Lots to tempt you in Tzaneen

"Go to Limpopo for a few days and see what you can come back with," was the instruction from the boss.

"Go to Limpopo for a few days and see what you can come back with," was the instruction from the boss.

I didn't have the heart to tell her that normally the only thing I come back with from Limpopo is a hangover of "Big Five" proportion from spending too much time in hotel bars out of sheer boredom.

This time I was to bypass Polokwane - which always reminds me of a mini-Pretoria with its one-way streets - and head 100km east to Tzaneen.

Travelling with me was colleague Thobeka Magcai, who I suspect was instructed to make sure I did some work this time and not spend afternoons at pool bars drinking gin and tonics at the company's expense.

And work we did. In four days we managed to speak to the first woman chief in South Africa, interviewed the regent of the Modjadji tribe, shared a drink with the 2007 Female Farmer of the Year, kicked a soccer ball with a bunch of kids in the middle of nowhere, and drove more kilometres than most people will do in a month.

Setting out, neither of us realised how much there was to do in Tzaneen and its surrounds. The only problem is that distances are vast and you seem to spend more time driving to your destination than being there.

An example was getting to the largest tree in the world at Modjadjiskloof - a good three-quarters of an hour drive from Tzaneen.

The baobab tree, estimated to be 6000 years old, is so big that the owner has actually hollowed out a section of the trunk and built a bar that seats six patrons comfortably.

For the more adventurous, quad biking is also available, at R250 an hour, as is abseiling in the nearby kloof.

For those wanting a spot of game viewing, Kruger National Park is just under an hour's drive through the Phalaborwa gate.

Leave Tzaneen at 8am and you can spend a comfortable day in this world-renowned park and still be back home for dinner at a reasonable hour.

Our base during our stay in Tzaneen was the Sherwoods Guest Lodge.

Situated 13km from the CBD, Sherwoods is an old farmhouse that has been converted into a guest lodge.

It is a one-star resort, so don't expect anything too fancy. But the owners, Derrick and Daniele Wasley, made us most welcome during our short stay.

Breakfast consists of yoghurt, cereals, fresh fruit -which is in abundance in the area - and your normal range of eggs, bacon, sausage, etc. Nothing elaborate, just good, home-cooked food.

Freshly squeezed fruit juices and a large selection of jams are also on offer.

Dinner, at R150 a head, must be booked in advance.

Situated among dense bush and in the middle of an avocado plantation, Sherwoods might not be everyone's cup of tea because of its remoteness.

Thobeka, a Rosebank Mall junkie of note, was suffering withdrawal symptoms after the first day, so if glitz and glamour are your thing, you should look for something closer to town.

If it's clean air, a comfortable room that comes with a fireplace, antique furniture and the feeling of a bygone Victorian era you are after, then look it up.

Tzaneen might not have the Waterfront of Cape Town, or even the Golden Mile of Durban, but what it does have is a rich culture, friendly people and some amazing scenery just waiting to be explored.

If we visit the area again we've promised ourselves to try out some of the other activities widely available in the area - among them mountain biking, canoeing and hiking.

Oh, and perhaps a gin and tonic or two next to a hotel swimming pool as well!

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