Musina, known until recently as Messina, is the most northerly town in South Africa and the last town before the border with Zimbabwe. Beit Bridge Border Post, South Africa’s busiest border post, lies on the Limpopo River some 18 km north of Musina. The town developed in tandem with the copper mining industry. Copper was first discovered here in prehistoric times by miners of the Musina tribe and rediscovered by twentieth-century miners. Today iron, coal, magnetite, graphite, asbestos, diamonds, semi-precious stones and copper are mined here.
The dry bushveld climate is ideal for growing citrus, mangoes and tomatoes and, in autumn, dates are harvested. Archaeology, wildlife, hunting, or the impressive baobab trees and impala lilies are all excellent reasons to visit the town and surrounding areas.
Adventure And Sport
Angling: There are various popular angling spots in the region.
Golf: Visit Musina’s nine-hole golf course for a relaxing round of golf in peaceful surroundings,
Archaeology And Palaeontology
Mapungubwe: Mapungubwe is a World Heritage Site and has yielded one of the richest archaeological finds in Africa. The site is in the Vhembe-Dongola Transfrontier Park near the confluence of the Shashe and Limpopo Rivers. Excavations carried out in the 1930s uncovered a graveyard of 23 graves, some of which contained a number of gold artefacts. One of the gold artefacts found at Mapungubwe is the “Golden Rhino”, regarded by many as the symbol of the African Renaissance. Other objects include gold anklets and bangles, a sceptre and a gold bowl. These objects prove that there was already trade between this Southern African community and East Africa, Persia, Egypt, India and China some 800 years ago. Visits to the site can be arranged, although the newly established Vhembe-Dongola Transfrontier Park does not yet have a fully developed infrastructure. Visits should be arranged with the National Parks Board well in advance. As the area is quite hot in summer (November to February), visitors are advised to visit during the colder winter months (April to August).
San Rock Art: There are several San rock art sites in the area.
Schroda Site: The Schroda site is thought to have been the earliest trading site in the interior of Southern Africa and is dated 800 AD to 950 AD. Archaeological evidence suggests that the inhabitants were part of a small chiefdom, with a pottery tradition known as Zhizo. The inhabitants traded hippo and elephant ivory, animal skins and rhino horn with Arabs from further north, for porcelain and glass beads. The Schroda and Zhizo pottery traditions were replaced by the Leopard Kopje-A culture around 950 AD and a new trade capital was established a few km west of the Schroda site, at site K2. The archaeological sites at K2 have produced more ivory and porcelain beads than any other site in South Africa. Later, a new capital was chosen at Mapungubwe Hill, 1km from K2.
Date Liqueur: A truly unique local product that is available nowhere else in the world, is date liqueur, made from the small autumn date harvest.
Entertainment And Shopping
Erich Mayer and Impala Lily Park: The Erich Mayer (a famous South African artist) and Impala Lily Parks are just outside town. The Erich Mayer Park is renowned for its famous “Elephant’s Trunk” baobab tree.
Fauna And Flora
Baobab Tree: Baobab trees are truly a natural wonder, not only because of their distinctive looks but also because these trees often grow for hundreds or even thousands of years. These ancient trees, so characteristic of this part of Africa, have been immortalised by famous South African writers and in the paintings of a renowned South African artist, Pierneef. The largest baobab tree in the Musina area stands on a farm, Nonsiang, about 40 km south-east of Musina. It is 26m tall and is estimated to be some 4 500 years old.
Vhembe-Dongola Transfrontier Park: This Transfrontier park is the country’s youngest and northernmost park and represents a successful cooperative conservation effort between South Africa, Zimbabwe and Botswana. The park does not yet have a well-developed infrastructure, but arrangements can be made with National Parks to visit the Mapungubwe World Heritage Site in the reserve, near the spot where the Limpopo and Shashe rivers flow together. The landscape of the reserve has flat-topped “koppies” (hillocks) that rise up from a landscape dotted with mashatu and baobab trees. Watch as waterbuck graze in the riverine bush and be amazed by the expressive San rock art and the rare Pel’s fishing owl.
Musina Nature Reserve: The reserve encompasses the former Baobab Forest Reserve, proclaimed in 1926 to protect the baobab trees from commercial exploitation. The remains of former pulp factories can still be seen on the banks of the Sand River near the reserve. The oldest datable rock in the world, a piece of granite gneiss almost 4 000 million years old, is also protected within the reserve. The reserve is situated immediately south of Musina.
Tshipise: The Aventura Resort at Tshipise offers relaxation for both body and spirit with its healing mineral waters, spa and adjacent game reserve, the Honnet Nature Reserve. The Bushveld resort is situated approximately 50 km south of Beit Bridge and can be reached by a short detour by travellers to or from Zimbabwe. The accommodation facilities are superb and anglers can try their luck at many spots in the area.
History And Architecture
Bulai/Dongola Execution Rocks: The rocks are located about 20 km west of Musina on Road R572 to Pontdrif. Musina chiefs used to execute their prisoners on these rocks. Minor offenders were executed at “Small Bulai”, which is next to the road and serious offenders were executed at the large rock, south of the road.
Musina Museum and Library: The Museum and Library are situated in the Civic Centre and provide interesting details of the town’s history.
Zeederberg’s Mail Coach: The coach, drawn by “salted” mules (mules inoculated against tsetse fly) was used in the nineteenth century on the old Pretoria–Zimbabwe route via Tuli in Botswana and now stands in front of the Musina Civic Centre.
Sand River Gneiss: Some of the oldest rock formations on earth can be found in the bed of the Sand River, approximately 10 km south-east of Musina. These formations are known as Sand River gneiss. The exposed rock formations have been dated to 3 850 million years ago.
Matakwe Three Sisters: Matakwe is a single rock of bulai granite, covering 38 ha of Musina Experimental Farm. Visits to this interesting natural phenomenon are only by prior arrangement.