Where does one begin exploring this grand province? So rich in culture and wildlife - from nature at its most sublime to man-made attractions worth their weight in gold - this ancient African Kingdom bursts with historical treasures and abounds with beautiful landscapes. Well to start, we chose to focus on some authentic community journeys with a tour company that offers travellers the real deal. Tour 2.0 presents an incredible opportunity to experience the essence of Limpopo with a choice of cultural tours led by local guides.
There is a constant pulse - a deep rhythm – that pushes life through the veins of the Limpopo Province. Some say that this is the real heart of Africa. Mbokota, near Elim in Limpopo, personifies this African spirit – it’s a melting pot of Tsonga, Venda and Shangaan cultures. Ribola celebrates this authentic rhythm through art, music and the age-old African tradition of storytelling. You are invited to experience the art-beat and feel the rhythm of Limpopo, forget the racket of daily life and join in the ancient rhythms of the African soul.
Where does one begin exploring this grand province? So rich in culture and wildlife - from nature at its most sublime to man-made attractions worth their weight in gold - this ancient African Kingdom bursts with historical treasures and abounds with beautiful landscapes.
MAKE MUSIC WITH LUCKY NTIMANI
Join the dynamic teacher, musician and sculptor, Lucky Ntimani at the Tinyiko Art Centre where his students create music on uniquely carved drums, marimbas, mbiras and an innovative instrument made of upside-down tin plates on the springs of an old chair. Lucky teaches young girls and boys traditional songs and dances, adding a modern twist to the words and rhythms. Along with the multi-talented young musician, Gift Mkhari, Lucky has encouraged creativity and originality with this group of young people, exploring their talents and giving them pride in their cultural roots. Get the chance to work with Lucky, Gift and the group and learn to play the musical instruments, connecting the harmonies and rhythms with the collective sounds of these gifted musicians.
MAKE ART OUT OF SCRAP
Take a stroll to Pilato Bulala's home studio in Tshivhuyuni Village where you’ll usually find him hard at work on his next brilliant creation. This young man is pushing artistic boundaries with his ‘Scraptures’ – art made from old scrap metal and bits of machinery. Pilato’s work ranges from a working car complete with bicycle wheels and a sound system to traditional figures made from wheel sprockets, as well as delicate jewellery created from cold drink cans. Here is a young inventor who clearly makes magic out of metal that others throw away.
JOIN THE SUNSET SESSIONS
As the sun starts to set, head to the Vutsila Art Centre and Music Studio - home of sculptor, musician and teacher, Thomas Kubayi for a musical soul-session under the spreading marula tree. Here, the sun turns the sky a hundred shades of orange as the band sets up on Thomas' hand carved benches around a crackling log fire. Thomas explains how to use the Djembe calabash with a bow, the Kora harp, the Marimba and drums. He begins to stir up ancient rhythms as the sunset sessions begin! Talented young musicians, Gift Mkhari and Kenny Nonyana, jump in mixing Shangaan and Venda music, storytelling and praise singing to create a powerful experience for visitors of all ages and you’ll soon find yourselves alongside them making music under the stars. Sundowner snacks are traditional ingredients with a modern twist, washed down with traditional beer in a calabash pot.
FUN WITH FABRIC
Begin the morning with a short drive to Mbokota Village, where Twananani Textiles has been producing cloth, pillowcases and traditional clothing for the last 20 years. Combining Batik, block printing, embroidery, beading and painting by hand, these ladies create colourful and creative textiles with iconic Tsonga and Venda symbols and animals. Learn the art of textile design in an interactive, hands-on way with Ma Florence and the young and dynamic, Amu, Molly and Tsakani. Have fun with fabric as the room fills with laughter and the sounds of children playing from the crèche next door. Don’t forget to enjoy a delicious morning snack from the Amagwinya or vetkoek-seller, before moving on.
A VILLAGE OF POTS
Next, you’ll head along the dusty village road, dodging chickens, cows and taxis to make your way to Mukondeni Pottery Village. Here, the Matriarch, Sarah Munyai, has taught the women of the village to create clay pots in the age-old way, in a fire-pit. These practical and decorative pots, platters, vases and water filters are adorned in traditional patterns and symbols using ochre and graphite collected from the Luonde Mountain. Feel the joy of clay between your fingers as Florah Randela shows you how to make a pot of your own. Then decorate your work of art to take home as a memoir.
SPAZA SHOP POOL CHALLENGE
After a morning of creative fun, stop in at the local spaza shop and see if anyone is up for a game of pool.
Lunch is served at the roadside restaurant, 'Caesar's Chicken'. Enjoy a delicious offering of flame-grilled chicken, pap and marogo, while taking in the daily rhythms of the village, with the sounds of cowbells and the wafting smells and flavours of food being cooked over open fires.
WOOD SCULPTOR OR JEWELLER
After lunch, you have a choice to either to go to the home gallery of Patrick Manyike or to visit the jewellery workshop of Phyllis Movani. Patrick is a talented young sculptor who conjures stories out of wood with his homemade tools and skilful hands. Sitting under a shady tree, high above the river crossing with sweeping village views, Patrick introduces visitors to his craft. His quirky sense of humour and creative joy is infectious and with Patrick’s guidance, you’ll go home with your very own creation.
Phyllis Movani has a vibey home jewellery-making workshop with a popular spaza shop business running alongside it. Phyllis and her team of talented beaders make necklaces, earrings, traditional beadwork and decorations. She is a quietly confident teacher, whose pride and care is felt through the fun experience of making your very own unique piece of jewellery or traditional Tsonga doll.
BALENI SALT PANS & HOT SPRINGS
At Baleni Camp your dynamic local guide, Tinashaka (who is also a Venda Chief) takes you on a leisurely stroll to the mysterious hot springs of Kamkulu. Here, you’ll learn the legends of a white, fire-breathing mermaid and enjoy the therapeutic mud squelching between your toes. Next, head off to the nearby Salt Pans, to be 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’re welcomed into the sacred space where you’ll learn the 2 000-year-old tradition of how salt is made from the earth.
XAWELA VILLAGE DANCE
Down the road at Xawela Village, you will be treated to a Xibelani Dance performance by the colourful and dynamic Mbhombhela Dance Group and enjoy a traditional lunch.
GIYANI’S TRADITIONAL HEALER
Giyani is a culturally rich area bordering the Kruger National Park. Ma Chabalala is one of the highest-ranking Traditional Healers in the country and has been awarded many honours. This incredible woman has much to share about the art of divination and ancient African healing techniques. Her rich knowledge base, experience and sense of humour make this a fascinating visit, interpreted by historian and cultural guide, Richard Mabunda. His wealth of knowledge on the ancient trade routes as well as the cultural history of the area are unsurpassed and makes for an unforgettable experience.
Alternatively, enjoy the energising sounds of the Makomba Ndlela singers and dancers. This talented XiTsonga group has toured internationally.
For more information on tours of Limpopo as well as other fascinating tours around South Africa visit: