Travel 23.9.2017 06:45 am

Lots to love in Limpopo

Lerato Kganyago. Picture by Phalaphala FM Royal Heritage Festival

Lerato Kganyago. Picture by Phalaphala FM Royal Heritage Festival

So many bad things have been said about Venda, but I’m pretty sure that the naysayers have actually never been there.

A recent visit to Thohoyandou was a really an eye-opening experience for me. At first I was a bit sceptical about going to Limpopo because of the high temperatures that side, but my love for exploring new environments took me there.

Invited to attend one of the biggest music festivals in South Africa, the Royal Heritage Festival, I was keen to be part of the experience, so I packed my bags and hit the road.

So many bad things have been said about Venda, but I’m pretty sure that the naysayers have actually never been there.

My naïve opinion of what I thought the area was like changed the moment I arrived in Thohoyandou, Venda, after a five-hour drive from Johannesburg.

I wanted to get a sense of the place the minute I arrived, but unfortunately we got there in the middle of the night. I couldn’t wait for the morning to come. But little did I know what exciting adventures it would bring.

The weekend festivities started off with a 10km Fun Walk to Royal Gardens, Nandoni Dam, led by His Majesty King Mphephu Ramabulana.

It wasn’t the easiest walk if you’re not accustomed to hot weather. But what struck me was that the people of Venda came out in their numbers to join in.

Young and old walked 10km hand-in-hand and enjoyed every moment of it. Even though I struggled, the three kilometres that I managed to complete made me realise the importance of living a healthy lifestyle. I guess I’ll be hitting the gym soon.

The walk was followed by a more traditional experience: Musangwe, which is the Venda tradition of bare-knuckle fist-fighting. I’m not the biggest a fan of boxing but watching the traditional fi ghts had me on my toes.

It didn’t feel like a game, every punch was so real I got an adrenaline rush just watching it.

Then we headed back to our home for the weekend, the threestar hotel, Muofhe Graceland Lodge. It’s located in the Vhembe district of Venda, just 10 minutes from Khoroni Hotel, formerly known as Venda Sun.

It’s in the hub of Venda surrounded by the best restaurants in town and just around the corner there are lakes and leisure spots with some very distinctive trees.

The lodge gives one a sense of heritage blended with comfort as the décor is a representation of Venda culture. Rumour has it that we were staying at one of the best hotels in Venda and their impeccable hospitality seemed to prove it.

The scenic views of Limpopo are a breath of fresh air and Thohoyandou was fascinating because it didn’t look or feel like I was in a village at all, contrary to popular belief.

The people were so warm and welcoming, a true home away from home. The music festival started on Friday and 20 000 people were in attendance.

Those two nights turned out to be one of the best experiences I’ve ever had in my life.

The crowd showed love for each and every artist who performed, either by singing along to their songs or dancing up a storm.

Aft er a fun-filled weekend, it was time to head back home, but first we made a quick stop at the Tshakuma fruit market for some fresh fruit.

The market was established more than 40 years ago and it’s the only 24-hour fruit market in South Africa.

The moral of the story is: never a judge a place based on what you have heard about it . Go and experience it for yourself and maybe you will come back with a different narrative.

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