Limpopo’s cultural heritage has deep roots. Dating back to 1000 AD, it is full of stories of lost civilizations, African kings and queens, historical groups that left their mark in secretive caves and traditional cultures that still hold on to the myths and legends of their forefathers.
Best time to visit
Limpopo is an all-year-round destination due to its sub-tropical climate. Summer (October to February) can get very hot, especially in the lowveld region.
Tours to do
The cultural museums of Bakone Malapa at Polokwane and the Tsonga Open-air Museum at Tzaneen; Pedi Cultural Village at Melkrivier; Modjadji Cycad Reserve; Mapungubwe World Heritage Site and National Park; rock art sites in the Soutpansberg and Waterberg; Modjadji the Rain Queen; Ribolla Open Africa Route; Heritage Route and Limpopo Valley Route.
DID YOU KNOW?
The people of Limpopo include the Balobedu, who only allow women into the Rain Queen’s village.
Limpopo’s cultural heritage is a complex one that includes many traditional groups, some of whom have been lost to time and others whose origins to this day remain shrouded in mystery.
While palaeontological evidence at Makapans Valley suggests the history of Limpopo dates back some 3 million years when hominids roamed the area, archaeological evidence uncovered around the province points to its founding cultures, the first people of Limpopo.
Rock art paintings across the province speak to the existence of early groups such as the San, who captured events of their daily life on cave walls and under rocky overhangs.
Limpopo’s cultural heritage also includes Mapungubwe, a World Heritage Site that produced dozens of artefacts illustrating the existence of a wealthy African kingdom, around 1050 and 1270 AD. The relics indicated this civilisation’s extraordinary metal-working abilities and its regular trade with the East.
More recently, Limpopo was home to African kings such King Sekhukhune who built the great Marota (Bapedi) empire here. Visit the Pedi Cultural Village just outside Melkrivier to explore this fascinating culture further.
One of Limpopo’s most colourful peoples is the Ndebele, whose exact origins remain unknown. You can experience the warm Ndebele culture and their brilliant artwork on the Kamoka Open Africa Route which traverses the province.
Limpopo is also home to the Balobedu, who are governed by Modjadji, the Rain Queen. This group’s legacy, too, largely remains a mystery, but their village and the ancient cycad forest that surrounds it make for interesting day trips.
A dominant Limpopo culture is that of the Venda, which is steeped in myth and legend. Several sites around the province are sacred to the group, including Lake Fundudzi, the magical lake inhabited by the python god of fertility, and the Thathe Vondo forest, which is believed to be filled with spirits.
Follow the Heritage, Limpopo Valley, Ribolla Open Africa and Mapungubwe tourism routes to experience the full vibrancy of these cultures.