North West

North West

Things to do - general

South Africas interior with its open horizons, isolated villages and fast vistas is more off the beaten track. The NorthWest Province extends from Gauteng to the Botswana border and the Kalahari desert. It’s one of the most visited provinces in South Africa, most tourists flock in Sun City and the Pilanesberg Game Reserve. But it can be very rewarding to explore the rest of this province.

Much of the province consists of flat areas of scattered trees and grassland. The Magaliesberg mountain range in the northeast extends about 130 km (about 80 miles) from Pretoria to Rustenburg. The Vaal River flows along the southern border of the province.

In the east the Magalies Mountains with rolling hills, sparlking streams and kloofs separate Johannesburg from the open spaces of the NorthWest. There is plenty accommodation available because fast numbers of Jo’burgers come here to escape the city in the weekends.

In the north, on the border with Botswana, Madikwe Game Reserve is one of South Africa’s gems, a huge Big 5 park with upclass accommodation. All Big 5 can be spotted here, plus the endangered wild dog. It is a malaria free area, making it a good option for children.

In the Northwest a large number of small villages are waiting to be explored, scattered all over the province. Here the tourist finds old-fashioned hospitality and endless stretches of grasslands. Accommodation is easy to find, all along the road farms offer Bed and Breakfast accommodation.

Groot Marico is the most famous of all South Africa’s small farming towns. It hosts a Literary Weekend every October, drawing people in from far and wide.

The mainstay of the economy of North West Province is mining, which generates more than half of the province’s gross domestic product and provides jobs for a quarter of its workforce. The chief minerals are gold, mined at Orkney and Klerksdorp; uranium, mined at Klerksdorp; platinum, mined at Rustenburg and Brits; and diamonds, mined at Lichtenburg, Christiana, and Bloemhof.

About 85% of all money-making activities take place between Klerksdorp and Potchefstroom. The economic heart of the province is Klerksdorp.

The northern and western parts of the province have many sheep farms and cattle and game ranches. The eastern and southern parts are crop-growing regions that produce maize (corn), sunflowers, tobacco, cotton, and citrus fruits. The entertainment and casino complex at Sun City and Lost City also contributes to the provincial economy.

Country South Africa
Area (km2)Phalaborwa

Nature

North West Province Nature Reserves offer a range of accommodation options, activities in nature, wildlife and beautiful scenery.

Malaria-free Pilanesberg National Park, adjacent to Sun City Resort, is situated in a long extinct volcano. Spot Big Five in one of the largest national parks in South Africa.
Standing high above the surrounding bushveld, Pilanesberg NP unfolds in a series of colourful hues and panoramas which is a delight for photographers and guests. Visitors can explore nearly 200km (124 miles) of excellent quality roads on self-drives or guided game drives. For 'out-of-car' experiences, there are a number of hides and scenic picnic sites available.

Madikwe Game Reserve lies 90 km north of Zeerust on what used to be farm land, but owing to the poor soil type, farming was not that successful. After extensive research, the South African Government found that this land would best be utilised as a national park, to economically uplift this otherwise rather poor area.

Following Operation Phoenix, Madikwe has also successfully reintroduce rarer predatory species such as lions, cheetahs, spotted hyenas and Cape wild dogs bringing the total large mammal population of the reserve to over 10 000. There are currently more than 60 species of mammal in the park.

The reserve has recently opened itself up to private farms outside the main reserve. Private users need to abide by parks board rules, animals can roam over any land, but there are restrictions as to where private vehicles can drive. There are 30 lodges on the property, and six lodges in the private farms outside the main reserve. Madikwe has started Community Lodges, which the local villages own and run. All profits are then used to uplift the communities.

It is currently the fifth largest game reserve in South Africa and yet not widely known. The park is now 680 km² by itself, and 750 km², including the now incorporated privately owned land. The terrain is mainly open grasslands and bushveld plains, interspersed with rocky outcrops and single mountains. Madikwe has been regarded as one of the better conservation areas in Africa, offering all the major species, including lion, leopards, elephants, Cape buffaloes, both white and black rhinos along with almost all the plains antelope species.

A special feature of Madikwe lies in its unique location, a transition zone on the edges of the Kalahari, where a number of rare species occur naturally, and the bushveld. The climate is generally mild to hot, but winter nights can be cold. Over 350 species of birds have been recorded at Madikwe.

Culture and history info

North West is located to the west of the major population centre of Gauteng. Its capital is Mahikeng while Klerksdorp is the largest city in the province.

North West was created after the end of Apartheid in 1994, and includes parts of the former Transvaal Province and Cape Province, as well as most of the former Bantustan of Bophuthatswana. It was the scene of political violence in Khutsong, Merafong City Local Municipality in 2006 and 2007, after cross-province municipalities were abolished and Merafong Municipality was transferred entirely to North West. Merafong has since been transferred to Gauteng province in 2009.

The province had two universities: the University of North West, which was formerly called the University of Bophuthatswana (founded in 1979), in Mmabatho; and Potchefstroom University for Christian Higher Education (founded in 1869; became a constituent college of the University of South Africa in 1921 and an independent university in 1951). These two universities have now merged and the new institution is called North-West University.

There is also a private university found in Klerksdorp: Centurion Akademie Klerksdorp, which caters mainly to Afrikaans students. Because it is a private institution classes may be in Afrikaans and the foundation of education gained at Centurion Akademie is based on the Christian faith. It is also the largest institution of its kind in existence.

Unfortunately there are no accommodations at this location at the moment.