Soutpansberg Conservancy, Limpopo
The Soutpansberg Conservancy, consisting of 90 000 hectares, was formed to protect an incredibly sensitive and beautiful part of the world. Drive across the arid, flat vastness of the northern Limpopo Province, and the sandstone of the Soutpansberg intermittently breaks into view. That and the intensely green forests of the area are what is so attractive about coming here.
The Soutpansberg or “Tha vhani ya muno” (mountain of salt) is littered with yellowwood trees, forest fever trees, giant cabbage trees, proteas, ancient tree ferns, and another 500 or so tree species that make this terrain pretty unique and worth protecting. The Soutpansberg is also a key area to understanding the early relationships between Khoi, San and Bantu cultures, not least because of the plethora of rock art that litters caves and overhangs in the Soutpansberg. Specialists indicate the salt pans north of here as the main reason for such a gathering of people in these mountains, who probably used the Soutpansberg as refuge from the surrounding dry plains.
The Soutpansberg Mountains run for about 130 kilometres from east to west and are up to 60 kilometres wide. You don’t so much climb them as venture into them; the lower slopes littered with valleys and impassable bush whilst the heights take one through a canopy forest often shrouded in clouds.
The Soutpansberg is home to 60% of its birdlife, 40% of its mammals and 30% of its reptile species. No wonder it’s known as “the pantry” for its exceptional richness of life. The Soutpansberg is a region of national and international conservation importance as a high number of plant and wildlife species are found only here and nowhere else. This vast dominating range of mountains, stretching in a mighty panorama from east to west across the northern reaches of the Limpopo Province of South Africa, is unique in its splendour and beauty.
The myths and legends of the people of the North are interwoven into the mist-shrouded peaks and crags of these beautiful mountains. The trees, the plants and animals, many endemic to the region - ancient ruins of a people long gone - a legacy of rock engravings to mark the passage of the San hunters and gatherers many centuries before, combine to create fascinating insight into an area and its people.