Lap up the local heritage in the North West

Posted by Claire Allison on 16 August 2013

Travelling in South Africa is always a treat for the senses. Every province has its own look and feel, language and unique experience guaranteed to leave you feeling rejuvenated and inspired by this beautiful land.

The North West province is no different. Home to the famous Sun City resort this province is more than just that. Travelling from Johannesburg, one gets the feeling that they are entering ‘the real Africa’ as the landscape changes dramatically from the Hartebeespoort Dam and lush greenbelts to mine shafts, dry hills and barren horizons. But don’t let the bushveld fool you. Some of South Africa’s hidden treasure can be found here.

Local NGO, Open Africa and SAB Foundation launched the Segarona Heritage Experience here in 2012. This self-drive travel route (if you’re feeling really adventurous check out these ultimate 4×4 trails in the North West) approximately two hours’ drive from Johannesburg takes visitors around the northern half of the province and aims to promote and sustain responsible tourism by bringing travellers to the region to boost local businesses that need their support. The word ‘segarona’ is a seTswana word meaning heritage, which is fitting as the area is rich in Tswana culture and history.

Kids playing ludo outside spaza

Local kids play ludo outside spaza. Photo: Charl Pauw

The route encompasses the area’s natural rural beauty and takes travellers through local villages (watch out for cattle crossing the street!) and past two renowned game reserves. One of the most notable attractions along the route is the national heritage site of Kaditshwene, the Lost City of the Bahurutse, which was inhabited by about 20,000 people in the early 1800s. Due to its good preservation, Kaditshwene is a remarkable example of original African Tswana culture at its best and is comparable with the world famous Great Zimbabwe. Self-catering chalets and other accommodation is available at the site making it easy for travellers to spend their time soaking up the Tswana culture.

Birdlife in Groot Marico

Birdlife in Groot Marico. Photo: Charl Pauw

Famous for mampoer (moonshine) and renowned South Africa novelist Herman Charles Bosman, the nearby Groot Marico is a little gem in the middle of the bushveld. The drive along the platinum highway (N4) may not be the most scenic but it’s a great town from which to base your travels along the western part of the route.

Groot Marico Die Oog

Die Oog just outside of Groot Marico. Photo: Charl Pauw

A key attraction easily reached from Groot Marico is ‘The Eye’ (Die Oog), the source of the Great Marico River, which runs into the Limpopo River. This pristine spring is an oasis in the middle of the Highveld, approximately 17m deep with water so pure it is bottled at the source and sold commercially. Anyone keen on a spot of diving can dive into the underwater tunnels where water flows out at a staggering rate of 300,000 litres per hour.

Groot Marico has a range of accommodation types to suit any budget and guests can enjoy local hospitality at its best. The local pub at the entrance to town just off the N4 rustles up some fantastic steaks and burgers and the friendly staff create a warm, welcoming atmosphere making any traveller feel right at home.

Close by, the Marico Bushveld Dam, also known as Riekertsdam, is used extensively for water sports like fishing, skiing and sailing. The well-equipped caravan and camping ground makes a relaxing venue from which to watch the setting sun and rest weary bodies in preparation for another day on the road.

Lion in North West

Lion in North West. Photo: Charl Pauw

What would a trip to the North West be without a bit of game spotting? Travellers have a choice of two fantastic game parks, namely the Pilanesberg Game Reserve and the Madikwe Game Reserve. Big 5 spotting in these reserves couldn’t be easier and both are considered popular safari destinations. Madikwe is situated against the Botswana border, 90 km north of Zeerust and covers an area of approximately 75,000 hectares. It was established in 1991 with the purpose of not only protecting our invaluable natural wildlife, but also allowing local communities to benefit from conservation and tourism projects – travellers can rest assured that they’re supporting responsible tourism.

Madikwe, meaning “Africa in its majesty” is one of the largest game reserves in South Africa and guests have a choice of staying at one of 13 lodges on the perimeter of the reserve. Unfortunately the reserve doesn’t allow day visitors who aren’t pre-booked into one of these lodges so if you’re only planning to spend a day game viewing, you’re better off visiting Pilanesberg Game Reserve.

Pilanesberg Game Reserve

Pilanesberg Game Reserve. Photo: Charl Pauw

Pilanesberg’s crater of a long extinct volcano sets the scene for some fascinating landscapes. Formed by volcanic eruptions around 1300-million years ago, the Pilanesberg is one of the largest volcanic complexes of its kind in the world and spotting game such as lion, wildebeest, leopard, buffalo and elephant here is an experience to not to be forgotten.

The Segarona Heritage Experience guarantees travellers an authentic African bush experience in this lesser known province of South Africa. If you’re looking to mix a rustic holiday of exploration with a touch of luxury, this route is for you! Stop off at a roadside eatery for some shisa nyama and a beer with the locals before heading into the untamed luxury of the Madikwe Game Reserve and its lavish bush setting. You won’t be disappointed!

For more information about the Segarona Heritage Experience and other routes, visit www.openafrica.org and support responsible tourism.

 






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