuli Cycad Reserve, Phiphidi Falls and Guvhukuvhu Pool, Thathe Vondo Forest, Thulamela (historical site with evidence of indigenous smelting of gold), Tshatshingo Potholes, Tshimbubfe (archaeological site containing iron furnaces).
The Punda Maria Gate entrance to the Kruger National Park is approximately 1 ½ hours drive away.
Royal Kruger Baobab Route
The name is derived from the name of the Lodge, the Kruger National Park and the mighty Baobab trees found along the route.
The 275 Km route starts from Royal Hills Lodge and Spa right into the Kruger National Park though Punda Maria Gate exiting via Pafuri Gate, proceeding through the scenic baobab trail towards Sagole back to Thohoyandou where the road lead to Phiphidi waterfalls.
Royal Hills Lodge and Spa is intending to partner with Awelani Lodge which is located about 10kms from Pafuri gate into Kruger National Park to enhance visitors experience. Awelani Lodge would be a great stop over for visitors to enjoy lunch, as well as to experience cultural, historical and heritage of the area.
The Kruger National Park
The Punda Maria Gate is approximately 40km from the lodge. Travelling a further 10km, you will reach the Punda Maria Camp, in the northernmost region of the Kruger National Park.
The Camp is in the Sandveld Region, which is often described as the botanical garden of the Kruger National Park. Impala, zebra, buffalo, elephant, eland, and sable are the game species most likely to be sighted.
The area is also a birder’s paradise and numerous plant species are unique to the area.
The enchanted body of water known as Lake Fundudzi is a sacred lake of the Venda people that lies in the heart of the Soutpansberg region and is one of the few true inland lake systems in South Africa.
Lake Fundudzi can be found on the R523 between Thohoyandou and Louis Trichardt, surrounded by the mythical Thathe Vondo forest – believed to be so full of spirits that few Venda people venture into it for fear of hauntings and a lightning bird called Ndadzi.
Trips to the lakeshore are traditionally rarely granted to visitors, which is probably just as well as it is said to be infested with crocodiles. So sacred is the lake that newcomers must turn their backs on the lake and view the water from between their legs, according to the ritual after which the lake is named.
Fortunately, one of the most spectacular views of the sacred lake is found on the approach into the surrounding mountains, so visitors will have an opportunity to appreciate its beauty.
The lake has no obvious outlet and is formed from the water of the Mutale River, where a giant python god of fertility is said to reside.
The respect for the lake and the taboos that disallowed visitors have resulted in the lake being preserved and unspoiled.
Shingwezi 4×4 Trail
The rugged terrain that is sure to test your outdoor survival skills, the Shingwedzi 4×4 trail promises a truly African safari adventure. The trail is nestled within the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park and spans approximately 250 kilometers.
It takes around 100 hours to complete and is only available as a guided trail. Under no circumstances are visitors permitted attempt the trail independent of a qualified and experienced guide). This eco-trail showcases some of the finest African landscapes, fauna and flora -from the comfort of your vehicle
Locals in Venda may be confused if asked about the Tshatshingo Potholes. Not least because the local soccer team is also called the Tshatshingo Potholes, but also because their existence and location may be unknown.
Phiphidi Falls is one of several natural sacred sites of the Venda people. Others include Lake Funduzi and the Thate Vonde Forest. The elders of the Ramunangi, a Venda clan, use the falls to communicate with their ancestors. The beautiful cascade of water is surrounded by thick trees and lush vegetation.
Phiphidi lies within a forest on the Mutshindudi River. The rock above the waterfall is called LanwaDzon golo, and the pool below the waterfall; Guvhukuvhu. Both are considered holy. The Venda believe that the water and the pool are the home of ancestral water spirits to whom they bring offerings of beer and grain.
Mabudashango Hiking Trail
Hike through the Sacred Forest of Magoebaskloof.
Easily one of the most stunning trails in the Limpopo, this four-day hiking trail will take you through the mountainous eastern fringe of the Soutpansberg.
The trail winds past a number of revered sites and the burial grounds of Venda chiefs. A mystical atmosphere spreads through the lush indigenous forest. Keen birders should keep a lookout for glimpses of rare Narina trogons and Knysna loeries.
A highlight is the spectacular views of the sacred Lake Fundudzi, a place so protected that special permission has to be obtained from the VhaVenda people to visit it.