Louis Trichardt (Makhado)
Route: The African Ivory Route
Louis Trichardt is at the foot of the densely forested Soutpansberg Range near the Zimbabwean border and the Kruger National Park, in a highly fertile, rapidly growing agricultural area, Louis Trichardt has become one of the Limpopo's premier business and tourist destinations.
The town lies 100 km north of Polokwane and 100 km south of the Beit Bridge border post. The N1 passes through Louis Trichardt that forms part of the Maputo sub-corridor. The town has a population of 120 000 and 600 000 within a 50 km radius.
The town is named after the Voortrekker leader Louis Trichardt. A memorial commemorates the man, who during the Great Trek in 1838, wanted to move as far away as possible from British rule. After an arduous trip of 12 months to Delagoa Bay (Maputo today), Trichardt and his wife died of malaria.
The Church of the Covenant was built after the battle between the early settlers and the Vendas and the white building stands in striking contrast to the blue mountains in the distance. Fort Hendrina was a mobile fort used during the Anglo-Boer War from where many of the atrocities by the infamous Breaker Morant were perpetrated.
Schoemansdal Open Air Museum portrays the way of life of those early pioneers.
Several routes around Louis Trichardt highlight the interesting aspects of the area, such as the fruit route to farms where a variety of fruit and nuts are produced and the arts and craft route in the Elim area where sisal mats, candles, silk-screen prints, batik articles, traditional Venda pots and wood carvings are made. It is also possible to see the life of the Shangaan people.
A wide variety of hiking, horse- and mountain bike trails, guided or unguided, can be undertaken: The Soutpansberg Hiking Trail (two days circular, 21 km); Ben Lavin Nature Reserve (18 km of walking trails); Greater Kuduland (guided and unguided game walks); Schoemansdal Environmental Education Centre (7 km); Lesheba Wilderness; Lajuma Mountain Retreat (6 km) and Medike Mountain Reserve (scenic mountain and riverine trails). Various 4x4 routes are extremely popular.
Activities and Attractions
Louis Trichardt - Southern Areas
Ben Lavin Nature Reserve
Beautiful views, fascinating archaeological sites dating to 1250 AD, over 160 tree species, 250 bird species and 50 mammal species. Mountain biking, hiking, birding, game drives.
Church of the Vow
One of two in South Africa, the other being in Pietermaritzburg. Designed by Gerhard Moerdyk and built in 1926. Erected in honour of a vow made on 16 October 1898, shortly before the Republican attack on the Venda monarch Mphephu.
Collapsible fort used during 1887 as protection for 25 artillerymen and 100 mounted police. Next to municipal library in Erasmus Street.
Hanglip picnic-site and forest
A superb bird-watching site, one of the few in the country where the Narina Trogon, Purple-crested Loerie and Knysna Loerie have all been spotted. Trails through scenic wooded countryside boast trees of worldwide dendrological interest. All trees are marked. Forestry Road north of town. Drive up the mountain, park at the boom and walk 150 m to the site.
Indigenous Tree Sanctuary
Features 145 regional indigenous trees. Situated at the N1, Trichardt Street intersection.
Beautifully manicured gardens commemorate victims of various local and international conflicts. A plaque commemorates the first school north of the Vaal River.
A private residence providing one of the country's finest examples of 18th century architecture. Has been declared a national monument. Snyman Street extension. Phone before visiting. Tel. (015) 516-0318.
An eerie venue in the Indigenous Tree Sanctuary.
Louis Trichardt - Western Areas
Blouberg Mountain and Nature Reserve
A small picturesque reserve. Bird species can be spotted while enjoying a shady picnic. West of Vivo.
The settlement of the descendants of Coenraad de Buys who settled in the area many years before the arrival of the Voortrekkers. On the R522 to Vivo.
Grave of Andries Hendrik Potgieter
In the cemetery at the Schoemansdal Museum.
Langjan Nature Reserve
Typical Kalahari sandveld with scenic red sand dunes conserves the last remaining naturally occurring herd of gemsbok in the Limpopo. On the R521 to Alldays, 22 km from Vivo.
Mara Agricultural Development Centre
The Bonsmara cattle breed was developed at this station, 54 km west of Louis Trichardt.
Numerous sites on various farms throughout the region. Contact Soutpansberg Information Office.
Schoemansdal Environmental Education Centre
An innovative centre offering the perfect venue for a family or school outing, introducing visitors to the extensive animal and bird life of the Happy Rest Nature Reserve. Situated 20 km west of town on the R522 to Vivo.
Commemorates South Africa's pioneering history, 15 km west on the R522 to Vivo.
Louis Trichardt - Eastern Areas
Named after Joao Albasini and built on his farm, 25 km from Louis Trichardt on the Levubu Road, or 12 km from Elim on the Levubu/Vuwani Road. Boating and angling available.
A small museum in the Elim Hospital commemorates the work of Swiss doctors and missionaries famous for their research on eyesight. Turn left off the N1 onto the R578 to Giyani via Elim, south of Louis Trichardt. Entrance is to the left at fourway stop at Elim.
Grave of Joao Albasini
A gravesite commemorated annually by the local Shangaan for a man who became their tribal chief and the Portuguese Vice-Consul in the early 1800s. Opposite picnic spot at dam wall.
Lemana College of Education
A newly proclaimed national monument near Elim Hospital was established in 1908 as one of the first higher educational institutions in the area.
Mambedi Tea Estates
The scenic estates can be viewed by appointment. On the Elim/Levubu/Vuwani Road between Elim and Levubu.
Traditional Venda pottery on the R578 at the Riverplaats turn-off after crossing the mountain. Left to Mashamba Post Office.
Middle Letaba Dam
South of Elim on the R578 to Giyani.
Rivoni Society for the Blind
Articles such as sisal mats, candles, coat hangers and diamond mesh fencing are being made by the blind. Cross the fourway stop at Elim, drive on for a few hundred metres until you see the sign on the right.
Some of the most creative local textile designs are on offer here. Cross the fourway stop at Elim on the R578, continue up the mountain, turn left at the Shirley farm Road.
On the R578 at the foot of the mountain. Turn right at the Mbokota village and immediately left at the first road and ask the villagers for directions.
Louis Trichardt - Northern Areas
To Happy Rest Nature Reserve Scenic drive across the Soutpansberg - north of Louis Trichardt on the N1 past the Mountain Inn Hotel.
Situated on a private farm off the Mopane Road near Waterpoort. Information from Soutpansberg Information Office.
Masekwaspoort and picnic spot
Some 25 km north of Louis Trichardt on the N1.
The Soutpansberg Mountains were named after the saltpans, Crystal Springs and Bergpan. Guided tours of the pans are available. On the R523 between Waterpoort and Vivo.
Van Collers Pass
Named after At van Coller who built the pass in ±1946.
Waterpoort Railway Bridge
The historical single-line steel railway bridge built around 1928 was in service until 1975. At Waterpoort on R523.
The 76 km scenic drive leads through mountain scenery, fruit orchards and plantations to Piesanghoek, 5 km north of town on the N1.
Wylliespoort and Verwoerd Tunnels
Spectacular scenery on the way through the Soutpansberg mountain range, 20 km north of Louis Trichardt on the N1.
Limpopo Tourism and Parks Board
PO Box 1309, Polokwane, 0700, South Africa
Tel. (+27 15) 288 0099
Fax. (+27 15) 288 0094
Soutpansberg Marketing & Tourism Association
PO Box 331, Louis Trichardt. 0920 South Africa
Tel. (+27 15) 516 0040
Fax. (+27 15) 516 0040