The North West province is home to two premier game reserves housing the Big Five, parts of two World Heritage Sites, the Sun City entertainment complex, a variety of adventure-sport destinations and an underwater cave-diving experience.

Did you know?

The largest wildlife translocation in the world - Operation Phoenix - has seen 8 000 animals released into the Madikwe Game Reserve.

For the most part, South Africa's North West province is a vast grassland dotted with trees and views that stretch to distant horizons. It is rich in minerals and is also known as the 'platinum province'.

A combination of good weather and great soil makes it an agricultural epicentre, while natural and man-made attractions ensure that tourism is another major drawcard.

Parts of two UNESCO World Heritage sites fall within North West: the Vredefort Dome – the world's largest meteor-impact crater; and the Taung hominid fossil site, part of the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site.

North West's capital, Mahikeng, is most famous for the 1899 Siege of Mafikeng during the Anglo-Boer War, and is also associated with the Boy Scout movement. A visit to the Mafikeng Museum, Kanon Kopje and the Barolong Boora Tshidi Kgotla will help fit the historical puzzle pieces in place.

A popular attraction in North West is the Magaliesberg mountain range, which boasts deep gullies and wonderful kloofs (ravines), with waterfalls of crystal-clear water spilling from the heart of the mountain – a paradise for climbers and hikers.

The Magaliesberg cliffs overlook the picturesque Hartbeespoort Dam and its surrounds, which feature golf, water sports, hot air ballooning, abseiling, a cableway and a canopy trail that takes you on a kilometre-long suspended slide along the Magaliesberg cliffs.

This area also has an arts and crafts route that attracts weekend visitors, as do the elephant sanctuary, monkey sanctuary and Hartbeespoort Snake and Animal Park, renowned for its breeding of endangered black-footed wild cat, Cape vulture and the Cape hunting dog.

The Vegas of South Africa, the Sun City hotel and entertainment complex, is about a two-hour drive from Johannesburg. It features the Palace of the Lost City hotel; the Sun City hotel; Valley of the Waves water theme park and beach venue; the 6 000-seater Superbowl venue; a theatre; and a casino.

The resort also hosts the world-famous Nedbank Golf Challenge on the Gary Player Country Club course each year. And next door is the Kwena Gardens crocodile sanctuary.

North West's inland location and extensive grasslands provide the perfect setting for a number of malaria-free wildlife reserves. These include Madikwe, South Africa's fourth-largest game reserve, and the Pilanesberg Game Reserve, both home to the Big Five as well as other mammals and birds.

For a taste of traditional South African culture, visit the Lesedi cultural village, which features five traditional dwellings, each representing a culture of South Africa’s diverse population: Pedi, Zulu, Xhosa, Basotho and Ndebele. For something a little different, you can follow in the footsteps of one of South Africa’s literary giants, Herman Charles Bosman, as you follow his trail to Groot Marico.

Magaliesberg, Hartbeespoort and Pilanesberg are popular weekend getaway spots, where paragliding, windsurfing, waterskiing and jet-skiing attract thrill-seekers. And there's also Wondergat, an extensive underwater cave network where many divers have honed their skills.

Travel tips & Planning info

Who to contact

North West Tourism Authority
Tel: +27 (0)18 397 1500
Email: info@tourismnorthwest.co.za

Madikwe Game Reserve
Tel: +27 (0)18 350 9931/2
Email: madikweadmin@telkomsa.net

Pilanesberg Game Reserve
Tel: +27 (0)87 820 7141

How to get here

The North West province has air and rail links with all major South African cities. It is also easy to drive there from neighbouring provinces.

Best time to visit

Summers (November to February) are very hot, winters mild to cool. But all the seasons have something to recommend them in this part of the country.

Around the area

Vredefort Dome World Heritage Site; Taung fossil site; Wondergat cave; Magaliesberg mountains; Hartbeespoort Dam; Pilanesberg Game Reserve; Madikwe Game Reserve; Sun City

Tours to do

Ziplining in the Magaliesberg, hot air ballooning over the Pilanesberg, the Welwitschia craft market, Margaret Roberts herb gardens.

Get around

The road network is extensive and well maintained, so driving yourself around is easy. Alternatively, opt for a guided tour by bus or mini-van.

Length of stay

A weekend or more, depending on how much you wish to explore.

What to pack

Always pack plenty of sunscreen and a hat. Good walking shoes or hiking boots are also a must for those who prefer to explore on foot.

Best buys

Roadside curios, because this is a great way of supporting local entrepreneurs.