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Off the beaten track.

Something new to see and experience.

A new adventure.

Different cultures and hidden secrets.

There to see but not explored – Route 71 – Limpopo, South Africa.

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Magoebaskloof – Photo by Emmarose Eacher

From Polokwane to Phalaborwa – a different route from Gauteng through the countryside of the north-eastern corner of South Africa. On route to the iconic Kruger National Park. The R71 veers off the N1 at Polokwane to the town of Palaborwa that borders the Kruger National Park.

For the tourist the scenery changes drastically from the mostly Highveld climate of Polokwane through the sub-tropical “fruit basket” to the dry Bushveld surrounding Phalaborwa.


Visit the craft-rich festival town of Haenertsburg. It has its own brewery! It is often shrouded in mist and soft rain, lying on the slopes of the Wolkberg and Drakensberg Mountains, between Tzaneen and Polokwane. The arty, neat town is abuzz with activity during its festivals: berries in February, food and wine in May and the spring festival.

Take the Magoebaskloof pass that tempt travelers to stop at one of several outlets for a culinary treat or fruit or nuts from an informal road stall. This pass spirals down a dense sub-tropical forest, cool, moist and breath taking beautiful scenery. The Magoebaskloof Mountains mark the end of the Drakensberg in the north.

A few kilometers before turning onto the highway for the final stretch to the town of Tzaneen, is a turnoff to the wonderful Debegeni Waterfall, protected by a nature reserve with impressive plantations of exceptional trees. It is open to day-visitors who want to picnic, swim in icy rock pools or do some rock sliding at safe places.

Debegeni Waterfalls – Photo by Hougaard Malan

The valley of Tzaneen nestles in what is known as the “fruit basket” of South Africa. Bananas, various types of citrus, litchis, mangoes amongst others, make their bountiful appearance. The area also boasts the biggest concentration of game ranches in southern Africa. The Modjadji Cycad Reserve has the largest concentration of a single cycad species in the world. Tzaneen is ever-green, even when drought threatens. From here the route continues to Phalaborwa (104km’s), via the one-horse town of Gravelotte.

Just before reaching Gravelotte and after a long day the tourist will find Kilima Private Game Reserve and Spa. Be surprised and relax for a day or two to be spoiled in 5 star luxury and enchanting cuisine while enjoying the splendor of the private game reserve. Visit Kukura Wellness Spa to reduce tension and induce relaxation. Spoil yourself. You’re worth it!

Kilima Private Game Reserve and Spa

After a refreshing stay at Kilima Private Game Reserve and Spa travel on to reach Phalaborwa and the gateway to the Kruger National Park on Route 71. This area has the highest winter temperatures in South Africa. Phalaborwa is also home to the famous Amarula cream liqueur.

Come on and enjoy Route 71!

By JJ Dekker


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