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Gopane

Travel Guide Africa South Africa North West Gopane

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Introduction

Gopane House

Gopane House

© All Rights Reserved Lerato

Nuzzled up against the hills leading to Botswana, Gopane is one of the northern-most towns in North West Province, not far (as the Kga-kga bird flies) from Gaborone. This sleepy village at the end of the combi route is relatively large, an amalgamation of several villages, with neighborhoods named after their totem animals. Lack of planning and property lines lends Gopane a sprawling design, with dirt paths and a few paved roads connecting the far-flung neighborhoods in this picturesque valley.

With around 80% unemployment, low levels of education and motivation, and very little support or encouragement from the outside world--with the exception of the occasional Peace Corps Volunteer--this area of South Africa might strike a traveler as depressed. Yet many beautiful elements of Tswana culture flourish, bringing light and hope to the otherwise dismal landscape. Traditional dance and handicrafts, and the mesmerizing vocal skill of the Tswana will surely charm visitors.

Reminders of South Africa's fascinating history live on in Gopane, and if you're lucky, perhaps you'll even get to see the site of the male initiation ceremonies.

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Sights and Activities

  • Apartheid-era ANC hideout in the hills on the border with Botswana
  • Livingston's church
  • Give-A-Hand-And-Hope AIDs NGO provides shelter for HIV-positive children and adults with no where else to go. The organization also makes traditional handcrafts to sell and raise money, and supports girls' clubs and a celebrated Tswana dance troupe!

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Events and Festivals

The main event in Gopane is the Pensioner's Day Market. The date is set on a lunar calendar, and marks the day when the chief distributes money to residents. Vendors selling vegetables and grains gather near the chief's kral for the residents to spend their checks on food for the month.

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Getting There

By Combi

You can catch a combi from Zeerust, and Gopane is the last stop.

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Getting Around

By Bike

Make sure you have a sturty mountain bike and wear a helmet.

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Eat

Pack your own grub unless you want to dine on mealie pap and sour milk.

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Drink

  • The Shabeens (bars) at the crossroads have plenty of booze. Not recommended for women.

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Keep Connected

Internet

Big cities and most of the popular places in the country usually have an internet café though they are not as abundant as in, for example, Asia or South America. It's also relatively expensive, usually 20-30 rand an hour, sometimes even more. Many of the accommodation options have internet access available, either wireless with your own laptop or by their own computer(s). Wireless access is also available throughout the country in more and more cafes and eateries, sometimes free and sometimes for a small fee. Note that you usually have to login anyway and agree with the terms and conditions. It is cheapest to buy a prepaid cell phone starter pack (less than R10) and access the Internet with GPRS or 3G. Generally R2 per MB for out of bundle data from most providers (50c for Virgin Mobile), but it becomes a lot cheaper if you buy a data bundle. In general coverage is good except the more rural parts of the northern and northwestern parts of the country (especially Northern Cape).

Phone

See also International Telephone Calls

South Africa's country code is 27. Telephone numbers in South Africa are 10 digits, including the local area code. There are also some prefixes like 0800 (toll free), 0860 (charged as local call) and 0861 (flat-rate calls). The general emergency number is 10111, ambulance is 10177 and police is 1011.

South Africa has very good phone facilities, which are also becoming more and more competitively priced, now that more operators are active on the market. The main ones are Neotel and Telkom South Africa. Local phone calls are cheap (about one Rand an hour), domestic long-distance calls are about twice as expensive. International calls start at around 6 Rand an hour but can be (much) higher to less usual countries. Note that public phones are about twice as cheap as new private phone centres. Phone calls tend to be the cheapest during the weekend and during business hours (8:00am to 5:00pm) on weekdays and more expensive during the evening and nights at weekdays.

There are also good mobile-phone facilities, with GSM and 3G networks. There are five cell phone providers in South Africa: Vodacom, MTN, Cell-C, Virgin Mobile and 8ta. SIM card prepaid starter kits are available from R10. You will need a passport and a proof of residential address and it has to be registered before you can call or receive calls. You can buy credit for prepaid phones just about everywhere, remembering you will usually need cash to do so from service stations.

Post

The SAPO (South African Post Office) is the nation's postal service. They have a track & trace system for parcels as well. Post offices are open from 8:30am to 4:30pm from Monday to Friday, and 8:00am to noon on Saturdays. Domestic and international deliveries are reliable but can sometimes take up to several weeks. If you want to send something oversees of any value, try using one of the private mail services, like Postnet. Also international courier companies like TNT, UPS and DHL tend to be fast, very reliable and competitively priced.

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This is version 13. Last edited at 7:05 on Oct 16, 13 by Utrecht. 2 articles link to this page.

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