The Soutpansberg Mountains (literally Salt Pan Mountains) are South Africa's northernmost mountain range. These mountains get their name from the large salt pans that are located on along the north western edge of the range. The area is dominated by the mountain range, but the surrounding area is rich in local animal life, historical and cultural diversity.
The Soutpansberg Mountains stretch for about 130 kilometres from east to west along the northern edges of the Limpopo Province in the northern part of South Africa. The range differs in width from about 18 to 32 kilometres. The range has many peaks, most of which are over 1 500 metres. One of the highest peaks in the range is Hangklip that reaches 2 550 metres into the air. The Soutpansberg area creates a unique wilderness that contains over 500 different species of trees - 50 of which are endemic to the Soutpansberg area. One of the most amazing specimens is a baobab tree that is over 3 000 years old - one of the oldest trees in the country.
|The majestic Soutpansberg shrouded in mist
Those areas of the Soutpansberg area that is not used as agricultural ground, is given over to conservation. This leads to a large number of game reserves and national parks where some of Africa's iconic animals can easily be spotted. Many of the reserves are private game farms offering luxury accommodation and service, but there are also government run parks that offer more affordable, if less luxurious, accommodation as well. The Kruger National Park, South Africa's largest national park can be reached via two gates that are also in the Soutpansberg area.
The Soutpansberg area offers a variety of activities for visitors. Fishing in the many rivers of the area, cultural tours through the old kingdom of Venda and horseback rides along scenic mountain routes are just some of the positive attractions in the area. Take a guided tour of the ruins of several old Iron Age villages or follow the history of the Swedish missionaries who founded the Elim Missionary Hospital Museum where they served the locals for over 150 years.
No visit to the Soutpansbeg area would be complete without a visit to the salt pans that give the mountains their name. Only a short distance away from the city of Makhado/Louis Trichardt, the salt pans have been used since prehistory as a source of salt. Even today the salt is still being mined from the pans. There are guided tours available of the salt pans and the salt mining operations, but some areas of the pans are open to the public.
The Soutpansberg Mountain area is a diverse area with a many diversions for visitors to the area. From the remains of ancient civilisations to the wildlife that have called this place home before mankind set foot here, there is always something to see and do in the shadow of the great Soutpansberg.
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