Louis Trichardt Tourist Attractions
Louis Trichardt is magnificently situated in a fertile valley at the foot of the Soutpansberg, in the far northeast of South Africa. With a pleasantly warm climate, a relatively high rainfall (an annual 940mm/37in.) and fertile soils, this is an intensively cultivated agricultural area, with large farms rearing cattle and growing citrus fruits, pears, avocados, pistachios and vegetables.
Louis Trichardt itself has no sights of outstanding interest, but there are a number of nature reserves in the area which are well worth a visit. Moreover the northern part of the Kruger National Park is no more than 140km/87mi away.The town is named after the Boer leader Louis Trichardt, who set up camp in this area in 1836. He was followed by other settlers, and in 1847 the little township of Zoutpansbergdorp was founded. This attracted ivory and cattle dealers as well as adventurers, who fought among themselves but combined against the Venda, a Bantu people who are believed to have come to this area from Zimbabwe around 800 years ago. The Venda put up fierce resistance to the advance of the European settlers, who in 1867 were forced to abandon the town, which was then destroyed by the Venda. The Transvaal government regained control of the area only in 1898, and in the following year Louis Trichardt was founded as its administrative center.
This little fort, near the Municipal Building, was built at the end of the 19th C to provide protection for the inhabitants of the town. It can be seen only from outside.
Indigenous Tree Park
The Indigenous Tree Park has numbers of handsome old trees.
Louis Trichardt's Surroundings
Lakes, dams, national parks and the former homeland of Thohoyandou are seen surrounding Louis Trichardt.
The road running north from Louis Trichardt winds its way up the slopes of the Soutpansberg to a pass (1,524m/5,000ft), 10km/6mi from the town, from which there are superb views of the Soutpansberg (named after a large salt-pan in the western part of the range which supplied salt to the inhabitants of the area from prehistoric times onwards). The road then continues through a fertile valley to Wyllie's Poort, where the old pass road has been replaced by two tunnels.
Soutspanberg Hiking Trail
The mountain country round Louis Trichardt can be explored on this 91km/57mi long trail (which can also be divided into shorter sections). The whole trail takes five days, with overnight stops in huts accommodating up to 30 people.
The Albasini Dam, 18km/11mi east of Louis Trichardt, has facilities for fishing and various water sports.
Ben Lavin Nature Reserve
The Ben Lavin Nature Reserve (area 2,500 ha/6,175ac), 12km/7.5mi southeast of Louis Trichardt, is a good place for a stopover (camping site). The green plains in the reserve are home to giraffes, impalas, wildebeests and zebras, as well as many species of birds.
90km/56mi east of Louis Trichardt on R 524 is Thohoyandou, formerly capital of the homeland of Venda. With an area of 7, 410sq km/2,860sq mi and a population of 500,000, Venda was the smallest of the ''independent'' homelands and, like the others, was not economically viable.The town is named after a legendary Venda leader. It was rebuilt after the establishment of the homeland in 1973 and is now a modern African town with a university. There is a small museum devoted to the history of the Venda people. The town caters for tourist needs with a hotel, and the Ditike Craft Centre, where Venda craft products can be purchased.
Thohoyandou is a good base from which to explore the surrounding country, which is almost exclusively inhabited by the Venda; organized tours can be booked in the tourist bureau. Here, away from the crowded tourist areas, are expanses of beautiful country, still largely unspoiled. Most of the Venda still live in their traditional villages under the direction of chiefs and medicine-men. Many places are associated with myths and legends of the Venda people. Lake Fundudzi, northwest of Thohoyandou, is said to be the home of a giant snake which is venerated as a fertility symbol; a permit to visit the lake must be obtained through the tourist bureau in Thohoyandou.
From Thohoyandou a road runs northwest to Wyllie's Poort. Off this road, in the Nzhelele valley, is the site of Dzata, once the chief town of the Venda people, with remains of the walls which surrounded it.
Nwanedi National Park
Nwanedi National Park lies almost 80km/50mi north of Thohoyandou on a poor track; there is a better road by way of the village of Tshipise. The National Park, established in 1981, has small stocks of giraffes, zebras and impalas; there is some accommodation for visitors.