The fertile Levubu valley with its subtropical crops like avocados, bananas, litchis, guavas and macadamia and pecan nuts is often described as the fruit basket of Northern Limpopo. The Levubu valley runs east to west along the southern foot hills of the Soutpansberg mountains going east between Louis Trichardt and the Kruger National Park’s Punda Maria gate and is well worth a visit.
The Punda Maria gate is 140 km from Louis Trichardt. The Levubu commercial farming community with school, church and co-op is 50km from Louis Trichardt and 20km from Thohoyandou the capitol of Venda land. The Levubu river that feeds the valley is dammed in the Albasini dam, catch a bit more water smaller rivers, is dammed again in the Nandoni dam in Thohoyandou and eventually runs into the Limpopo river to the Atlantic ocean in Mozambique.
Almost all the tributaries to the Levubu has its origin in the Soutpansberg mountains.
Litchis in festive season
About 20km from Louis Trichard our first stop is at Gilbert’s farm at their Litchi pack house (only in packing season in summer) and to see local traditional healer in the old farm stall on the side of the road. Litchi and avocado orchards can be seen from the road from about 10km out of town. Litchis are harvested here from about end of November to mid-January each year. A visit to Gilbert Packers Packhouse can be arranged through Madi a Thavha mountain lodge only during packing season but traditional healer, Elvis can be visited any time of the year.
Friendly Ňanga or herbal healer at Gilbert Packers
Herbal healer Elvis Mavunga prepares his indigenous medicinal plants in Gilbert Packer’s former fruit stall next to the road. Elvis is well known among plant lovers and tree-book writers consult with him when it comes to the local names and medicinal properties of indigenous plants in Northern Limpopo.
Elvis has a warm and outgoing personality and gladly welcomes visitors. He is sometimes out in the field to collect plants to grind medicine powders or teas. His clients normally come and sit with him on the floor for consultations and that is where you will find him most of the times. Elvis says he received this calling from his ancestors through dreams as is the tradition in Venda culture.
Royal Macadamia packers and farm stall
Driving further east on the R524 following the slopes of the foothills of the Soutpansberg the road cuts through commercial farmland with macadamia nut, avocado, pecan nut, litchi, banana and mango orchards we go to Royal Mac, one of four macadamia pack houses in Levubu.
Royal Mac has a farm stall adjacent to their pack house with a variety of macadamia nut products. Macadamia nut flour can be used by gluten intolerant people and the cold-pressed Macadamia oil with its high smoke point a healthy oil for frying and salads. Royal Mac stock other producers like nougat from Tzaneen and has wonderful local preserves, jams and other nuts such as Pistachio, Cashews and Almonds. They bag the hard macadamia shells to be used as mulch in gardens or as gravel for roads. One even see embedded macadamia shells in cement stepping stones going towards the shop. The farm stall is not open on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays.
Levubu Dried fruit family business
Levubu Dried Fruit in the heart of the Levubu farming community , is where we go next. Levubu Dried Fruit is a family agro-processing business and farm already in the third generation. Ida Nel took the family business, of drying subtropical fruit of the valley, over from her mother, Emmie who started the business and her son Lian is helping her. Her husband André is the farmer.
The Cloetes have been one of the first pioneer families who ‘tamed’ the Levubu valley during the 1930’s. In those years, it rained a lot and they even tried to plant rice on the banks of the Levubu river.
On this farm one can see how fruit like mangoes, pineapples, guavas and bananas of the season are dried and packed. Some fruit like guavas gets sun-dried while other must dry indoors. Ida and André often show visitors their farm and one can buy dried fruit in small packs or bulk bags at the factory. They employ 40 plus people permanently.
From Levubu Dried Fruit one continue east through more subtropical orchards passing the heart of the community with co-op, church and the Primary school. On the road towards Vuwani we pop in at the Flower bunch a nursery where one can have coffee among the beautiful flowers and garden-plants of Limpopo. Witte Beetge is one of the biggest Palm and cycad farmers in South Africa, his daughter Marli runs The Flower bunch nursery.
From the Flower bunch in Levubu the options are many; either go north towards Tshakhuma’s local fruit market (again on the R524) and visit well known sculptor Mischak Raphalalani or go south back to Madi a Thavha via woodcarver David Murathi at Mashau and Elim where there are many other artists and crafters of northern Limpopo.
Rates Levubu Valley subtropical tour
|Levubu Valley subtropical tour|
|Tour including transport – tour guide – picnic. From 3 persons per person – valid until 31/10/2018||R 890|
|Tour including transport – tour guide – picnic. For 2 persons per person – valid until 31/10/2018||R 1335|