The Soutpansberg Mountains (Afrikaans for Salt Pan Mountains) are dramatic outcrops of pink quartzite rock which rise over 1700m extending from the town of Vivo in the west to Punda Maria in the Kruger National Park in the east. Moist sea air from the Indian Ocean precipitates on the southern slopes and, due to the terrain, varied microclimates range from verdent areas with over 2,000mm rainfall to semi-desert. In turn this has encouraged high species diversity and endemicity and the Soutpansberg is proposed to become part of the Vhembe UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. This is no ‘Big Five’ experience (although rhino and leopard are present) – it is an area to enjoy scenic hiking through rocky gorges and forests with giant cabbage trees, proteas, yellowwood trees, forest fever trees, ancient tree ferns. It is also a fascinating area for the indigenous culture with rich archaeology, diverse rock art and also for the important history of European settlement in the region. Horse riding for experienced riders is also possible.
Highlights of South Africa