The North West Province – A Birds Eye View

The North West Province which extends west from Gauteng to the Botswana border and the Kalahari Desert is by far the least understood of the nine provinces. When most people think of the North West, the opulence of Sun City Resort and the Big Five Pilanesberg National Park come to mind, but not much else. But if you are curious beyond these two well-known attractions and willing to venture further into this region, there are untold gems worth their weight in little dorpies (small towns in Afrikaans) which offer a refreshingly old-fashioned hospitality. And never-ending stretches of grassland and fields of mielies (sweetcorn) which offer a restorative change from the hustle and bustle of Jozi.

The Magaliesberg mountains are the first on my radar. Located along the North West province’s eastern flank, essentially separating it from Gauteng, these mountains which are one hundred times older than the Himalayas supply nature-starved Jo’burgers with a dose of much need flora and fauna.

Just beyond the northeastern main town of Rustenburg and spanning a forty-square-kilometre portion of the Magaliesberg lies The Kgaswane Mountain Reserve. Though the Baviaanskrans is the most popular The Summit is one hiking trail worth the time. Keep an eye out for the rare black eagle, Martial Eagle and Cape vulture, as well as (random) parrots and paradise flycatchers.

The Hamlet of the North West, called Groot Marico, which lies further west along the N4, is a town known for its mampoer and tall tales. But besides its biodiversity, should more so be for its laidback friendly inhabitants and uncannily deep soul.


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Further west – famed for its siege during the second Anglo-Boer War – lies the provincial capital of Mafikeng. Besides acting as a shopping and transportation hub for the wider area of farmland that surrounds it, Mafikeng paints a notable portrait of apartheid and its deep contradictions.

The feather in the Central region’s cap is one of my favourite reserves. Located on the Botswana border and the birthplace of Operation Phoenix is the rarely visited Madikwe Game Reserve. Madikwe is one of South Africa’s undiscovered wildlife gems. It is a massive Big-5 park which includes rare sightings of the endangered wild dog. It also sees surprisingly few visitors in comparison to other parks as it really does possess some exceptional game lodges like Madikwe Hills Main Camp and Jamala Madikwe Royal Safari Lodge.

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