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Tzaneen Accommodation

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Tea plantation in Tzaneen  © Rob Hooft, License


Tzaneen is a small town in the Limpopo province in South Africa. It is approximately 100km away from the very popular holiday destination, The Kruger National Park. Tzaneen has a large range of fruits growing in the area such as bananas, oranges, mangoes and avocadoes to mention only a few. There are many attractions in the area as well as a number of game reserves.

Situated at the foot of the imposing Wolkberg Mountains. More than 80 000 people reside in its area of jurisdiction. The town is the main trading center for more than 650 000 people living within a 30 km radius.

Tzaneen, named after "tsaneng" (gathering place) or "tsana" (basket of hills), is a busy town in the picturesque Letaba district, comprising 20 000 km of tropical and subtropical farming in the Letsitele River Valley. The "capital" of the region, the town is the province's centre for subtropical agriculture and winter vegetables. It produces the majority of the country's mangos, avocado pears, paw-paws, tea and coffee, and contributes substantially to the total production of timber, citrus, litchis and other crops.

Tzaneen is wellendowed with natural resources necessary for economic growth: fertile land, abundant water supplies, access to labour and a sub-tropical climate. Timber has been grown in the area since the turn of the century and nearly forty sawmills are in full production processing pine and bluegum trees.

Within easy reach there are fascinating archaeological sites, mighty baobab trees, wildlife and nature reserves, as well as a superb range of tourism facilities. Situated below the scenic splendour of Magoebaskloof in a subtropical district, Tzaneen offers the visitor a change of scenery at almost every turn of the road. The mountainous landscape, the subtropical climate, the lush indigenous vegetation which alternates with plantations, and the largely unspoilt natural environment, make this picturesque area one of the most attractive recreation and tourist areas in South Africa.

The Modjadji Cycad Reserve contains the largest concentration of a single cycad species in the world. This particular species (Encephalartos transvenosus) dates back 50 to 60 million years and was abundant during the heyday of the dinosaurs. Some of the cycads stand over 13 m in height. The Cycad Reserve was declared a national monument in 1936. Nearby, in comparative isolation and protected from visitors, lives the Rain Queen, and her people the Bolobedu, whose ancestors lived in this area and nurtured the cycads for over three centuries.

There are more cultural treasures. Discover the Shangaan, Sotho and Venda people each with their intriguing legends, cultures, crafts, arts, dances and ethnic lifestyles. The Tsonga Kraal Museum (in the Hans Merensky Nature Reserve) is a living museum depicting the lifestyle of the Shangaan/Tsonga people.

Tzaneen Dam Nature Reserve, is a popular venue for anglers and campers. About 70 km east of this is the Hans Merensky Nature Reserve which includes the Eiland Mineral Spa (named after a large island of 35 ha situated on the farm in the Letaba River). The area is rich in archaeological remains. The Reserve conserves a section of the arid lowveld veld type. A large variety of animals roam the reserve, including the rare sable antelope and grysbok.

Visitors to Tzaneen are assured a relaxing stay in the quiet historical streets of a genuine hospitable, economically significant town. Not to be missed is the quaint Tzaneen Museum. It hosts ethnological artefacts such as weapons, pottery, beadwork, the largest collection of pole carvings in the country, royal drums from the Rain Queen Modjadji, sacred drums as well as a collection of prehistoric pottery, almost 2 000 years old.

One of the interesting persons that left their mark was Dr Siegfried Annecke, at the forefront of the battle against malaria that was an extremely serious problem in the district in the 1930s. The annual number of patients averaged 4 000 at that time. Largely through his efforts the incidence of malaria decreased steadily and by 1966 was virtually eradicated. Tzaneen is still malaria free. The Research Institute in Tzaneen, which today is involved in both malaria and bilharzia research, carries the name of Siegfried Annecke.

Ofcolaco is another settlement with an interesting story. It was established by a group of redundant British Regular and Indian Army officers who formed the Officers Colonial Land Company - whence came the name Ofcolaco - and they set out to tame this corner of Africa. The Ofcolaco Club still thrives and some "pukkah" traditions are observed.

Over the last couple of years the Tzaneen area has developed enormously to cater for the increasing market of overseas and local travellers. In so doing it has geared itself up and can now offer a huge assortment of accommodation facilities to suit any need. From camping facilities to caravan parks, self catering cottages, log cabins and chalets, guesthouses and B&Bs, lodges and five-star hotels.

Activities and Attractions:

Commonwealth Plantation
This 10,7 ha plantation contains three varieties of Eucalyptus trees planted as an experimental plot in 1914. In 1939 the plot was "dedicated" to the Commonwealth Forestry Commission when their annual conference was held in South Africa. These are magnificent trees, averaging 55 m in height, and the atmosphere inside this small manmade forest is serene. The plantation is situated within Sapekoe's Middelkop Tea Estate, and is virtually next to the R71, 7 km from the Tzaneen/Duivelskloof road turn-off.

The Ebenezer and Tzaneen Dams irrigate the Letaba Valley and are popular recreational spots.

Debegeni Waterfall
One of the most accessible and attractive cascades in the area where there is a delightful picnic spot surrounded by beautiful indigenous forest.

Tea gardens, curio shops, farm stalls and stunning nurseries abound in the area surrounding Tzaneen.

Georges Valley
A spectacular drive named after the road builder who loved the scenery so much that he created detours and lay-byes so that people should get the best views.

Hans Merensky Nature Reserve
Game drives, walking trails and educational displays. In the reserve lies Aventura Eiland Hot Springs Resort which has a variety of swimming pools, water slides and recreational facilities developed round the hot mineral springs on the banks of the Great Letaba River. Accommodation is offered in modern rondavels and a caravan park. The adjacent traditional Tsonga Kraal offers guided tours during the week.

Hiking trails
Many through the Magoebaskloof area. Varying in length, all afford wonderful views, shady resting places and an encounter with abundant bird life.

Another "gold rush" town, dating back to the end of last century. Historic buildings, a fascinating cemetery and a big baobab tree, once the site of the local pub, make this an interesting place to visit.

Magoebaskloof look-out spot
Few places provide a more significant setting than this spot at the peak of Magoebaskloof.

Modjadji Cycad Reserve
A park in the exquisitely beautiful Mooketsi Valley, boasting the largest concentration of a single species of cycad in the world. A small museum is dedicated to the eponymous Rain Queen and a number of walks can be taken.

New Agatha Forest Station
Now a hotel, this building was the staging post of the Zeederberg Coach Company, which ran a service between Pietersburg and Leydsdorp in the 19th century.

Sapekoe Tea Estate
Established in 1963, these sprawling tea plantations offer fascinating estate and factory tours. Sample a cup of tea and enjoy the bird's eye view in the garden.

Scenic drives
The magnificence of the Letaba Valley lends itself to scenic drives, and a number can be taken through the area. One such drive takes in the R71 Magoebaskloof Pass and the R528 along the Great Letaba River, passing the 2127 m Wolkberg at the southern part of the valley.

Siegfried Annecke Research Institute
Named after a pioneer in methods to combat malaria in the lowveld.

Tzaneen Museum
A quaint but highly respected museum, whose permanent exhibits include ethnological artefacts such as weapons, pottery, African drums and utensils. A series of local reference books are also housed here.

Wegraakbosch Farm
Fun for the whole family on this farm with its farm animals. See how cheese is made over an open fire in a huge copper cauldron. Walk through indigenous rain forest or relax with a glass of wine and a cheese platter. Taste the goodness of the mountain in the organic preservative-free yoghurt, cottage, feta and mutchli cheeses. Cheese-making at 9:30. Hand-milking can be seen at 15:00.

Woodbush Drive
This is the road which passes the Debegeni Waterfall entrance and winds through the biggest indigenous forest in the province. Over forty species of indigenous trees are found in this area. The black-fronted bush shrike, normally resident along the eastern borders of Zimbabwe, has only been recorded in South Africa within the Woodbush. There is also a gum tree (Eucalyptus saligna) which at a height of 82,5 metres, is generally accepted as the tallest man-planted tree in the world.

Tzaneen is situated in Limpopo which enjoys a moderate climate with warm to hot summers with most rainfall in the afternoons as thunderstorms. The winters are dry but enjoyable, with sunny days and temperatures dropping in the evenings.

The Hans Merensky Nature Reserve is approximately 70km away from Tzaneen and is a great getaway for the whole family. The reserve offers game viewing, bird watching and hiking trails. There are many animals to be seen such as giraffe, sable, leopard and many more. Another attraction for the whole family to enjoy is the Ribolla Arts and Crafts Route which is a very interesting route. You will get to see many artists performing traditional dances, singing, storytelling and artworks that are beautifully hand crafted by the locals. The Meropa Casino is the closest casino in the area where you can relax at a restaurant with family and friends and enjoy a delicious meal in good company. You can also try your luck at the variety of slot machines or betting tables. The casino has entertainment for all ages, the whole family is catered for.

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