Monday, 13 August 2012

Our Journey through Limpopo Province, South Africa, Botswana, Namibia and Zimbabwe June 2012. From Victoria Falls to Eiland Spa South Africa via Itumela Camp, Botswana.

After the rest, relaxation and indulgence of the past week, it was time to hit the road for a long drive from Victoria Falls to Tzaneen in South Africa. After much studying of maps and discussion with local experts, the decision was taken to go back via Botswana crossing at Kazungula, then into South Africa at Martins Drift. We left the hotel at dawn meeting our first road block: an enormous herd of buffalo as soon as we left the hotel grounds. The Kazungula Boarder opens at 06.00 and we arrived at 07.00. The customs officer was sleepy but efficient and the crossing took about 25 minutes. Once in Botswana the Veterinary dips started again and we were in and out of the car to dip our feet and any shoes you had in your possession. 

We stopped at Nata Lodge for breakfast and noted the large new lodge being built on the other side of the road; it was just being thatched and looked good. We arrived in Palapye by about 16.00. The town of Palapye was a lot larger than I had imagined it would be and had a large selection of hotels, lodges, B & Bs and guest houses. We followed the signs to Camp Itumela, there were a lot of signs and just as well as after crossing the railway tracks I was beginning to feel lost! Upon arrival at Camp Itumela it turned out to be a leafy oasis in the dust bowl that is Palapye. We did not have a reservation, but that was not a problem, when we arrived there was plenty of room. The camp has camping facilities and a lot of these plots were in use by ‘Overland’ companies. It also has cabin type accommodation with en suite facilities, that’s what we had. The room was basic, but warm, comfortable and clean. The shower was fantastic! The bar was good with a lively atmosphere and the food, a set meal was good. All in all it was very good value for money.

The rooms at Camp Itumela.
The Bar / eating area at camp itumele.
The next day it was another early start and we arrived at the Botswana / South Africa border crossing at Martins Drift. The service was quick and efficient on both sides of the boarder and once again we crossed the Limpopo River, this time it had water in it, back into Limpopo Province, South Africa.
Limpopo River from Botswana to South Africa

ATKV Eiland Spa From the Road. 
Driving to Polokwane, we went to the big Pick n Pay to get shopping for the next couple of nights. Then headed along the R71 to Tzaneen. We went through some beautiful scenery on this route but did not call into the town of Tzaneen its self as we were making for The Hans Merensky Nature Reserve.
When planning the route, I needed a place close to the Phalaborwa Gate of The Kruger Park for a couple of night’s relaxation. I noted The Hans Merensky Nature Reserve on the map and saw that it was listed as ‘hot springs’. I really struggled to find any further information and the Google search brought up The H M Hotel & Spa in Phalaborwa, it looked good but it was not what I had in mind. Then under the information listed about the nature reserve I saw there was a Spa there and after more searching found the ATKV Holiday Resort of Eiland Spa.
Located on the banks of The Letaba River, Eiland Spa was perfect, because of its location it is sunny and warm all year. It is a large resort with lots of different accommodation options, including camping. The accommodation is in round self catering huts. I booked a ‘RD 2’, we had a fully equipped kitchen on the veranda with a cooker and fridge, twin beds in the bedroom, with TV and AC, and a bathroom. Outside was a sitting area with table chairs and a BBQ. On the resort its self there was lots to do. There a few naturally warm mineral pools, one with a slide and a very hot indoor hydrotherapy pool, with steam room and sauna. A Mini golf course, bowling green, fishing lake, rugby pitch, tennis courts, horse riding. There is an onsite shop, and it was not overpriced but did have limited supplies, a restaurant, ice cream parlour/ fast food outlet as well as what looked like conference facilities.
The accommodation its self is basic but it was comfortable and clean. The resort did look at little run down, there were a few chipped tiles in the pool and the decor was stuck in the 1980s, but at £15.00 per person per night, it was fantastic value for money. It was a good choice for a few nights to stop and rest and do very little.

RD 2 Hut at the ATKV Eiland Spa

Hot mineral pool, Eiland Spa

At the fishing Lake?