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North West (South Africa)

Travel Guide Africa South Africa North West

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Introduction

African Wild Dogs meet White Rhino

African Wild Dogs meet White Rhino

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The North West is a province in South Africa, located in the central north of the country, bordering Botswana. It has some fantastic landscapes, including parks like Pilanesberg and Madikwe.
For more information, go to North West Province Tourism.

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Cities

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Sights and Activities

North West Province is an adventurer's paradise, offering the World’s Longest Zip Slide, Canopy Tours, Rock Climbing, and a number of Water Sports from canoeing to windsurfing.
People who like killing things will appreciate the hunting and fishing opportunities, and gamblers won't be able to get enough of Sun City.
Naturalists will be unable to resist the Birding, Game Viewing (Safaris), and Hot Air Balloon rides that will show you the dazzling landscape.
Not to be missed highlights for any traveler are:

Pilanesberg National Park

This small national park (around 580 square kilometers) is located just a few hours of driving northwest from Johannesburg and Pretoria near Sun City and despite the fact that it is small, there are huge numbers of animals. It is a park which is somehow undervalued but for no apparent reason. The park is centred around a crater of a long extinct volcano and Pilanesberg is one of the largest volcanic complexes of its kind in the world, with rare rock types and structures making it a unique geological landmark. The park has enormous numbers of both birds and mammals, and although for some mammals this wouldn't have been their national habitat, numbers have been introduced here in the 1970's and have been growing ever since. Lions, elephants, white and black rhinos, buffaloes, leopards, zebras, hyenas, giraffes, hippos and crocodiles are all present, but not in the numbers you would find in Kruger National Park. On the other hand, you can visit most of the park in 1 or 2 days, so densities are almost comparable.
Have a look at the official Pilanesberg Game Reserve website for more information.

Madikwe National Park

The Madikwe National Park is an off the beaten track park in the central north of the country. In the north the border of the park forms the border with Botswana. Despite the fact that is might not be known to the general public, it is the 5th largest park in South Africa and is regarded as one of the better conservation areas in Africa. It offers all the major species, including lion, leopard, elephant, buffalo, both white and black rhino (Big Five) along with almost all the regular antelope species on these plains. The park can be reached by a short drive from Pilanesberg National Park (see above) via a good gravel road. You can also take a longer route along tarmac roads, approaching the park from the south instead of the east. From Johannesburg and Pretoria it is roughly a 4-hour drive.
It is quite a luxurious place to stay and you need to arrange accommodation before you arrive (you can not drive in the park yourself!). These usually include fullboard and a couple of game drives and sometimes a minimum stay of 2 nights is required (which is actually the minimum to enjoy a stay anyway). There is only one relatively affordable accommodation but prices are already around $175 a night! For more information check the official Madikwe Game Reserve website.

Other sights and activities

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Events and Festivals

World Cup 2010

The big upcoming event on the South African horizon is of course the FIFA World Cup beginning on the 11th of June 2010. One of the most prestigious and popular world sporting events, the World Cup 2010 promises to bring throngs of passionate supporters from around the globe. Held once every four years, it's a football tournament (known as soccer in South Africa) where 32 world nations vie for the famous golden trophy.

Rustenburg will be hosting some of the World Cup matches at the Royal Bafokeng Stadium, which has a capacity of 42,000.

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Education

The Province is proud of its two universities:

  • University of North West - in Mmabatho, founded in 1979 but previously known as the University of Bophuthatswana.
  • Potchefstroom University for Christian Higher Education - since 1869 but did not become an independent university until 1951.

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Weather

The weather generally is warm and dry, with hot summers when temperatures can rise over 40 °C. Most of the rainshowers also fall during the warmer summers, while from May to September it is generally dry with clear blue skies.

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Getting There

By Plane

The most convenient airport to the southern part of the province is OR Tambo International Airport. Travelers to the northern part of the province may wish to fly into Sir Seretse Khama International Airport. Be sure to note that the latter is in Gaborone, the capital of Botswana.

By Train

Currently there are no trains going to or from the North West Province.

By Bus

Several interstate bus lines run into North West, mostly to Rustenburg, notably Greyhound, and Intercape.

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Getting Around

By Car

If you would like to travel around by car, there are numerous car rental companies available from the airports and downtown locations. Just make sure that you have sufficient insurance to cover you if the need arises. Some of them offer the possibility to reduce excess (the amount you pay when involved in an accident) for a daily fee. Car hire companies include Avis, Imperial, CABS, First Car Rental as well as many other international and local ones. Usually, the local ones are cheaper but don't have the same standard as the international ones, which have more branches throughout the country and therefore are able to help you more quickly if needed.

If travelling by car, be sure to plan your routes carefully to insure that there are sufficient places to fill the tank with petrol as some towns are located quite a distance apart with no filling stations in between. It's a good idea to fill up with fuel when you have about half a tank left if possible.

By Boat

There will be plenty of boating of various sorts on Hartbeespoort Dam, but it's not a very practical mode of transportation.

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Sleep

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This is version 10. Last edited at 14:04 on Sep 12, 10 by Utrecht. 9 articles link to this page.

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