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South Africa

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Valley of the Olifants, Limpopo

The ‘Valley of the Olifants’, or Mopani District as it is also known, stretches from the foot of the Limpopo Drakensberg into the Kruger National Park, and is so named for the great herds of elephant that once ranged this sub-tropical flatland – or ‘lowveld’ as it is called.

As you descend from the Gauteng Highveld via the Magoebaskloof toward Tzaneen, the thick forests give way to tea plantations and sub-tropical fruit farms. This sub-tropical agricultural landscape defines the area as far as Tzaneen, but changes dramatically to the east of Tzaneen as it gives way to ‘Mopani’ bushveld and the many game farms and reserves that are becoming a part of the Greater Kruger National Park.

The main towns in the region are Tzaneen with the huge Tzaneen Dam and en-route to the Phalaborwa Gate at the Kruger National Park, Phalaborwa at the border with Kruger, and Hoedspruit, also on the Kruger border further south near the border with Mpumalanga, and famous for its wildlife sanctuaries and attractions.

There are many private game reserves throughout the region, but while wild-life and conservation take the crown in the Valley of the Olifants, they are by no means the only attractions. Just north of Tzaneen the Valley of the Rain Queen (Modjajiskloof) and the Modjaji Cycad Reserve offer a truly unique African experience, after which you can enjoy a beer inside the trunk of the enormous Baobab which is supposedly the oldest tree in the world at 6000 years old.

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