The northernmost part of Limpopo Province is a hot, green, undeveloped rural region with much in common with Zimbabwe. Its essential geographical features are the Limpopo River, the border between South Africa and Zimbabwe (and, further west, Botswana), and the alluring Soutpansberg mountain range, aligned east–west just to the north of the area’s main town, Makhado (Louis Trichardt), which is otherwise unremarkable and not worth a stopover.

Perhaps the most distinctive area is the Venda region, formerly an “independent” homeland under apartheid. Although economically impoverished, it remains rich in tradition, art and legend. East of the Venda lands is the northern tip of Kruger National Park, a less-visited but intriguing part of the park; there are two entry gates to the park here, at Punda Maria and Pafuri.

Both the Limpopo River and the Soutpansberg range lie in the path of the N1 highway, which crosses into Zimbabwe at Beitbridge. About 70km west of here, the Mapungubwe National Park encompasses a UNESCO World Heritage Iron-Age site which for archeology buffs is probably the area’s most enticing attraction.

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