Last week I had the exciting opportunity to travel outside of the Western Cape to work on a collaboration beer with a brewery in Limpopo, a province in northern South Africa. My coworkers and I took a two hour flight to Johannesburg, followed by a five hour drive to Haenertsburg, a small mountain town of about 200 people situated between Polokwane and Tzaneen.
We stayed in a cabin on a beautiful farm on the mountain called Zwakala River Retreat. The house was heated by a fire place (which would’ve been more pleasant had we been able to start a fire) and the water was heated by a fire pit outside. Each morning we woke up to a mountain sunrise and the sounds of sheep heading to the river. Horses and dogs roamed freely around the farm and various trails led to rivers, pine tree fields, and stunning mountain scenery.
My coworkers and I were there to brew a lemongrass white IPA at Zwakala Brewery, the only brewery in Limpopo, and to celebrate the brewery’s one year anniversary at a huge party they threw on the mountain. The trip was an amazing experience and an awesome opportunity to see a side of South Africa that was completely different than Cape Town. The long drive through Limpopo led us through grassy plains and miles of mountains. Once we arrived in Haenertsburg I was surprised by how lush and green the mountains were, not at all like the Africa depicted by western media.
My week spent in Limpopo was filled with campfires, braais, amazing South African food, sun bathing by the river, and long drives down dirt paths. Here are a few of the highlights from my trip:
- I drove a four wheeler for the first time, and got to do it speeding over a dirt mountain road.
- I explored the city of Tzaneen, where the streets are lined with thousands of banana trees and fruit stands.
- I went on a spectacular zip lining canopy tour over the Letaba River Gorge, where I also met some really cool people that taught me how to speak a few words in Zulu and Afrikaans.
- I played “sheep shit bingo” at the brewery’s birthday party. A sheep is placed in a pen with 100 marked squares drawn on the ground. The object of the game is to bet on which square the sheep will shit in. The winner won lots of free beer.
- I had the most delicious fresh avocados and grapefruits that I’ve ever tasted from Tzaneen.
- I spent four days straight drinking delicious beer and partying (and working just a little) with amazing people on a beautiful mountain in the middle of Africa.