Capricorn is a gateway region with a distinctly African heartbeat. The region includes farmlands, highveld wilderness and mountains. It borders Botswana and leads to the Lowveld and the world-famous Kruger National Park. Capricorn is centred on Limpopo’s capital city of Polokwane, named after the tropic of Capricorn which passes through the province. Just north of Polokwane, a giant rock spray-painted with colourful, cheerful graffiti marks the imaginary spot.
The urban hub of Capricorn, Polokwane is friendly and growing fast. Home to the provincial legislature and a dynamic business sector, the city is a peaceful mixture of people and cultures. In Sapedi, Polokwane means ‘place of peace’.
Capricorn is a lively combo of urban and rural, cultural and natural attractions. Polokwane is busy and vibey, with a diversity of hotels, interesting restaurants, museums and galleries. Yet right on the city’s doorstep is a variety of scenic mountains and wilderness areas. After fine dining, good retail therapy and excellent museums and galleries, head for the hills on a canopy tour. You could also take a mountain hike or drive to the Kruger and its wide open, Big 5-inhabited spaces.
Polokwane has blossomed on the back of being a FIFA 2010 World CupTM host city. The atmosphere in the city is upbeat. The Peter Mokaba Stadium stands proud on the outskirts of the city. The new Mall of the North, the province’s biggest property development to date, has already become an icon for Capricorn’s growth. It’s big. Set on a massive 27ha site, near the N1 Polokwane byway, the Mall of the North covers 75 000 square metres, has over 180 shops and parking for 45 000 cars.
Capricorn has some of the biggest citrus farms in the southern hemisphere, centred on Zebediela, Dendron and Marble Hall. Zebediela Citrus Estate lies southeast of Mokopane and is one of the largest citrus farms in the southern hemisphere. Mokopane is the second-biggest town in Capricorn; a multicultural centre for surrounding wheat, tobacco, cotton, beef, maize, peanut and citrus farms. It's also home to Makapan's Valley, a fascinating national heritage site and sister site to the Cradle of Humankind at Sterkfontein in Gauteng/North West.
Adventure lies in all directions from Capricorn. To the east is the Mopani region, realm of the legendary Rain Queen, rare cycads and the country’s biggest baobab. The Magoebaskloof and Wolkberg Wilderness areas are famed for walking, birding and adventure spots. North of Polokwane is the Vhembe region, Louis Trichardt and the Soutpansberg mountains. To the south are the Waterberg mountains and wilderness areas.
When to go
Arts & culture in Polokwane - Polokwane has a lively and bustling downtown area, set around the pleasantly green and artistic civic centre. Here one can visit the Polokwane Art Museum which has an excellent collection of South African art. Or wander through the Hugh Exton Photographic Museum which records the early life of the city in over 2 000 black and white images. You could check out Irish House, a bright green building with a comprehensive collection of exhibits from prehistory to Victorian and modern times. North of the city is Bakone Malapa Northern Sotho Museum - an open air ‘living’ museum that showcases traditional northern Sotho culture.
Makapan’s Valley National Heritage Site - On the outskirts of Mokopane you’ll find Makapan's Valley, a significant palaeontological and historical site. In 1936, Professor Raymond Dart discovered an Australopithecus fossil that indicated the presence of hominids here some 3,5 million years ago. The valley is rich in fossils and bones that tell tales of the escapades of our hairier, hominid ancestors. Makapan’s Valley is the sister site to the Cradle of Humankind at Sterkfontein. It is also the site of a vicious battle between indigenous people and the Afrikaner Voortrekkers. Guided visits to the area can be arranged through the Arend Dieperink Museum in Mokopane. The museum is worth a visit for its exhibits detailing the pre-colonial and colonial histories of the area.
Capricorn Letaba Birding Route - The extreme variation of habitat along this route means there are over 500 recorded species of birds. The route stretches from Polokwane to the Great Letaba River beyond Tzaneen in the east. It runs just south of the tropic of Capricorn, linking the towns of Polokwane, Haenertsburg, Tzaneen and Gravelotte.
Polokwane Game Reserve - This well-established and much loved reserve is a short drive from the city centre and home to a variety of wildlife - including antelope, rhino and tsessebe. The reserve offers assorted adventures ranging from horseback safaris and personalised bush outings to game drives followed by a champagne breakfast or a candlelit dinner.
Meropa Casino & Entertainment World - Set on the outskirts of Polokwane, Meropa is the capital city’s pleasure dome. Rising up like an ancient African palace under modern skies, Meropa has a relatively small, but very enjoyable casino. There are plenty of coffee shops, restaurants and nightclubs. Wild World, a multi-species enclosure, contains a bird and reptile park as well as a butterfly park and an insectarium. Meropa has long been the place to see and be seen among Polokwane’s hip and happening people. Meropa’s Jembe Tavern is an Afro-chic jazz club and the capital city’s grooviest place to meet, greet and get on down all night long.
Extreme adventures - North-east of Polokwane is the Magoebaskloof mountain area. Here you can go tubing and river rafting, spelunking and kloofing. or you can take a canopy tour. Expect awesome mountain scenery and pumping adrenaline.
Mall of the North - The recently opened Mall of the North is the province’s biggest shopping complex. The 75 000m² mall’s anchor tenants include national supermarkets, leading brand chain stores as well as a state-of-the-art theatre complex. The complex has six cinemas, all with digital sound. Three of them offer 3D viewing, a first for the province. The complex can seat almost a thousand people.