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Thathe Vondo is arguably the most beautiful of the Limpopo Province forests. Set in the eastern Soutpansberg, Thathe Vondo offers a lovely mixture of Afromontane forests and grasslands. Thathe Vondo is somewhat more tropical than Entabeni (only a short distance to the southwest) and mosses, ferns, orchids and Streptocarpus’ abound.

The forest known as" The Holy forest" represents the ancient burial grounds for the local chiefs and visitors are not allowed off of the road when in the immediate area of the graves. The Holy Forest is said to be protected by the half-man, half-lion, Nethane. The mystical Lake Funduzi is also situated within the Thathe Vondo complex and is shrouded in ancient Venda folk-lore. The lake is said to be the home of the Python God and the mysterious Dituwane.

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Facilities

Accessible to sedan vehicles, hiking trails and over-night huts.

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Birding

Thathe Vondo offers all of the forest birds typical of the region including the Orange Ground-Thrush, Chorister Robin-Chat, Yellow-streaked Greenbul, Square-tailed Drongo and Green Twinspot. The Narina Trogon is fairly common in the summer months. Additionally, a wealth of birds associated with short grasslands (especially the pipits) are to be found in the area. Grey-headed Parrot may be seen feeding in the surrounding bushveld and savannas during the summer months.

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General

The plantation access roads are generally well maintained and the forest is usually accessible to sedan vehicles. The roads are, however, very slippery during and immediately after rain (especially during timber harvesting).

Thathe Vondo forest complex is in the eastern Soutpansberg, near Sibasa and Thohoyanndou. Travel on the N1 (north-bound) out of Louis Trichardt (towards Messina) for about 6km, winding up the Soutpansberg mountains. To the right is a major road labeled: ‘Witvlag’. Take this road and follow it to its very end, passing various sawmills and Piesanghoek. At the T-junction, take a right towards Sibasa. After many kilometres, the road starts to wind up a pass. Thathe Vondo is at the top of the pass.

Permission to enter Thathe Vondo must be obtained from the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry (Sarah Venter Tel 015 516 0201) or the SAFCOL forester at Thathe Vondo (a guard in the area will be able to give directions to the office).

Dale Forbes 2002.



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