See Also: KwaZulu Natal | Western Cape | Gauteng | Mpumalanga | Eastern Cape | Northern Province

Known as the “Heritage Province”, the North West is a rewarding holiday destination that offers exciting wildlife and adventure encounters as well as the opportunity to participate in a rich cultural and historical heritage.

Home to the fantastic Pilanesberg and Madikwe game reserves, North West has the big five, fantastic bird-life and wide-open African skies. The area boasts archaeological discoveries that go back to the beginnings of humankind, as well as the world-famous Sun City hotel complex, creatively dedicated to ancient lost civilizations and modern-day pleasures.

This is also the land of the author Herman Charles Bosman and his tales of Oom Schalk and the Groot Marico where mampoer (a very potent home-distilled peach brandy) and local legend were born and where time stands still. This is where the Bakgatla tribe believe in totem animals and that their wellbeing is dictated by the stars...

Overview
The province extends all the way from Gauteng to the Botswana border. The area is flanked by the Magaliesberg and the Kalahari Desert. North West has a population of just over three million people.

Climate
Summer brings hot, sunny days (temperatures in the region of around 22 to 34 degrees centigrade); winters are relatively warm during daylight hours, however the evenings can get somewhat chilly (temperatures range from 15 to 22 degrees centigrade).

GETTING TO KNOW NORTH WEST

Close to Gauteng, the North West province is a quick and easy escape from the big city, boasting superb accommodation options and a wide variety of sightseeing activities.

• The Taung Skull
The world-famous Taung Skull (Australopithecus Africanus) was found in the Buxton limestone quarry in 1924 by Dr Raymond Dart and indicated to the world that indeed the man initiated on the African continent. Visit the Taung Heritage Site where the skull was discovered – the area is no longer being mined but remains an important scientific research site and is also a place of great peace and tranquillity.

• Lesedi Cultural Village
A short, scenic drive outside of Johannesburg, this cultural village is a window on a number of our indigenous cultures for South Africans and international visitors alike. The village offers an exploration of traditional folklore and ancestry … not to mention the spectacular cuisine and fantastic curios.

• Magnificent Magaliesberg
The Magaliesberg mountain range is the perfect weekend spot for jaded Johannesburg city-dwellers. Just half an hour away from the big city lights, the Magaliesberg offers a country experience and is a favoured destination of bird-watchers, hikers and those who simply want to get away from it all.

• Sun City
The extravagant Sun City hotel/entertainment complex `in the middle of nowhere’, is known the world over as a tourism hotspot. It was built over 20 years ago in the homeland of Bophuthatswana when gambling was not permitted in South Africa under the apartheid government. Sun City remains an icon of family fun and entertainment. The Lost City is the obvious highlight of the Sun City complex and the Palace of the Lost City - with its extravagant lost-world theme and spectacular African feel - is one of the most famous hotels in the world.

• Valley of the Waves
Kids absolutely love this in-land seaside entertainment centre. The Valley of the Waves at the Lost City (Sun City) offers a gigantic man-made pool, a man-made beach, palm trees and a machine that produces bona fide waves! Death-defying water chute rides and the Temple of Courage waterslide is not for the faint hearted!

• Pilanesberg Game Reserve
Next door to the famous Sun City resort is the Pilanesberg Game Reserve, where visitors can experience the big five, just two hours from Johannesburg. The reserve is home to a large number of wild animals and is one of the province’s biggest attractions. The Pilanesberg mountain range exists as a result of an enormous volcano that erupted millions of years ago - leaving behind the beautiful hilly undulations that stretch as far as the eye can see.

• Mampoer Country
Groot Marico is a small town made famous by author Herman Charles Bosman. The spirit of one of his main characters, the feisty Oom Schalk Lourens, still lingers along the quiet streets of this enticing little town. Groot Marico is home to a vibrant artistic community – where the art of storytelling is alive and well. This area is also home to mampoer – a largely alcoholic drink that was traditionally made from peaches (although these days just about any fruit type will do). Mampoer is often compared to the American drink, moonshine, but according to the locals is a much stronger poison.

• Safari-time in Madikwe
Not too far from the Gaborone border lies the Northwest’s best-kept secret – Madikwe Game Reserve. This reserve, consisting of reclaimed farm land, is famous for the ambitious re-stocking programme “Operation Phoenix” that took place in the early nineties. The area is now home to the big five and is famous for its wild dog, spotted hyena, cheetah and elephant population. Madikwe also boasts fantastic accommodation across the board – from five-star opulence to roughing it in style.

• Story of the Siege
Once famous for the Mafikeng Siege during 1900 and where Baden Powell started what is now the international Scouts movement for young boys, today Mafikeng is an interesting combination of colonial modern African. Victorian buildings stand next to a modern-day museum that boasts ancient San works of art and Tswana traditional exhibits in a powerful juxtaposition of cultures. It was in Mafikeng that Sol Plaaitjie, one of South Africa’s most famous early writers, wrote of the spectacular Mafikeng Siege – this city is something of a mecca for Anglo-Boer War buffs … and other interested parties.

• Small-town treasures
North West is jam-packed with small towns and artistic communities. This is where real “boerekos” (traditional Afrikaner farm-style cuisine) is served up with a smile and where local communities invite you to their homes … to stay the night. Christiana, Wolmaranstad and Bloemhof are certainly worthy of a self-drive voyage of discovery.

• Cheetah Country
The De Wildt Cheetah Farm is a must for visitors to the province. This well-known centre is renowned for the breeding of cheetah (including the rare king cheetah), as well as the brown hyena and African wild dog.

• Land of Ancient Meteorites
Why not visit the Vredefort Dome (on the way to or from Potchefstroom) where an ancient meteorite is said to have hit the earth aeons ago….

• Wonderful Water sports
Hartebeespoort Dam is just a half hour drive from Johannesburg, and is something of a weekend mecca for water sports lovers. The perfect spot for a weekend getaway, and close enough for a quick day trip. The area boasts wonderful picnic spots and an opportunity to windsurf, sail, canoe, body-board and catch some welcome sun.