North West Province is known first and foremost (for better or worse) as the home of Sun City, a huge entertainment complex and one-time gambling haven which was once the most visited site in South Africa. It remains hugely popular, and is the most likely reason for visitors to venture into this dry and stark state.
Much of North West Province is visually unremarkable, made up of flat Kalahari grasslands and dotted with lonely farming communities which were some of the most important agricultural centres in the 19th century. This was once the Western Transvaal, one of the areas where the Voortrekkers settled at the end of the Great Trek, and towns such as Mafikeng and Rustenburg have a fascinating history.
Gambling and history aside, the best reason for visiting is the region's excellent game parks, all at a malaria-free altitude of 1000-2000 m. The well-publicized Pilanesberg Game Reserve is easily accessible, lying incongruously close to Sun City, while Madikwe Game Reserve is one of the finest parks in the country, offering excellent accommodation and the chance of seeing the Bi
g Five just a few hours from Johannesburg and Tshwane (Pretoria).
A more low-key attraction and a big draw for locals are the Magaliesberg Mountains, less than one hour's drive from Tshwane (Pretoria). Although made up by a fairly bland series of bush-covered hills, they are filled with wild hiking trails and dotted with comfortable holiday resorts. Further west are numerous private game farms, which provide an insight into life in the bushveld on the edge of the Kalahari.
This is edited copy from Footprint Handbooks. For comprehensive details (incl address, tel no, directions, opening times and prices) please refer to book or individual chapter PDF