At the foot of the northern tip of the Drakensberg range of mountains about 58 kilometres from Polokwane lies a particularly beautiful part of the world. The landscape is dominated by dramatic scenery and afromontane forests that rank as some of the most extensive in South Africa.
Misty mornings, bird calls and mountain peaks combine with striking gardens throughout the district that imbue spring with the scent and colour of azaleas, orchids, citrus, cherry trees, and jacarandas.
Some of the most lovely tea plantations lie in this part of the world and partaking of the local tropical fruits like mangoes, bananas and avocado pears, is mandatory. Sapekoe’s Middelkop Tea Estate is right next to the R71 about 7 km from Tzaneen and is easily accessible.
This is hiking country and Magoebaskloof hiking trail through extensive indigenous forest, sparkling mountain streams and pine plantations is a 50 kilometre circular trail over three days. One can choose from several hike duration options that range from two to five days. The trail takes in some awe-inspiring scenery and some things extraordinary, such as ‘huilklip’, a natural rock that sounds like a gong when it is struck with a stone, samango monkeys, bushbuck, bush pigs and an extensive number of birds, particularly in the Grootbosch forest.
Two areas of forest in the Magoebaskloof area that hold some incredible birding opportunities are the enormous Woodbush, one of the best places in the country to see the black-front bush shrike and the small Swartbos forests.
During spring, there is a wonderful festival with an arts and crafts market worthy of a visit.
The R71 is 213 kilometers (132 miles) long.