A chance to wash away your bad luck at the Mkhulu hot spring in Giyani

6:10 pm

I'm quiet fluent in all South African languages except Tsonga. And the worst thing about this is that one of my best friends is Tsonga but she's such a terrible friend that she hasn't taught me the language. 

Then I had to visit Giyani at the African Ivory Route Bileni Camp for a few days. On this morning, we only had one activity on the itinerary and that was to visit the Mkhulu Hotspring. The hot spring water is 42°C at source and has been recorded over a few decades at this temparature. 

The owner and custodian of the hot spring in Nzunzu. Nzunzu is a snake, and is believed to have horns and hair. And because I hate snakes the moment I was told this, I had no desire to visit the hot spring.

There are a few rules to follow when you visit the spring. In no order of importance :
1. You must not have had sex in the past 2 days when you visit the hot spring. 
2. You cannot walk into the spring in a single file, you have to walk imitating movements of a snake (this is to show respect to Nzunzu).
3. You cannot swim in the hotspring. 
4. You cannot enter if you have an ancestral calling (to be a traditional healer).

The hot spring is in the middle of a small pond. The pond might be filthy dirty but the spring water will always be crystal clear. The pond is protected by tall green reeds. 
Everything has its own name around and cannot be called by the everyday name we are used to. 
i.e: Birds are called chickens 
Wind - Guests 
Snake - Sticks 
Clouds - blankets 
Trees - Umbrellas 
Water - Lotion 

You can't swim in the spring as you are not allowed to buy you can bath while standing on the outside. The bath is said to take away bad luck. The area is always surrounded by grazing livestock from the local villages, the livestock does not get too close to the hot spring as they could drown. At this point of the year with the drought, unfortunately there are almost no reeds left. The worst state the villagers gave ever seen Kamkhulu looking. 

Snakes really freak me out and I don't want to deal with anything that is associated with them. The moment I heard that Nzunzu was a snake, I had no desire to get into the reed bush to see the hot spring and once we were in there I couldn't get out soon enough. So I couldn't even touch the water, I just wanted to get in, get the pictures I could capture and get out. Although I was also not brave enough to walk about 7 metres back to the car alone. 
And also after hearing that those who actually saw Nzunzu somehow get traumatised, I was not ready to have a sighting of Nzunzu. 

One good thing though, I realized my Tsonga wasn't bad. Since I finally got to speak it with Tsonga speakers I was able to be a bit more comfortable with it. Only for those 2 days. I'm back to my life with no Tsonga speakers except for this friend who doesn't count. 

But I need you guys to go and visit Kamkhulu hot spring. So that you can come back and tell me what it's like to visit this sacred hot spring without your experience being clouded by your fear of snakes. And no, I have no intention of getting help to deal with my unreasonable fear. Thanks.

Should you be keen to go, because it is a protected ancestral place I suggest you go with a guide. The Bike bi Camp would be able to assist and Thinashaka Tshivhase will be your guide and also take you down to the salt making ladies (salt making post coming soon).


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