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North West Attractions

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Rustenburg and North West Province
North West Province Attractions



From untamed bushveld to the sophistication of 5 star luxury resorts, the North West Province provides the complete tourism package. Nature has blessed the North West with breathtaking scenic beauty, rolling fields of maize, golden sunflowers and vast plains of African bushveld.

When visiting the North West Province you can expect to be enchanted by magificent vistas, superb game parks (with the Big 5), magnificent golf courses and excellent sporting facilities.

The North West Province is divided into five distinct regions and offers a multitude of "must-see" attractions.


Bojanala Region


   


Regarded as the prettiest region of the North West Province, Bojanala borders on Gauteng. It includes within its boundaries Hartbeespoort Dam, the beautiful Magaliesberg Mountain range, and the Pilanesberg National Park . 


Bophirima


   


Marketed as that part of the North West Province to which one can escape and "get closer to nature", Bophirima, the new name for what once was known as Stellaland, has as its major draw cards game farms. 
A large portion of Bojanala is given over to bushveld and appears at once empty and flat, which accounts for the attraction of the Magaliesber.

Time spent here, if one can circumvent the resorts and time-shares that have mushroomed within easy access of Pretoria and Johannesburg, at nature reserves like the Kgaswane Mountain Reserve, and other private reserves and game farms, is an immediate restoration of the senses for stressed city dwellers, and visitors are seldom disappointed.

The Pilanesberg National Park is a huge draw card for Gauteng visitors who hunger after a 'Big 5' experience, without having to travel far. But the actual motive for visiting the beautiful reserve is that it lies in an ancient volcanic crater.

   


The Bojanala region also boasts the Sun City Lost City complex – well worth a visit if you have not gone before, and the Cradle of Humankind, a world heritage site that stretches from Hartbeespoort Dam right up to Rustenburg. Here ancient artefacts dating from the Stone Age have placed this part of the continent under the spotlight. The Tswaing meteor crater and salt pan, also one of the highlights of the Bojanala region, is one of the most remarkable geological places in the world to visit, just 40 kilometres north of Pretoria.


Hartbeespoort Dam



   



The beauty of Hartbeespoort Dam is what draws people here - the dam literally cradled in the lap of the mountains - and many regard this as a retreat from the concrete jungle of city living. The 1620 hectare Hartbeespoort Dam .


Roughly 45 minutes' drive from Johannesburg and Pretoria, surrounded by the beautiful Magaliesberg mountain range, Hartbeespoort Dam, or Harties to locals, has become a hive of activity and is a very popular weekend getaway for the two cities.

   


The beauty of Hartbeespoort Dam is what draws people here - the dam literally cradled in the lap of the mountains - and many regard this as a retreat from the concrete jungle of city living. The 1620 hectare Hartbeespoort Dam functions both as a source of irrigation for farms in the area and as a resort, and the peace of the hills and valleys, the warmth even on winter days and the charm of the surrounding countryside, make this a place to restore the soul.




Take the scenic road from Johannesburg to Hartbeespoort, along curving roads that meander between aloes in flower during the winter months, and you're sure to pass the breakfast run of Harley-Davidsons - their drivers part of the Jo'burg exec set hell bent on nothing more than enjoying their machines in the sunshine.


 


The Hartbeespoort Dam offers an array of water sports, a local bird sanctuary, challenging hikes and gentle rambles. There is a collection of restaurants in Hartbeespoort that range from Tan' Malie se Winkle, a local institution where you can eat to your heart's content on traditional Afrikaans home-cooked meals, to the local Pick-a-Pancake, which takes pancakes into a new league. This restaurant lies literally in the heart of the Welwitschia Market - a range of African arts, crafts, novelties, curios and other at the fourway crossing at Hartbeespoort that makes a visit here imperative.





Central Region



   



The central region of the North West Province is dominated by bushveld and savannah plains, the fertile grasslands subject to fields of maize, sunflowers and ground nuts, as well as cattle and game farming.  
The central region borders on Botswana, and is an amalgamation of what was once the western Transvaal and Bophuthatswana, dominated by the capital of the province, Mafikeng, and the Groot Marico Bushveld area, an area romanticised in the stories by the author Herman Charles Bosman. To the west lie the fringes of the Kalahari Desert, which explains the tendency of the central region to become drier and flatter the further west one travels.

  


Whilst Mafikeng, the commercial and administrative centre of the area, is the major hub of the central region, and is without doubt a vibrant city worth a visit, it is the smaller towns like Delareyville where the Barberspan Bird Sanctuary is situated just outside the town, Ottosdal, where the totally unique "wonderstone" is mined, Groot Marico, and Zeerust that collectively steal the show. More essentially, the central region is about game viewing. Game farms and guest houses are in abundant supply in this bushveld area that includes 'Big 5' game viewing, fishing, bird watching and numerous other activities.


    


Highlights of the central region include the Botsalano Game Reserve, Cookes Lake, Mafikeng, including the game reserve just outside town, the Lichtenburg Game Breeding Centre, the Kortdloof Cultural Village and Disaneng Dam


Southern Region






In a similar vein to the eastern part of the North West Province, the southern region is also predominantly a crop-growing area that produces maize, sunflowers, tobacco, cotton and citrus fruits. 





The southern region lies bordering the Free State in the south, and Gauteng to the west, the Vaal River flanking its southern border, and providing a collection of lodges and guest houses for effortless time spent fly fishing and angling, as well as other water activities. This part of the North West is promoted as an outdoor adventurer’s delight, and it is not hard to imagine, given the many opportunities to hike, mountain bike, white water raft, climb mountains and generally enjoy the great outdoors.





With attractions like the Bloemhof Dam Reserve and the Boskop Dam Reserve, both of which offer the magnetism of water, and the Vredefort Dome, the crater site of a massive meteorite that is over 10 square kilometres in size, and one of the main tourism sites in the province, it is not hard to see that the central region is frequently visited, particularly as it is so close to Gauteng.





The appealing city of Potchefstroom, situated on the banks of the Mooi River, and the commercial town of Klerksdorp, are not the only towns worth visiting. Typical mining towns like Fochville and farming community towns like Christiana also dot the map and make the central region an exciting mix of outdoor lifestyle and village life.


Pilanesberg National Park




The Pilanesberg National Park, which covers some 55 000 hectare, is the fourth largest in southern Africa. This malaria-free park is perched on the eroded vestiges of an alkaline volcanic crater - one of only three such craters in the world.The park boasts healthy populations of lion, leopard, black and white rhino .


The history of the Pilanesberg Park is also unique amongst national parks in South Africa. Pilanesberg National Park's special features of rugged landscape, well-watered valleys and attractive dwelling sites have made it a preferred site for human settlement for thousands of years. Prior to its proclamation as a reserve in 1979, the Pilanesberg National Park Complex was degraded and depleted of indigenous wildlife populations due to fairly intense settlement by commercial farmers.



At considerable expense, the land has been restocked with game, the scars of human settlement were removed and tourism infrastructure was developed during the first 15 years (1979 and 1993). This constituted the largest and most expensive game stocking and land rehabilitation project ever undertaken in any African game reserve at the time.


  


A 110 kilometre peripheral Big Game fence was erected over some very rugged terrain, 188 kilometre of visitor roads have been developed and more than 6 000 head of game were introduced during the Operation Genesis game translocation programme. Thus, while wildlife resources are rapidly declining in most developing countries in Africa, Pilanesberg National Park is one of the few areas where this trend has been dramatically reversed. For this far-sighted action the North West Province (Previously Bop Parks) and its people have received worldwide acclaim and recognition.

Sun City Resort





   



The extravagant Sun City Hotel & Entertainment complex is known the world over as a tourism hotspot. 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 African feel, is one of the most famous hotels in the world .


   


Deep in the rugged bushveld, in the heart of an ancient volcano, lies the world's most unique resort, the internationally acclaimed Sun City. The Resort has a unique heartbeat and an African rhythm of its own and is unlike any other Resort destination in the world. This is pure fantasy and your every desire is met.

There are four world-class hotels including the magnificent Palace of the Lost City that glitters like a jewel beneath the African sun, brilliant in its rain forest surroundings and luxurious in its detail and design. Adjoining the Resort, is the beautiful Pilanesberg National Park, which will delight game viewers as it is a malaria free zone and home to the "Big 5" (Buffalo, Elephant, Leopard, Lion and Rhino).





The Sun City resort has amazed the international community with its glamorous casinos, gourmet restaurants, extensive sports facilities and star studded spectaculars. The full variety of entertainment on offer ranges from slots to safaris; the theatre extravaganza to a games arcade for children; horse riding to golf; the Valley of Waves to The Lost City ... whatever it is you're looking for, you'll find it at Sun City



The Palace of the Lost City is a fantasy world of Africa 's jungles, cliff-tumbling gardens, streams, waterfalls, swimming pools, and al fresco entertainment areas. Legend tells us that the Palace of the Lost City was built as the royal residence of an ancient civilisation of South Africa, but was destroyed by an earthquake. It has now been restored to its former glory and offers splendid accommodation in the most sumptuous surroundings in South Africa.


Cradle of Humankind


   


The Cradle of Humankind Site comprises a strip of a dozen dolomitic limestone caves containing the fossillised remains of ancient forms of animals, plants and most importantly, hominids. The dolomite in which the caves formed, started out as coral reefs growing in a worm shallow sea about 2.3 billion years ago .

   


As the reefs died off they were transformed into limestone which some time later was converted into dolomite. Millions of years later after the sea had receded, slightly acidic groundwater began to dissolve out calcium carbonate from the dolomite to form underground caverns. Over time the water table dropped and the underground caverns were exposed to the air.

 


The percolation of acidic water through the dolomite also dissolved calcium carbonates out of the rock into the caverns, which formed stalactites, stalagmites and other crystalline structures. Continued erosion on the earth's surface and dissolution of the dolomite eventually resulted in shafts or avens forming between the surface of the earth and the caverns below. Bones, stones and plants washed down these shafts into the caves; and animals and hominids fell into the caves, became trapped and died.The bone and plant remains became fossilized and along with various stones and pebbles became cemented in a hard mixture called breccia.


At least seven of the twelve sites have yielded hominid remains. In fact, together these cave sites have produced over 850 hominid fossil remains, so that to date they represent one of the world's richest concentrations of fossil hominid bearing sites.The scientific value of this area lies in the fact that these sites provide us with a window into the past, to a time when our earliest ancestors were evolving and changing. Scientists have long accepted that all humans had their origins in Africa.


Through the use of biochemical evidence they have argued that the split of the human lineage (Hominidae) from that of the African apes took place around 5-6 million years ago. The study of hominid fossils from sites in Africa thus enables scientists to understand how these hominids have changed and diversified since then.



Taung Heritage Site

  


"The Place of the Lion" named after Tau, the chief of the Bataung people, who made his headquarters here during the 18th century. Taung became famous in 1924 with the discovery of a fossilised skull of a child. Prof Dart, who discovered the skull belonging to an early hominid, named it "Australopithecus africanus".


Barberspan Bird Sanctuary

 


Regarded as one of the largest waterfowl sanctuaries in Southern Africa, Barberspan Bird Sanctuary lies on the outskirts of the little known Delareyville, close to Vryburg on the N14 highway and roughly three hours’ drive from Johannesburg. Barberspan is the largest of a series of pans .The Barberspan bird sanctuary lies on the outskirts of the little known Delareyville, close to Vryburg on the N14 highway and roughly three hours’ drive from Johannesburg.



Barberspan is the largest of a series of pans that lie in the fossil bed of the Harts River. The pan, which measures roughly 600 metres wide and 1 550 metres in length lies within the Barberspan Bird Sanctuary. More than 12 000 birds and over 365 bird species have been recorded here - the sheer numbers and diversity mean that the sanctuary is extremely popular with birders.



Part of the reason for so many birds is that it is one of the few permanent bodies of water on the western highveld, and during the dry months, provides food and shelter for these large numbers of waterbirds. It is home to, amongst others, flamingos, pelicans, grebes, terns, herons, cranes, ibis and bitterns, and all but one of the South African duck species have been sighted at the pans.


Power boats are not allowed in the pans and even canoes and rowing boats are restricted to the southern section, although birding from a canoe is particularly gratifying.


However the Barberspan Bird Sanctuary is popular with anglers and several regional and national angling competitions are held here. One is allowed to camp along the angling shoreline and there are also walking trails.



Royal Bafokeng Stadium






The Royal Bafokeng Stadium will host first and second round matches for the FIFA™ World Cup in 2010. Located in Rustenburg in the North West Province, Royal Bafokeng was opened in 1999 and completely funded by the Royal Bafokeng community. 


  

The capacity of the Royal Bafokeng was increased to 42 44,000 with the construction of two additional rows of seating on the second level. New electronic scoreboards, floodlights and a new public address system completed the requirements for it to host the first and second round matches of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa



               


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