North West

Predominately a mining and agricultural region, the North West province has some of the finest wildlife reserves, cultural sites, archaeological treasures and entertainment resorts in South Africa. Near the Hartbeespoort Dam area is the Ann van Dyk Cheetah Centre, renowned for its breeding success of rare and endangered species. Rustenburg, dating back to 1851, is the centre of the tobacco, cotton and citrus areas and Boekenhoutfontein, Paul Kruger’s former homestead, is situated nearby at the Kedar Country Hotel. Kedar is the custodian of the Paul Kruger Country House Museum, and the restored buildings and Kruger memorabilia make this a fascinating National Monument.

Sun City and The Lost City Resort form one of the prime tourist destinations in the country. The complex, which is set on the slopes of a picturesque valley in the Pilanesberg mountains, captures the essence of a mythical African kingdom in its opulent architectural style. The malaria-free Pilanesberg National Park is home to the Big Five. Madikwe Game Reserve has a significant population of the nearly extinct African wild dog. The Groot Marico region was made famous by Herman Charles Bosman, who wrote enchanting tales of the early days in the Marico bushveld.

Mafikeng, meaning “the place among the rocks”, was founded in 1857 and has been the scene of two significant sieges in South Africa’s history, one during the Anglo Boer War and the other just days before South Africa’s first democratic elections, when a band of armed, khaki-clad AWB right-wingers invaded Mafikeng in a last-ditch attempt to safe-guard the former Bophutatswana homeland.

Wondergat, situated 30 km from Mafikeng, offers a highly technical scuba diving experience in warm, crystal clear water. “Wagon-wheel” fossils have formed against the ceiling of one of the shallower caves, and are possibly the oldest fossils ever found.

The Taung Heritage Site is a place of enormous scientific importance. It was here, in 1924, that the skull of a child was found, and the discovery was greatly to advance the knowledge of the presence of early humankind in Africa. The famous scientist, Dr Raymond Dart, named the skull “Australopithecus africanus”. This was the first discovery that provided evidence to support Charles Darwin’s theory that modern human beings had evolved from ancestral apes. Taung has joined Sterkfontein as one of the most important pre-hominid sites in the world.