Nature Reserve, Beach or Mall?

Finding things to do with our children in the holidays can be challenging at the best of times, and seemingly impossible at others. We often succumb to the lure of the familiar – “the kids love the beach, and we always go there, so let’s just go to the beach.” Or, “the kids prefer to hang out at the shopping malls with their friends and eat fast food, so we’re not planning a holiday this year.” Or perhaps we feel guilty for not having spent what we feel is enough quality time with our children during the year, so we overcompensate with an expensive overseas holiday that we spend the rest of the year paying off.

But there are so many other things we could be doing. So many truly wonderful places to explore within the borders of our own country. Places that don’t have wifi and kids’ clubs and all-night entertainment, but which do offer an enriching, fun, educational and quality family experience. The chance to create real memories to last a lifetime, while at the same time also gaining valuable and fascinating insight into a different culture.

It is an incredibly rewarding and humbling experience to rediscover the world through your children’s eyes. When you take them away from their laptops and give them the chance to meet local people and understand different lifestyles, it could be the start of a cultural journey that will last a lifetime.

Metaphysical Tourism – It’s A Thing!

Religious and spiritual beliefs are a truly fascinating part of a people’s culture to explore. Perhaps this is one of the reasons why “metaphysical tourism” or sacred travel, is a growing niche in the international travel market. Many people in search of spiritual enlightenment and cultural enrichment travel to “spiritual hotspots” all over the world.

Stonehenge, Uluru, the Mayan ruins, Easter Island….they all have sacred significance, and origins shrouded in mystery. Some of these sacred sites are man-made, while others are natural, but all have a certain mystique that so many find irresistible.

Our reasons for visiting these, and other, sacred sites, are as many and diverse as the sites themselves. For some travellers, the pull of ancient mythology is too strong to resist. Others hope to find peace, inspiration, enlightenment or self-fulfilment. Whatever our reasons, there’s no denying that sacred sites exert an inexplicable pull on us, intriguing us with the lure of something that’s hard to define, but which is hard to resist.

Sacred Sites In South Africa

Here in South Africa, we have many fascinating cultures, each with their own set of spiritual beliefs, and sites of sacred significance. The Venda people, of the Soutpansberg Mountains area of Northern Limpopo, for example, are no exception. The entire area is steeped in sacred meaning and cultural significance, and no one should miss the chance to visit and learn more about this fascinating people.

Lake Fundudzi

Lake Fundudzi is probably the most sacred site in Venda culture. Situated in the Thathe Vondo Forest, the lake has many legends attached to it. One says a broken-hearted man walked into the lake and turned into a python. The python became the god of fertility who cares for the crops. Every year, the pouring of sacrificial beer into the lake keeps him happy. In addition, Venda maidens perform their famous Domba-python dance on the shores of the lake to ensure good rains.

You can find out more about the fascinating legends surrounding Lake Fundudzi here.

Thathe Vondo Forest

Very few Venda people venture into the Thate Vondo forest, which surrounds Lake Fundudzi. It is so thick with giant trees, ferns and creepers that it is all but impenetrable on foot.

The Venda believe it is full of spirits and guarded by two mythical creatures – the white lion and the thunder and lightning bird. Legend has it that the lion is the spirit of Nethathe, who was an important chief. The bird, called Ndadzi, flies on the wings of thunder and has eyes that flash lightning. Rain falls from its beak, and if it drops an egg at the foot of a tree, the tree will catch fire.

Besides the mythical and spiritual experience, a visit to this sacred forest offers to nature-loving friends a little more. The local vegetation and wildlife are special and unique and you may have the rare opportunity of spotting the shy and endangered Samango Monkey in this extraordinary place.

Venda Drums

Although chiefs and headmen look after most of the drum sets, girls and women do most of the playing. Drums form an important part of Venda culture, and are the subject of many legends. One of these concerns the legendary King Thohoyandou, who would beat a drum as his enemies approached. This mystical drum’s name was Ngoma Lungundo, or “drum of the dead,” because beating it would make the enemy drop dead. One night, both the king and the drum went missing from his Royal Kraal. Legend has it that he disappeared into the Soutpansberg Mountains, where Morning Sun Nature Reserve’s Mashovela Lodge is now located. Some people say you can still hear the drum beats echoing from the cliff surrounding Mashovela Pool.

Venda Dance

The Venda people express their happiness through dance, and Venda children learn to dance from a very early age. The Domba dance is the most famous of all the Venda dances. Young maidens perform the dance on the shores of Lake Fundudzi to secure good rains for the upcoming growing season. The Tshikona, or “Royal Dance” is the national dance of Venda. It is traditionally performed at weddings, funerals or other religious ceremonies.

There is so much more to see and learn about the beautiful Venda people and their fascinating beliefs and cultures. And for those moments in between, our guests revel in the exquisite nature experience that Morning Sun has to offer; from the unique beauty of the smallest butterflies to the imposing power of the majestic Kudu.

Morning Sun Nature Reserve is situated in the Soutpansberg mountains, the very heart of Venda. It’s the perfect place to bring your family for a wonderful and enriching holiday that is also fun, entertaining and highly memorable. Please contact us today for more information, or to book a holiday you and your family will never forget.