Limpopo

They Call it the Great North
It is what the needle of the compass turns to for comfort. Maps are ruled by it, and with it goes the symbolism and imagery of greatness and authority. It is for this reason that the Limpopo could not be more aptly named.

On the surface, it is a broad, boundless area, a landscape tanning itself in the heat of the African sun. However, a look beyond its obvious beauty brings interest and entertainment in generous amounts.

These are ancient lands, attested by the Makapansgat Caves near Mokopane. Here can be found some of the oldest and most comprehensive remains (and evidence) of prehistoric human habitation. Further along the time scale is found the unique history of the Stone Age San. Their culture exists today largely as spirits in the form of immaculate rock artwork, archaeological relics and in the tradition of storytelling: the inimitable Baobab considered the "upside-down tree" uprooted and cast back to the earth by angry gods. The baobabs are a distinctive feature of the province, at once embracing history, culture and nature.

They are found in greatest abundance in the northern section of the province: the canvass of the great bushveld, is the true bushveld. Distant mountains frame endless landscapes like the frieze of some enormous matte painting, and the trees and thorny terrain housing unique wildlife form part of one of the country's most popular and well-managed conservation areas.

A compass swing to the east takes the visitor to the awe-inspiring wildlife heritage of the Valley of the Olifants in the lowveld. The Kruger National Park shoulders the province and houses a multitude of fauna and flora. A crisp, camp coffee morning and cicada afternoon is an indispensable part of the Limpopo experience. Here are also the mountains, rivers and forests of the Letaba district, an unhurried, fertile area of exquisite beauty.

South, as the needle shudders as it swivels, takes you to the Nylsvley wetland and the unspoilt mountains of the Waterberg. Here, the heat is quenched and the muscles southed by the mineral baths of the area's wealth of hot spring resorts.

Polokwane is the geographic and economic centre of the province, and provides the administrative workforce for a province of industry and determination. Northwards, to the north of the north, leads the neighbouring Southern African countries and the gargling expanse of the tireless Limpopo River.

A few days in the Limpopo will quickly explain why compass needles seem to be determined to direct you towards it.

The Limpopo is divided into four tourism regions each representing a microcosm of varied and interesting cultures, growing industries and an expanding tourism industry. Each region is unique, each worth a visit.