Limpopo DestinationsLouis Trichardt, Soutpansberg
Lying at the foot of the densely forested Soutpansberg mountain range, Louis Trichardt and the surrounding area is the land of litchis, bananas, mangoes, nuts, tea and coffee - a rugged hot terrain famous for the giant baobab and the indigo mountains in whose shadow it rests.
A typical ‘boere’ town, Louis Trichardt is small, charming and popular because it serves as a thoroughfare for all of those coming from or going to the Kruger National Park. The national road, the N1, runs right through the town, which makes it an important commercial, industrial and residential centre in this northern part of the country - no surprise that it is regarded as the ‘gateway to Africa’.
Louis Trichardt, known briefly as Makhado, recently reverted to its original name after a court ruled that the change that led to the town being renamed Makhado in June 2003 be set aside. A lot of controversy surrounded the initial name change to Makhado, after a Venda King who ruled the region during the mid to late 1880s. Various Afrikaner groups and a group of Shangaan, Pedi and Indian residents, who considered Makhado an oppressor, were amongst those who spoke out against the name change, and a statue of Makhado that replaced that of Louis Trichardt was vandalised within months of its unveiling.
The Schoemansdal Open Air Museum gives one a good idea of just what it was like for early pioneers, like Louis Trichardt and Hans van Rensburg. The Ben Lavin Nature Reserve, fairly close to Louis Trichardt, not only offers some fairly fascinating archaeological sites, mammals, birds and wonderful trees, but mountain biking, hiking and game drives make it a must, and the local fruit route to farms that grow a variety of fruit and nuts, is an added bonus if you’re staying in the area.