Situated in the north of South Africa and sharing the border of Botswana, the North West Province is a major mining area, often referred to as the Platinum Province. The province is visited mostly for Sun City, a vast entertainment playground, and the Pilanesberg National Park, one of the continent’s most significant wildlife reserves. However, the North West has an almost endless number of attractions – and across the spectrum – from thought-provoking to sheer, carefree fun.
The Cradle of Humankind and the Vredefort Dome are located within the North West Province, both UNESCO World Heritage sites.
The terrain varies from dry, semi-arid in the west to thick bushveld in the east, interspersed with mountain ranges, ancient volcanos and the occasional river course.
A journey through the North West will take you through gold, uranium and platinum mining areas, through diamond rush towns established in a bygone era and in places where some of the bloodiest battles occurred during the South African War.
Top 8 reasons to visit the North West Province
1. Set aside a minimum of 3 days to enjoy all that Sun City has to offer; 2 championship golf courses, 4 superb hotels, restaurants, a casino, adventure activities, water sports and children’s playparks. The Valley of Waves is a major drawcard for those seeking a simulated seaside holiday.
2. Self-drive or take a guided safari on an open vehicle through the 55000ha Pilanesberg Nature Reserve, located around an ancient, extinct volcano. The reserve has a wide variety of game originally translocated from all parts of the country.
3. The Lichtenburg Game Breeding Centre was formed by the Pretoria Zoo to breed valued animals, both indigenous and exotic varieties. The centre is on a 10000ha farm divided into 3 areas to prevent cross-breeding. Animals include the critically endangered rhino and the rare pigmy hippo.
4. Taung is the area where the Taung Child skull, believed to be the missing link between man and ape, was discovered in 1924. The skull elevated Johannesburg Professor Raymond Dart to international prominence but its finder Mr de Bruyn was never attributed with the discovery.
5. The oldest town in the region is Potchefstroom, filled with history and the town’s museum has exhibits ranging from the Stone Age period to recent events. Travel along Tom Street, with its 700 oak trees lining the 7km length.
6. Picturesque Hartbeespoort Dam is a weekend refuge for busy executives travelling from the neighbouring Gauteng Province. The dam has a number of waterside restaurants, zoos, and aerial cableway up to a ridge overlooking the dam. Boat cruise companies offer entertainment on the water.
7. The unusual rock formations seen at the Vredefort Dome complex were created after a devastating meteor impact over 2 billion years ago. The area is a hotspot for birders and has popular hiking trails. Hikers can visit the world’s largest African olive forest here.
8. Mahikeng, or Place of Boulders, was the scene of a siege that lasted 271 days during the South African War. The hero was British Colonel Baden-Powell who later started the Boy Scout movement. Visit the fort on Cannon Koppie (hill) and Wondergat (wonder hole) just outside the town. The hole is 70m in width with an unknown depth and frequented by divers.
The nearest international airport is OR Tambo International in Johannesburg. The province has several smaller airports in the Pilanesberg area and in Mahikeng, and chartered flights can be taken to the airports at Rustenburg and Klerksdorp. A car rental can either be ordered online or collected at a rental agency in any major town or airport. The Shosholoza Meyl train travelling between Cape Town and Johannesburg stops off in Potchefstroom.
Did you know?
In 1896, the British South African Company, led by statesman Leander Starr Jameson and financed by Cecil John Rhodes, attempted to overthrow the ZAR government. Known as the Jameson Raid, it was launched from Mahikeng and quickly quelled. The failure led to the resignation of Rhodes as Cape Prime Minister.
The name of the North West Province was recently changed to Bokone Bophirima Province, the Tswana translation thereof.