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For the administrative district, see Zoutpansberg.
Vivo Limpopo SouthAfrica June2009.jpg
The western extremity of the Soutpansberg as seen from Vivo
Highest point
Peak Lajuma
Elevation 1,747 m (5,732 ft)
Coordinates 23°0′0″S 29°52′0″E / 23.00000°S 29.86667°E / -23.00000; 29.86667Coordinates: 23°0′0″S 29°52′0″E / 23.00000°S 29.86667°E / -23.00000; 29.86667
Length 170 km (110 mi) E/W
Width 50 km (31 mi) N/S
Native name Tha vhani ya muno
Soutpansberg is located in South Africa
Country South Africa
Province Limpopo
Orogeny Kaapvaal craton
Period Neoarchean to early Paleoproterozoic
Type of rock Bushveld igneous complex, sandstone

The Soutpansberg, (formerly Zoutpansberg) meaning "Salt Pan Mountain" in Afrikaans, is a range of mountains in far northern South Africa. It is located in Vhembe District, Limpopo. It is named for the salt pan (Venda: Letshoyang, or "place of salt")[1] located at its western end. The mountain range reaches the opposite extremity[2] in the Matikwa Nature Reserve, some 107 kilometres (66 mi) due east.

The Soutpansberg is part of the 'Vhembe Biosphere Reserve', named a biosphere reserve by UNESCO since 2009.[3] The reserve includes also the Blouberg Range, the Kruger National Park, the Makgabeng Plateau, the Makuleke Wetlands and the Mapungubwe Cultural Landscape.[4]


The mountain is intersected by two defiles, the Waterpoort in the west, containing the Sand River (Polokwane) and a railway line, and Wyllie's Poort, which allows N1 road traffic to pass from Louis Trichardt to Musina. Lajuma is the highest peak at 1,747 metres (5,732 ft). The Nzhelele River and its tributary the Mutamba, the Nwanedi River and its tributary the Luphephe River, as well as the Levubu River and its main tributaries, the Mutshindudi and Mutale Rivers, and the Letaba River rise in the slopes of the Soutpansberg Mountains. The Brak River, a tributary of the Sand River, flows diagonally at the western end of the Soutpansberg, separating it from the Blouberg further west.[5]


First Europeans[edit]

The first white person to reach, and name, the mountain was Coenraad de Buys, a colonist who fled from Graaff Reinet after a failed rebellion in 1795. He settled near the mountain in 1820 and was the patriarch of a half-caste clan, the "Buysvolk" or Buys People, who are still to be found at Buysdorp. De Buys was followed by voortrekker Louis Tregardt who sojourned at the salt pan from May to August 1836. In November 1836 Tregardt moved camp to the vicinity of the later Schoemansdal and Louis Trichardt town, where he stayed until June 1837. From June to August 1837 Tregardt's party camped at the Doorn River, on the current Doorn River farm, whereafter they departed for good to find a trading route to the sea.

Venda hunters supplied the Voortrekkers with ivory, and were in return supplied with fire arms. Relations between the Voortrekkers and Venda soured due to taxation, cattle rustling and lax control over the supply of fire arms.[6] Total discord broke out in 1866, when the voortrekkers intervened in a Venda succession dispute, and one claimant, Makhado, attacked an outlying voortrekker settlement.[7] Despite the arrival of a relief commando, the Venda's mountain strongholds could not be taken. The voortrekkers abandoned the town on 15 July 1867[6] and established Pietersburg. An open-air museum was established to recreate the modest settlement.

Early settlement[edit]

Hanglip promontory, overlooking Louis Trichardt

Eleven years later, in 1848,[7] a settlement named Zoutpansbergdorp was established at the site of an earlier Tregardt camp. It was founded by Jan Valentyn Botha,[6] who led a faction of Andries Potgieter's trek. Potgieter died at Zoutpansbergdorp in 1852, and his son shortly afterwards. In 1855 the town's de facto leader was Stephanus Schoeman[6] who named the growing, though disorderly reed-hut settlement Schoemansdal, after himself. Augmented by renegades, the town was a successful ivory trading centre by 1855, when its population numbered 200.

First town[edit]

In October 1898 the Boere returned to regain control over the territory. General Piet Joubert's commando occupied a strategic position over the Doorn River in preparation. In November, Mphefu's kraal suffered a three-pronged attack and his royal village was torched. Mphefu's clan fled across the Limpopo River to Zimbabwe. The farms Rietvlei and Bergvliet were set aside in 1898 for a new town, and Trichardtsdorp was proclaimed the next year, named in honour of Louis Tregardt. Today the town commemorates his full name, Louis Trichardt.


The Soutpansberg is known for a high level of endemism of its invertebrate fauna.[8][9] The Soutpansberg Rock Lizard and the Soutpansberg Flat Lizard are named after this range.

See also[edit]


External links[edit]