Two Tourist Routes Launched at Historical Trade Route in Park



By Charl Pauw


'It is perhaps fitting that Masorini was chosen as the launch venue for a tourism initiative that makes use of various tourism opportunities found in Limpopo Province, the KNP and Mozambique.'

These were the words of Ben van Eeden, regional manager of the Nxanatseni region of the KNP, as he welcomed delegates to the launch of two new tourism routes in the far north-eastern parts of the country – one spanning across the borders of South Africa and Mozambique.

The launch took place at the Masorini archaeological site situated in the Kruger National Park (KNP), near the Phalaborwa entrance gate, on Friday October 26, 2007.

Masorini is home to the Ba-Phalaborwa people who, in the 1800s, traded with Venda people in the north and Portuguese colonialists in Mozambique.

Ozaria Grachane, director of tourism for the Gaza province in Mozambique and her South African counterpart, MEC for economic development, environment and tourism in Limpopo, Collins Chabane, both highlighted the progress achieved with tourism cooperation across the African continent.

Open Africa's "Rixile Bush to Beach Route" links up the wonder of the African game parks in the lowveld of the Limpopo Province, with palm-fringed beaches and corals reefs teaming with marine life on the Mozambique coast.

The new travellers' route makes it perfectly possible to view a huge elephant bull grazing on a river flood plan in the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park (GLTP) on one day, and within the next day to set off through the pounding Indian Ocean surf on a boat safari to skin dive with whale sharks on the coral reefs off the Mozambique coast.

The facilitator for the establishment of the Bush to Beach Route is the Open Africa Initiative, a non-government organisation, which has initiated an extensive series of travellers' routes in six African countries. The Rixile Bush to Beach Route is now part of Open Africa's network of 66 other travellers' routes in Southern Africa. It's the second Open Africa route initiated in Mozambique. 

'The new route is one of Open Africa's most exciting projects,' says operations manager of Open Africa, Francois Viljoen. 'The concept brings together the two great wonders of the African continent. The African bushveld with its wealth of animals is linked up with an unspoilt coastline fringed with palm trees and coral reefs.'

He says the key to the unlocking of this potential has been the establishment of the GLTP, and particularly the opening up of a new tourist-friendly border crossing at Giriyondo, which links the KNP and Mozambique's protected areas along the Limpopo River, offering travellers an exciting alternative routing to Mozambique.

Francois says the ultimate aim of the new Rixile Bush to Beach route is to increase benefits to communities in and around the parks. He believes an increase in the number of visitors will undoubtedly have a beneficial spin-off for local communities. It also dovetails with the social responsibility commitments of the big corporations.

Sponsorship for the establishment of the route has come from various sources including generous support from the European Union, the department of local government and housing of the Limpopo provincial government, the First Rand Foundation, and the Palabora Foundation through the Rio Tinto Group.

The Rixile Bush to Beach Route starts By Charl Pauw "It is perhaps fitting that Masorini was chosen as the launch venue for a tourism initiative that makes use of various tourism opportunities found in Limpopo Province, the KNP and Mozambique."

These were the words of Ben van Eeden, regional manager of the Nxanatseni region of the KNP, as he welcomed delegates to the launch of two new tourism routes in the far north-eastern parts of the country – one spanning across the borders of South Africa and Mozambique.

The launch took place at the Masorini archaeological site situated in the Kruger National Park (KNP), near the Phalaborwa entrance gate, on Friday October 26, 2007. Masorini is home to the Ba-Phalaborwa people who, in the 1800s, traded with Venda people in the north and Portuguese colonialists in Mozambique.

Ozaria Grachane, director of tourism for the Gaza province in Mozambique and her South African counterpart, MEC for economic development, environment and tourism in Limpopo, Collins Chabane, both highlighted the progress achieved with tourism cooperation across the African continent.

Open Africa's "Rixile Bush to Beach Route" links up the wonder of the African game parks in the lowveld of the Limpopo Province, with palm-fringed beaches and corals reefs teaming with marine life on the Mozambique coast.

The new travellers' route makes it perfectly possible to view a huge elephant bull grazing on a river flood plan in the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park (GLTP) on one day, and within the next day to set off through the pounding Indian Ocean surf on a boat safari to skin dive with whale sharks on the coral reefs off the Mozambique coast.

The facilitator for the establishment of the Bush to Beach Route is the Open Africa Initiative, a non-government organisation, which has initiated an extensive series of travellers' routes in six African countries. The Rixile Bush to Beach Route is now part of Open Africa's network of 66 other travellers' routes in Southern Africa. It's the second Open Africa route initiated in Mozambique.

'The new route is one of Open Africa's most exciting projects,' says operations manager of Open Africa, Francois Viljoen. 'The concept brings together the two great wonders of the African continent. The African bushveld with its wealth of animals is linked up with an unspoilt coastline fringed with palm trees and coral reefs.'

He says the key to the unlocking of this potential has been the establishment of the GLTP, and particularly the opening up of a new tourist-friendly border crossing at Giriyondo, which links the KNP and Mozambique's protected areas along the Limpopo River, offering travellers an exciting alternative routing to Mozambique.

Francois says the ultimate aim of the new Rixile Bush to Beach route is to increase benefits to communities in and around the parks. He believes an increase in the number of visitors will undoubtedly have a beneficial spin-off for local communities. It also dovetails with the social responsibility commitments of the big corporations.

Sponsorship for the establishment of the route has come from various sources including generous support from the European Union, the department of local government and housing of the Limpopo provincial government, the First Rand Foundation, and the Palabora Foundation through the Rio Tinto Group.

The Rixile Bush to Beach Route starts at the lowveld town, Phalaborwa, with its well-developed tourist infrastructure. It is the only town with a direct access gate to the Kruger National Park.

Some 80-thousand visitors and 55-thousand vehicles a year already use this access gate to the park. From Phalaborwa the new route transects the GLTP, with a border crossing at the new Giriyondo gate.

From there it leads to the Mozambican towns of Massingir, Chokwe, and Bilene on the coast. It next links up facilities for visitors in the provinces of Gaza and Inhambane with participants in the coastal towns of Xai-Xai, Chidenguele, Inhambane, and Vilanculos.

The Rixile Bush to Beach Route has 67 participants, who offer a wide range of facilities ranging from an up-market golf estate, which is one of the few in the world where wild animals roam the fairways, to rustic community campsites.

The majority of the facilities are clustered around Phalaborwa, with some 40 participants listed on the Open Africa website. On the Mozambique side of the border, 27 participants have listed their facilities, but involvement from Mozambique is expected to increase over time as the route becomes better known.

The Kruger To Canyons Route

At the same event, Jolene Groenewald of Open Africa launched the Kruger to Canyons (K2C) Route, situated in the north-eastern corner of South Africa, of the Limpopo province, but extending into Mpumalanga.

This route stretches from Phalaborwa, through Hoedspruit and connects with Graskop via several roads. The K2C covers a large area and as the name implies, offers a journey from the KNP, past the Olifants River to the magnificence of the Blyde River Canyon, the world's third deepest canyon.

'Between these main features many natural and cultural treasures are to be found, as well as a range of indoor and outdoor activities. To present accessible clusters of these treasures, making it easier for visitors to explore and plan, the larger route is broken up into smaller sub-routes or themes. Each sub-route has a town or an area attached to it and these are all within comfortable driving distance from each other,' she says.

'The sub-routes consist of Phalaborwa at the northern point, which is part of the Rixile brand of routes; Hoedspruit and surrounds – which is located in the centre of the Kruger to Canyons Route and therefore aptly referred to as the ‘Heart of the Kruger to Canyons'; and Graskop, the Panorama theme of the route.

Here the R532 stretches past the viewpoints of the Canyon, and the existing Panorama Route whilst the R40 forms the other leg that stretches past nature reserves and vibrant villages and towns to Bushbuckridge, offering a cultural theme to the Kruger to Canyons, called the ‘Vuyani Kaya' Route." Jolene says the K2C's richness in diversity of landscape extends to its diversity in activities.

While Kruger speaks for itself, offering amazing game viewing and outdoor experiences, the richness in wildlife can also be explored in different settings like private reserves and game lodges.

The experience continues with outdoor trails and varied adventure activities, like rock climbing, white water rafting and even hot air ballooning. The whole area is also rich with bird life. Accommodation ranges from luxurious lodges and safari camps to bed and breakfasts and backpackers accommodation.



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