On a short break from the hus­tle and bus­tle of Jozi, and on her first sa­fari trip and lodge hop, Pre­cious Mavuso dis­cov­ers that the Lim­popo prov­ince has many a hid­den gem await­ing vis­i­tors

CityPress - - t# -

South Africa has a spe­cial kind of beauty that only ex­ists here, and the prov­ince of Lim­popo is proof of that. Re­cently, I took my first trip to this north­east­ern area of the coun­try and, I must con­fess, it was noth­ing like I had imag­ined or ex­pected. It had more to of­fer and looked even more beau­ti­ful in real life than in pho­to­graphs – from its wildlife re­serves to its lush land­scapes.

With just four days there, I had so much to do and ex­plore, and the north­ern sec­tion of the Kruger Na­tional Park was my first stop. We in­dulged in a Kam­baku II boat cruise on the Oli­fants River, while en­joy­ing a lunch of freshly braaied meat with a view of the banks and its an­i­mal in­hab­i­tants.

Later on, we checked into Letaba Rest Camp for the night, where the huts were com­fort­able, and pretty warm de­spite the chilly evening. They all come with a kitch­enette with ba­sic ap­pli­ances, a bath­room with a shower and toi­let, and three sin­gle beds. The camp is on a sweep­ing bend of the river, which of­fers a great sun­rise view.

The sec­ond day in­volved a cul­tural tour to Lulekani Vil­lage, where we were en­ter­tained by the en­er­getic tra­di­tional war­rior dance of the Tsonga peo­ple which, we were told, sym­bol­ises free­dom and is per­formed af­ter win­ning a battle.

The next stop was the Amarula Lapa, which of­fered so many ex­pe­ri­ences – from tast­ing Amarula Cream and watch­ing an ed­u­ca­tional video about the marula fruit and the prod­ucts made from it, to learn­ing about the track­ing de­vice used for trac­ing ele­phants.

Our home for the night was Se­fa­pane Lodge, which had a strong tra­di­tional feel to it, in­clud­ing the menu from which I ate ma­sonja (mopane worms) for the first time in my life and was amazed by how de­li­cious they were.

The third af­ter­noon in­volved a game drive that scared me a lit­tle, be­cause the an­i­mals were so close and I had never ex­pe­ri­enced this be­fore. I was ex­cited to see my favourite, the gi­raffe, while out in the open ve­hi­cle. As ner­vous as I was, it was still an in­cred­i­ble and ex­hil­a­rat­ing ex­pe­ri­ence. Af­ter ar­riv­ing at River Lodge, I soon lost my­self in it. Be­ing in the city with big lights hides some of the beauty of na­ture, such as sun­sets and the end­less stars in the sky, which I kept look­ing up at while we were hav­ing din­ner. I felt so ap­pre­cia­tive of the di­vine na­ture around me. We checked out the fol­low­ing day and headed to AM Lodge, which mixes African aes­thet­ics with mod­ern fin­ishes. It gave me the feel­ing of be­ing at home, be­cause of its warm and com­fort­able vibe. The head and shoul­der mas­sage at the spa was a real treat. The next morn­ing it was time to re­turn to Gaut­eng, but I could not leave without stop­ping near Hoed­spruit to say hi to Jessica, the fa­mous hippo who is said to have about 120 in­ter­na­tional doc­u­men­taries made about her be­cause she was res­cued af­ter be­ing found orphaned and wounded. She is now 16 years old and over 1 400kg. I had to COSY feed her, and rub and kiss her, which was both daunt­ing and fas­ci­nat­ing. The whole ex­pe­ri­ence was hum­bling and eye-open­ing, and made me ap­pre­ci­ate South Africa’s beauty so much more. I learnt to look be­yond where I live and am de­lighted to know what Lim­popo has to of­fer. I am cer­tain that I will go back with my fam­ily and friends. Out there I felt dif­fer­ent inside; I felt free and at peace. Mavuso was a guest of Plum Tree Tours and Sa­faris. You can con­tact them on 015 295 6153/4 or email ad­min@plumtree­ sa­

Se­fa­pane Lodge’s thatched huts

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