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North West

The North West province is home to 2 premier game reserves housing the Big 5, the Vredefort Dome World Heritage Site, the Taung Heritage Site, The Lost City and Valley of the Waves playground, a variety of adventure-sport destinations and an underwater cave-diving experience.

For the most part, South Africa's North West province is a vast grassland dotted with trees and views that stretch to distant horizons. It contains 2 of the country's largest game reserves, the world's largest playground and a World Heritage Site.

The Magaliesberg mountain range occupies the province's north-east corner, while the mighty Vaal River creates a natural boundary to the south.

It was here in 1924 that the skull of an early hominid was unearthed by Professor Raymond Dart at the Taung Heritage Site, and it was in the North West province that a colossal meteorite impacted with the Earth to form the Vredefort Dome; today a World Heritage Site.

North West's capital, Mafikeng, is most famous for the 1899 Siege of Mafikeng during the Anglo-Boer War, and the founding of the Boy Scout movement. A visit to the Mafikeng Museum, Kanon Kopje and the Barolong Boora Tshidi Kgotla will help fit the historical puzzle pieces in place.

Its inland location and extensive grasslands provide the perfect setting for a number of malaria-free wildlife reserves. These include Madikwe, South Africa's fourth-largest game reserve, and the Pilanesberg National Park, both home to the Big 5 and many more southern African mammals and birds.

Magaliesberg, Hartbeespoort and Pilanesberg are popular weekend getaway spots where paragliding, windsurfing, water skiing and jet skiing attract thrill-seekers. Then there's Wondergat, an extensive underwater cave network where many divers have honed their skills.

Standing proudly incongruent to this rustic scene is Sun City, the world's largest playground, and The Lost City, an African-inspired architectural masterpiece. From the swells at the Valley of the Waves and the greens of the exceptional golf course to the massive casino and entertainment complex, this is an awe-inspiring place in which to wile away the hours.

How to get there:

The North West province has air and rail links with all major South African cities. It is also easy to drive there from neighbouring provinces.

The road network is extensive and well-maintained, so driving yourself around is easy. Alternatively, opt for a guided tour by bus or mini-van.

Best time to visit:

Summer are very hot, winters mild to cool. But all the seasons have something to recommend them in this part of the country.

Where to stay:

The region offers a full range of accomodation from backpackers and B&B's to hotels and guest houses.

What to eat:

Enjoy traditional South African cuisine.

What's happening:

Vredefort Dome World Heritage Site; Taung Heritage Site; Wondergat; Magaliesberg; Hartbeespoort Dam; Pilanesberg National Park; Madikwe Game Reserve; The Lost City; Sun City

Who to contact:

North-West Tourism Authority

Tel: + 27 (0) 18 397 1500_x000D_

Fax: + 27 (0) 18 397 1660

Email: info@tourismnorthwest.co.za

Madikwe Game Reserve

Tel: + 27 (0) 18 350 9931/2

Fax: +27 (0) 18 350 9933

Email: madikweadmin@telkomsa.net

Pilanesberg National Park

Tel: + 27 (0) 14 555 1600

Fax: +27 (0) 14 555 5525

Email: pilanesberg@nwptb.co.za