Modjadiskloof, previously known as Duiwelskloof, lies just north of Tzaneen, on the edge of the Limpopo Drakensberg escarpment. The name Modjadiskloof refers to both the small town and the thickly forested valley.
The areas most popular tourist attraction is its Nature Reserve, which protects the only naturally occurring Cycad Forest in the world. Some of the oldest and largest cycad specimens in the world form part of this unique and natural forest! The Reserve is also the location of the Royal Kraal of the Lobedu (or Balobedu) tribe, who live in 150 small individual villages in the area - traditionally under the leadership of the Rain Queen or Modjaji.
The valley, ruins of an old Rain Queen Compound and the culture of the Balobedu is said to have been the inspiration for King Solomon’s Mines.
Modjadiskloof is a gateway to some worthwhile stops – depending on where you're coming from, you're well placed to go from here to Kruger National Park, the Venda region and the charms of the Letaba Valley. Closer to home though are the remains of a majestic old baobab tree, a massive tree that has been carbon dated at 6000 years old.
Accommodation options in Tzaneen, approximately a 30 minute drive from Madjadiskloof, include B&B’s, Guesthouses and self-catering lodges.
Things to do and see
- Sunland Big Baobab Tree
- Modjadji Nature & Cycad Reserve
- Woodbush Forest Reserve
- Modjadji Hiking & Biking Trails
- Tzaneen Museum, 32 km
Modjadjiskloof receives approximately 748 mm of rain annually with most of its annual rainfall during summer.
Summer months, November to March will have average temperatures of between 17˚C and 28˚C.
Winter months, May to August will have average temperatures of between 10˚C and 23˚C.
There are daily flights into Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport outside Nelspruit, approximately 295 Km’s away along the R40 and into O R Tambo in Johannesburg, approximately 403 Km’s away via the N1. Car hire facilities are available at the Airport.
After the Anglo-Boer War the number of white people in the northern Transvaal had increased slightly and by 1910 there were approximately 140 white farming families. Most of the people in the Lowveld, lived around the farms of Schraalhans and Duiwelskloof.
Duiwelskloof (Devil's Gorge) was named so by European settlers after the devilish time they had getting their caravans up and down the surrounding hills.
In 1912 the long awaited railway line from Komatipoort reached the Letaba River and was named Tzaneen. Then the railway line continued to a station that was named Modjadji in 1914. The town of Duiwelskloof was proclaimed in 1919 and in that year, 20-roomed Duiwelskloof Hotel, later named Imp Inn, was built.
The town was renamed Modjadjiskloof in 2004, in tribute to the Rain Queen, Modjadji - the traditional mystic ruler of the Balobedu people who live in this beautiful, heavily wooded part of the country, where tranquil forest drives consistently hint at the mysticism that surrounds the legendary Rain Queen.
The hereditary queen of the Balobedu, Modjadji or Rain Queen, has special powers bestowed on her that grant her the ability to control clouds and rainfall. The succession is matrilineal, and the Queen's eldest daughter automatically steps in to take on the mantle. The Balobedu are without a reigning queen at present as the former queen Makobo Modjadji VI died at only 27 years of age, in 2005, leaving no heir to the throne.
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