Gravelotte, Valley of the Olifants

The little town of Gravelotte, in the Bushveld region of the Limpopo, lies roughly half way between Tzaneen and Phalaborwa, west of the Kruger National Park and around five hours’ drive from Johannesburg.

It is no surprise that very few people know of Gravelotte’s existence, situated as it is in the nether reaches of the Limpopo province on the lesser travelled R526. But the town’s main claim to fame should entice more than a few visitors - a liquor bar in the trunk of a giant Baobab tree, just 4 kilometres from town, is hard to pass up!

Gravelotte is more than likely named after the little village in Lorraine, France of the same name. Its namesake was the scene of the famous battle between the Germans and the French in 1870, known as the battle of Gravelotte. The French saying ‘ça tombe comme à Gravelotte’, which directly translates into ‘they’re falling like at Gravelotte’ but actually means something along the lines of ‘it’s raining cats and dogs’, obviously doesn’t apply to the South African village set in one of the hottest climes in the country! Here the distinction between summer and winter is hardly discernable, making it a great destination all year round.

Gravelotte lies in the country’s northernmost province, which may have something to do with its anonymity, but this part of the world is exceptionally beautiful and is largely given over to bushveld plains, the mighty northern Drakensberg visible in the distance. The Kruger National Park, two-thirds of which lies in the Limpopo, lies just west of the little town, one of the country’s major draw cards.

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