Modjadji Cycad Reserve, located in the Lobedu Mountains near Duiwelskloof in Limpopo, South Africa, is a 530 hectare nature reserve that boasts some of the oldest and largest Cycad specimens on earth. The reserve is situated next to the home of the fabled rain queen, and is a must-see destination for plant lovers and nature enthusiasts alike.
To get to the reserve, take the R36 from Tzaneen to Modjadjiskloof and then follow the signs to Modjadji village and on to the cycad reserve. The reserve is situated in the Bolobedu district of Lebowa, north-east of Duiwelskloof, and contains one of the most fascinating populations of plants seen in South Africa.
The main diet of the prehistoric mammal-like reptiles that lived here was the Modjadji cycad (Encephalartos transvenosus) which forms a unique natural forest which can be viewed in its prehistoric state thanks to its strict protection by succeeding generations of Modjadji (‘rain queens’), the hereditary rulers in the area. The lands of the Modjadji tribe, a matriarchal society that has produced five rain queens (only women are allowed to enter the village), surround the reserve, with traditional vernacular, architecture and culture.
It is here in the Modjadji Nature Reserve that visitors can view the largest concentration of a single cycad species in the world. These protected plant species not only grow in profusion in the area, but are giants in the genus of 29 species, with specimens up 1,013 metres high, and bearing cones that may weigh up to 34 kilograms.
December to February sees many of these strange plants in seed. The setting is superb. When mist does not obscure the view, the visitor gazes over the cycad forest to the Lowveld and the Kruger National Park.
Approximately 12 km of well constructed walks drop from the cycad forest to the acacia and grassveld below where large game such as blue wildebeest, waterbuck, nyala, impala and bushbuck, and over 170 species of birds live. This makes it a great destination for bird watching and game viewing.
Popular activities and tourist destinations in the area
Magoebaskloof Canopy Tour
Another popular attraction near the Modjadji Cycad Reserve is the Magoebaskloof Canopy Tour. Located between Tzaneen and Polokwane, Magoebaskloof is an area of natural beauty and rich history, with relics and fossils dating back to prehistoric times. The area is known for its dense vegetation and its location that was once completely inaccessible by human beings.
The Magoebaskloof Canopy Tour is an exciting way to explore this beautiful and untouched area. The tour takes you on a journey through dense, verdant greenery, misty waterfalls, and peaceful forests that are home to a huge variety of animal species. Suspended metres above the ground from comfortable, safe harnesses, you are able to glide above the beauty, seeing it from a new perspective that allows increased visibility and scope.
Throughout the tour, the guide will point out plants, birds and other interesting sights, so you get the opportunity to see as much as possible. The tour includes slides that overlook the stunning Groot Letaba River and the Letaba River Gorge, one of the most breath-taking waterfall gorges in the country. The entire tour takes about 2.5 hours and includes a lunch, some refreshments, a guide, and transport.
The Magoebaskloof Canopy Tour is an exciting and unique way to explore the natural beauty of the Limpopo Province and experience the thrill of gliding above the forest canopy. It’s a great addition to your visit to the Modjadji Cycad Reserve, and a must-do activity for adventure seekers.
Another must-visit destination in and around the Modjadji Cycad Reserve is Mosaic at Alon Farm, an elegant and contemporary restaurant that serves delicious fusion cuisine. It is located in the mountainside splendor of Alon Farm and is by appointment only. The restaurant uses organically grown vegetables and herbs and features slow cooking methods and delicate reduction sauces, making it a taste sensation.
The restaurant’s menu features legendary lamb shanks, prawn tempura, warm squid salad, biltong soup, curries, and fillets, all of which are sure to delight your taste buds. The interior of the restaurant is light and airy, and features mosaics throughout, with incredibly beautiful sand-glass chandeliers overhead. The service is both slick and mature, with waitrons from the local community giving it that extra level of quality.
Mosaic at Alon Farm is a perfect spot for sundowners on the deck and sitting back, relaxing and enjoying some of the “best forest views in our country.” It’s an ideal location for a romantic dinner or a special occasion, and a must-visit destination for foodies visiting the Modjadji Cycad Reserve.
In conclusion, the Modjadji Cycad Reserve is a unique and fascinating destination that offers visitors the opportunity to see some of the oldest and largest cycad specimens on earth, in addition to the traditional culture and natural beauty of the surrounding area. It’s a must-see destination for any nature lover visiting South Africa.