North West Highlights
Travelling north from Johannesburg, you pass through the Magaliesberg mountain range, distinguished by several kilometres of spectacular quartzite cliffs. The Magaliesberg are among the oldest mountains in the world, almost 100 times older than Everest. Water runoff from the mountains has created deep gullies and wonderful kloofs (ravines), with waterfalls of crystal clear water spilling from the heart of the mountain. It is a paradise for climbers and hikers.
The Magaliesberg cliffs overlook the picturesque Hartebeespoort Dam. This area is a popular weekend retreat for residents of Johannesburg and Pretoria, and it offers a host of leisure attractions, such as golf, water sports, hot air ballooning, abseiling, a canopy trail which takes you on a kilometre-long suspended slide along the Magaliesberg cliffs and ravines, and much more. Quaint restaurants and roadside pubs dot the area and there is an arts and crafts route that links the studios of the
many artists who live in the vicinity.
Also worth a visit is the Hartebeespoort Snake and Animal Park which features the finest selection of reptiles in southern Africa. The Park is also renowned for its breeding of endangered species, such as the Blackfooted Wild Cat, the Cape Vulture and the Cape Hunting Dog.
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.
Sun City is tucked in a secluded valley two hours’ drive from Johannesburg. The opulent Palace Hotel is considered one of the finest hotels in Africa, and the resort features three other hotels: the superior Cascades Hotel, the lively Sun City Hotel and the value-formoney Cabanas Hotel. The resort offers numerous attractions such
as extravaganza shows, theatre and a variety of casinos. It also boasts two championship golf courses and the world-renowned Million Dollar annual golf challenge, which hosts the world’s top golfers every year.
You will love Sun City’s magnificent gardens and the almost tame antelope that wander through its grounds. And don’t miss a swim in the remarkable man-made Valley of the Waves, or the flume rides in the water park, or the Temple of Courage with its 17m death-defying water slide. Another great attraction is the adjoining Kwena Crocodile Garden, a reptile park which is home to giant Nile crocodiles, including‘Footloose’, a 120-year old crocodile weighing 800 kg.
Bordering on Sun City and located in the ancient crater of an extinct volcano is the Pilansberg National Park, which is home to one of the country’s largest game reserves. The Pilanesberg Game Reserve is perfect for a day-trip to see the Big Five, along with wild dogs, brown hyena and sable antelope, a wide range of buck and many other species. Why not indulge in a balloon safari over Pilansberg – it comes with a game drive, a full English breakfast and champagne.
North of Pilansberg is the Madikwe Game Reserve. Almost half the size of Belgium, it is a conservation area that encompasses Kalahari sandveld in the west to thornveld in the east. Both Madikwe and Pilansberg feature the Big Five, with large concentrations of elephant, and offer luxury lodge accommodation.
Lesedi Cultural Village
If you want to get an idea of traditional South African cultures, then the Lesedi multi-cultural village, less than an hour’s drive north of Johannesburg and set amongst rocky hills and bushveld, is a perfect outing. Lesedi (meaning Light) features five traditional dwellings, each representing a culture of South Africa’s many ethnic tribes: Pedi, Zulu, Xhosa, Basotho and Ndebele.
Each of these families live here permanently, looking after cows, chickens and tourists. Tours through their homes offer an interesting insight into the customs and social organisation of the different cultures. If you are interested in staying overnight, you will be welcomed by the family of the homestead and the head of the house then becomes your host and guide for the duration of your stay.