The African Ivory Route is an adventure from beginning to end that allows the visitor to experience, at first hand, life in the African wilderness. The route has a strong focus not only on benefiting the tourist, but also on being of benefit to the local community. The African Ivory Route cuts a 2 000-km path in the form of an arc through remote wilderness areas in the eastern, northern and western regions of Limpopo.
This fascinating adventure opportunity follows in the footsteps of the ivory hunters and gold traders, who, more than a thousand years ago, knew this region like the back of their hands.
The Ivory Route starts in the Manyeleti Game Reserve near Orpen in the Kruger National Park. It includes several game reserves such as Letaba Ranch (north of Phalaborwa), Makuya Park (near Pafuri), the Madimbo Corridor, Vhembe-Dongola Transfrontier Park (near Musina), Blouberg (south of Alldays), the Mokolo Dam (in the Waterberg Mountains), Makapansgat Caves (close to Mokopane) and Atherstone Nature Reserve (near Thabazimbi). It also traverses part of the Kruger National Park, as well as various private and public game reserves on the western borders of the Park.
Manyeleti, meaning the “Place of the Stars”, is located between the Kruger National Park, Timbavati, Andover and Sabi Sand. Superb game viewing is on offer at this ecotourism destination. Letaba Ranch is situated at the border of the Kruger National Park and is a 43 000-ha game reserve. Visitors will be treated to a breathtaking view of the Great Letaba River. Makuya Park overlooks the Kruger National Park and the amazing Levubu Gorge.
The Vhembe-Dongola Transfrontier Park represents an inspiring example of conservation cooperation between South Africa, Botswana and Zimbabwe. The entire area of the park extends across country borders and is located on both sides of the Limpopo River. It also safeguards Mapungubwe, one of South Africa’s World Heritage Sites. The magnificent and majestic Waterberg Mountains are the gateway to the scenic Golden Horseshoe where one will find the Mokolo Dam and Masebe Reserve. Atherstone Nature Reserve was South Africa’s first game farm and offers visitors a large variety of big game, birds and countless species of flora.
The route also explores the Golden Horseshoe, a vast territory of unspoilt wilderness ranging from the Drakensberg Escarpment and the Lebombo Mountains in the east to the Waterberg Mountains and the Limpopo River in the west. It also includes the Soutpansberg Mountains in the south and the Limpopo River in the north. Interference from man has been kept to a minimum to avoid disrupting the carefully balanced ecosystem – the roads are therefore very rudimentary and cater primarily for 4×4 vehicles.
The African Ivory Route was developed with the express purpose of opening up the province to tourists and to allow the local population to benefit from the tourism industry. The people who help visitors along the route are friendly and helpful and know the area like their own backyards. Bush camps are well placed at different points on the route. Established camps include Mtomeni (Letaba Game Ranch, north of Phalaborwa), Mutale Falls (Makuya Park Wilderness Area of Pafuri), Ndzhaka Camp (Manyeleti Reserve near Orpen), Modjadji Camp (Modjadji Cycad Reserve, Tzaneen), Tshivhase Camp (Venda), Blouberg Camp (Vivo) and Masebe Camp (Marken).
View the Big Five, participate in guided wilderness hiking routes, horse trails and astounding bird-watching or test the strength of your 4×4. Nature-based adventure tourism is extremely popular, especially amongst 4×4 devotees who steer their vehicles through rough terrain. River-rafting can be enjoyed on the Olifants River during the season and many gorges and mountains offer superb and exhilarating abseiling. Another popular attraction of the route is a chance to renew ones senses at the hot mineral springs.
Wildlife and adventure opportunities are not the only highlights of this route. The cultural heritage of the province tells of many legends and battles and the province boasts a long history of ancient civilisations and archaeological wonders. View some of the San rock Aat sites and archaeological sites such Mapungubwe in the Vhembe-Dongola Transfrontier Park and Makapan’s Caves north of Mokopane (Potgietersrus).