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  • Lisa Martus


Updated: Feb 13, 2023

Limpopo is best known for those iconic scenes of a giraffe silhouetted against the sky as the sun sets in a blaze of gold over the bushveld, but Limpopo also has majestic mountains, wetlands, indigenous forests and tropical farmlands. Wherever your wanderlust takes you, the journey is much more than just reaching your destination and the most memorable moments are made by those you meet along the way. From Magoebaskloof, you can head down the pass into the lush lowveld town of Tzaneen, a sub-tropical portal which is half-way to everywhere in Limpopo and the best route to the wild north and the Kruger National Park. Go 2 Tzaneen officially launched on 9 July 2022 at Tzaneen Country Lodge as a new destination marketing brand. Business owners in the tourism space became part of this great initiative to rebuild the tourism industry in Tzaneen and surrounding areas as well as to be a catalyst for dynamic change. We thought we would provide some inspiration for you to visit Tzaneen with two of our favourites.

One of the first places you will encounter on your way in to Tzaneen on the R36, Olive Tree Coffee Shop, is a convenient and delightful place to enjoy a delicious breakfast or lunch with friends, have a relaxed, informal business meeting or stop for a coffee after school is out while the kids run around in the spacious outdoor play area. No matter the time of day, the tables are usually full, but there are enough little nooks and corners for a quiet space to work or contemplate life. This trendy coffee shop at the heart of the popular Garden Centre, has a varied breakfast and lunch menu as well as a decadent range of cakes and croissants to enjoy with your cappuccino at a quiet table indoors or on the spacious covered stoep outside. The decor is classy and the staff are attentive and friendly so whether you are enjoying their farm breakfast, ‘chicken cheesecake’, protein-bomb salad or the decadent salted-caramel cheesecake, it always feels like a holiday from real life in this verdant oasis.

It all began when Hannes and Charlene met each other at the Pretoria Technikon and they moved to his hometown of Tzaneen. It was way back in 2000, when they bought a property from the MOTH’s which was the old Water Affairs. Hannes was inspired by Oom Boet Booysen, a Palm specialist who started collecting the seed of the Cycas Revoluta and started a wholesale nursery on the property. Charlene, having learned about plants from her mother-in-law, felt they needed some colour so she started selling flowers, with handwritten labels to the public. One thing led to another and The Olive Tree Coffee Shop opened its doors on 15 July 2015, in spite of the fact that Charlene had no experience at all. The first week was overwhelming with a queue of clients all the way to the gate but luckily her daughter, Marli, had waitress experience so jumped in and saved the day. They decided that it was time to get more serious about their budding business.

The gregarious Harry Sepagane and Ruth Makwala were the first official waiters and stepped into the picture together with Chef Mumsy Mashele, and the coffee shop began to take its current form. Charlene realised that she should take on the role of visualiser and organiser, empowering experts to do what they are good at and so she developed a winning team. She has had a lifelong love for gift shops, which seeded the next development at the Olive Tree complex. In 2021 they decided to open a shop for men and Sable & Bull came into being. Her son, Theo, started spicing and drying meat for premium yellow fat biltong and they also sell spices and sauces, men’s gifts and exclusive wines. Their youngest daughter, Anja also joined the family enterprise in 2022. A bigger parking area with a car wash was the next logical step, as an easy option while visitors browse through the Garden Centre or take some time out at the Coffee Shop. Future developments could involve some small businesses curved around the dam or an exclusive place for kiddie’s birthday parties and other festive occasions but the Maree family are always dreaming so who knows what the future may hold.

Diarise a ‘Gin & Beer Trek @ The Olive Tree’ on Friday, 30 September, with live music and a ‘lekker kuier’ where guests take a walk across the farm sampling the brandy; the local Zwakala beer, Rhino Beetle Gin amongst others as the sun sets into the George’s Valley.

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