The Soutpansberg or "Tha vhani ya muno" (Mountain of Salt), is a vast dominating mountain range stretching for approximately 200km in an east-west direction across the northern reaches of the Limpopo Province. It derives its name from the large salt-pans found at the base of its northern slope in the west - pans which have probably been used by game since time immemorial, and whose salt has been exploited from Stone Age times right up to the present.
Yellowwood trees, proteas, ruins older than great Zimbabwe, baobabs, tree ferns and other plants and animals which occur in no other place in the world, make the Soutpansberg one of the most unique natural areas in our country.
Geology of the Soutpansberg
The extremely hard reddish brown quartzite rocks were deposited about 1 800 million years ago in the form of sandstone and bands of conglomerate which underwent intense metamorphism. The red colour is caused by red iron oxide formed by oxidation. This represents the oldest known geological evidence of oxygen in the atmosphere formed by photosynthesis from CO2 and brought about by early chlorophyll-containing micro-organisms. This heralded the commencement of the evolution of present-day plant life and of an animal kingdom dependent thereon. In places the quartzite is interrupted by several intrusions, mainly of dolerite (diabase), the weathering of which gave rise to localised rich clay soils.
The Soutpansberg Mountains were formed by successive faulting, which began 2 700 million years ago by the seismic action of the Limpopo mobile belt. Much more recent block-faulting, less than 150 million years ago caused the strata to dip to the north and rise in the south, forming the main cliff lines which are south-facing, with northern sides dipping at about 45 deg.
The Soutpansberg strata became overlain by mostly softer Karoo sediments which became eroded away, in part by rivers. When these rivers wore down to the hard Soutpansberg strata, they continued along their original paths, giving rise to gorges traversing the E-W-striking hard quartzite ridges.
Past People of the Soutpansberg
The earliest signs of man in the Soutpansberg are reflected in artefacts dating from the Early Stone Age. The stone-tool industry from the Middle to the Late Stone Ages is well represented and reflects a great variety of cultures. There are also a number of Early Iron Age sites that have been identified, indicating evidence that these people knew how to smelt iron, glass, copper and gold.
This is one of the few regions where both engraving and painting rock art co-occur. Three painting traditions occurred, each linked to a specific culture. San paintings are distinctive and have a finer quality, reflecting a brush application. The other two traditions used their fingers. Khoekhoe paintings consist mainly of geometric images, dots, lines, representational forms and handprints. These paintings are usually red in colour, but white ones or a combination occur. Northern Sotho Paintings comprise of white finger paintings many relating to contact with early colonialists, and depict men on horseback, wagons, trains and motor vehicles.
The Soutpansberg is the ‘traditional home’ of many Venda tribes and Coenraad de Buys was the first settler in the area in 1821. In the 1830s the Voortrekkers arrived and established the town, Schoemansdal, which was the most important trading centre in the Northern Transvaal where ivory, game skins, horns, wood and salt changed hands.
Missionaries entered the area from the late 1860s. With their arrival, and their commitment to enforcing what they saw as conformity to doctrinally pure Christianity, new tensions were introduced.
Climate of the Soutpansberg
The topography of the Soutpansberg Mountain range has resulted in a unique local micro-climate. Warm moisture-laden winds from the Mozambique channel rise up the steep southerly slopes and with the resultant cooling, condense and form a mist which often turns to rain. This micro-climate changes dramatically from the highest southern ridges, when the rainfall drops and one enters a much drier and rocky bushveld to the north.
This is a summer rainfall area, with summer temperatures averaging 30º C and 20 - 25º C in winter during daytime
The different Soutpansberg accommodation types offer quality accommodation in Louis Trichardt and the Soutpansberg Mountains for holiday and business travel.
Soutpansberg accommodation options include hotels, lodges, guest houses, bed and breakfast and self catering accommodation including holiday homes, apartment rentals and suites. Your Soutpansberg accommodation needs can however be looked after at Mashovhela Lodge.
Mashovhela Lodge in the Soutpansberg, accommodation options include: Bed and Breakfast; Dinner, Bed and Breakfast or Full Board. It is situated just off the N1 just north of Louis Trichardt