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North West South African Travel Information
A diverse mix of wildlife reserves, cultural and heritage sites, archaeological treasures and entertainment resorts, such as the world-renowed pleasure spots of Sun City, its Lost City and Valley of the Waves, make this province attractive to the local and international tourist. However, even though the combination of five-star casino resorts and the bush experience, as provided by the Pilanesberg National Park, is a winner, the province's other attractions are culturally rich and of great importance. Sites and routes such as the Taung Archaeological site, where it was believed Darwin's missing link was found, and the Crocodile River Ramble, exploring local arts and crafts along the way, are noteworthy. Sport and outdoor enthusiasts will feel at home in these natural surroundings that cater for activities ranging from water skiing to mountain climbing, with the town of Mafikeng well-known for providing some of the best gliding conditions in the world.

The North West experiences warm to hot summers and cold to very cold winters. This province offers almost year-round sunshine meaning visitors will spend very few days indoors. The province enjoys a summer rainfall, which normally sees thunderstorms occurring in the late afternoon. Rain falls mainly between December and March, however the more west one travels the drier it becomes.

Shopping malls, antique shops, craft markets, art galleries as well as roadside vendors and stalls are plentiful throughout the province. Not-to-be-missed is the enjoyable Crocodile River Ramble shopping route. Good buys include fruit, biltong, home-made jams and preserves, mampoer (locally distilled liquor), local arts and crafts, ethnic clothing and fabrics.

Sun City

The complex boasts two world-famous golf courses, which annually host the Nedbank 2-million golf challenge, one of the richest invitational tournaments in the world. There is a full casino at the resort, revue theatres and restaurants for every taste. The Valley of the Waves is an inland sea enjoyed by all water and beach enthusiasts. Different tours can be taken including visits to the new cultural village and the botanical gardens.

Pilanesberg National Park

Known as "Jewel of the North West" This unusual reserve, the fourth largest in South Africa, is set high in the Pilanesberg range and traverses the floor of a long-extinct volcano. The reserve is home to all the main African game species including The Big Five. For the more adventurous, hot-air balloon safaris can be arranged.

Mafikeng

"The place of boulders", Mafikeng offers numerous sporting facilities including two golf courses. There is a major conference centre, complemented by two excellent hotels and a casino. The town hosted the 2001 International Gliding Championships from its modern airport. Gliding conditions around Mafikeng are regarded as among the best in the world. A short distance from the town is the Mafikeng Game Reserve, well known as a breeding centre for rhino and other plains species.

Taung Archaeological Site

"The place of the lion", this is the location of the world-famous Taung archaeological site at the Buxton limestone quarry where, in 1924 the lime-encrusted skull of a child was discovered and later named Australopithecus africanus by the scientist, Dr Raymond Dart. The prehistoric skull - half man, half ape, is said to have provided the missing link in Darwin's theory of evolution.

Bloemhof Dam Nature Reserve

Ideal stopover to enjoy a drive through Bloemhof Dam Nature Reserve which has a variety of small and large antelope species and 256 bird species, with the option of staying over to take in some angling for carp and barbel on either the Bloemhof Dam or the Vaal River. Bloemhof Dam caters for water sports enthusiasts and is one of the prime angling destinations in South Africa hosting a number of major local and international angling competitions.

Potchefstroom

The oldest town in South Africa, Potchefstroom was also the republic's first capital. Attractions include the Potchefstroom Museum (in the house of the first president), The Old Fort and Museum, Totius House Museum, Andrew Carnegie Library and City Hall, Goetz Fleischack Museum, North West Command and Oak Avenue.

Rustenburg

Platinum mining town of Rustenburg where huge deposits of this valuable mineral are mined. Rustenburg has its own Nature Reserve, which protects a large herd of the rare sable antelope. Visitors are allowed to hike in the park.

Hartbeesport Dam

The Hartbeesport Dam nestles in the shadow of the Magaliesberg and is popular for fishing, boating, water-skiing and yachting. There is a mine, zoo and a couple of small holiday villages, including the attractive kosmos flowers around the dam.

Magaliesberg

For local arts and crafts, a driving route which begins in Johannesburg and extends to the Magaliesberg area takes in the homes or shops of a host of artists, potters and craftspeople, known as the Crocodile River Ramble. There are a number of pleasant accommodation options and camping spots in the Magaliesberg area.

Mampoer Route

Well known for the quality of its mampoer, a powerful home-brew made from fruit such as peaches and apricots. The Mampoer Route is about 60 km long and introduces visitors to the secrets of the distilling process and also includes a visit to a trout breeding farm and a game farm.
About the Author
Gerald Crawford was born in South Africa, studied electronics, telecommunication, eco-travel and african travel concepts. He taught responsible tourism in South Africa. If you have any questions or comments please e-mail me on. E-mail address: southafricantravelarticles@12234455.co.za. Website address: www.12234455.co.za.
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