Tzaneen's a cool place to visit in your twenties
A famous travel guide wants the world's young adventurers to head to Tzaneen. Bridget Hilton-Barber knows why. "Tzaneen hits world tourism headlines," said the front page of a local newspaper in January this year. The subtropical farming town was atwitter as the news broke that Tzaneen had been given a glowing mention by the Rough Guide 2015 in an online compilation of their best places to travel this year.The Rough Guide is aimed mainly at millennials, and Limpopo's second-biggest town came in at number 27 in an online list of 50 Unpredictable and Non Clichéd Places to Travel in your 20s - even though the list said they were "in no particular order".story_article_left1"There's no better time to travel to these places than when you're in your 20s," they said. "As we get older, the comfort and ease of guided tours becomes increasingly appealing, so explore the world now while you still have the energy. The world's greatest cities aren't going anywhere; you have your entire life to visit them. Why not go to places where you can be your own tourist?" As part of their "least predictable places you should go in your 20s", Tzaneen is ranked alongside offbeat places such as the Isle of Skye in Scotland; New Orleans in the US; Mestia in Georgia; Corsica in France; and Ulaan Batar in Mongolia. All it says of the town is this: "Tzaneen is a tropical town located in the north of South Africa. It's beautiful and full of natural attractions, including a monkey sanctuary."The monkey sanctuary mentioned in the Rough Guide is presumably the Riverside Rehabilitation Centre near Letsitele, about 20km from Tzaneen, which runs a popular volunteer programme for mainly foreign visitors wanting a primate encounter and a good time. Established in 2002, the centre offers gap-year programmes for people who help look after mainly monkeys and baboons and also other creatures such as jackals and lynxes that are considered vermin by farmers.But whatever your views on saving monkeys, and whatever your age, the Rough Guide is certainly right about Tzaneen being scenery central. This area is seriously gorgeous. There are dams, lakes, rivers, waterfalls, indigenous forests; there are plantations, farmlands, orchards and vast, gorgeous stretches of African bushveld.mini_story_image_hright1Tzaneen town itself is not particularly pretty, but it's a gateway spot, a place to fill up and stock up. There's a Woollies, a Food Lovers Market and a new Lifestyle Centre, but the action is pretty much out of town. Here's some of what's on offer:• Haenertsburg village: The eccentric heart of the Magoebaskloof mountains, this hamlet has a lovely bookshop, a couple of bistros and fabulous mountain scenery. Nearby are Ebenezer Dam, Mina's (an eco-retreat and foodie and music venue) and the famous Cheerio Gardens, which turn pink and peachy in spring blossoms. For the millennials, the Magoebaskloof Canopy Tour is a must.• Sunland Baobab & Modjadji Cycads: Combine seeing the country's biggest and oldest baobab (it is 22m high, 47m in circumference and 4 000 years old) with a visit to some cycads that date back to the time of the dinosaurs. The Modjadji Cycad Reserve, is home to the world's biggest concentration of the rare endemic cycad known as Modjajdi's palm ( Encephalartos transvenosus ). You can also take a guided tour of the village of Modjadji, which was settled in the 16th century by the original Rain Queen Modjadji.• The Wolkberg Wilderness Area: This 22 000ha reserve is a playground for all types of adventurers. You can take a good, hard hike through steep gorges and ancient cliffs or spend a gentle day picnicking and ambling alongside a cool river.For more information about Tzaneen and Magoebaskloof, see golimpopo.com, tzaneeninfo.co.za and magoebasklooftourism.co.za.