Home to the fantastic Pilanesberg and Madikwe game reserves, North West province offers up the big five, fantastic bird-life and wide-open African skies.

The area boasts archaeological discoveries that go back to the beginnings of humankind, as well as the world-famous Sun City hotel complex, creatively dedicated to ancient lost civilizations and modern-day pleasures.

The province extends all the way from Gauteng to the Botswana border. The area is flanked by the Magaliesberg and the Kalahari Desert. North West has a population of just over three million people.

Summer brings hot, sunny days (temperatures in the region of around 22 to 34 degrees centigrade); winters are relatively warm during daylight hours, however the evenings can get somewhat chilly (temperatures range from 15 to 22 degrees centigrade).

Close to Gauteng, the North West province is a quick and easy escape from the big city, boasting superb accommodation options and a wide variety of sightseeing activities.

  Sun City

Sun City, the premier entertainment resort of southern Africa, lies in the bowl of an extinct volcano in the Bushveld of South Africa’s North West Province. While it offers many attractions, it is renowned for hosting the annual Nedbank Golf Challenge.

Sun City has 4 hotels with distinct features, ensuring no one is left out in the cold. These range from the family friendly 3-star Cabanas to the luxurious 5-star plus Palace of the Lost City, which is listed as a member of The Leading Hotels of the World.

There are fine restaurants and dining areas at all these facilities, and across the complex. The resort also houses some of the best conference and exhibition facilities in the Southern Hemisphere. These cater for anything from 20 to 6 000 delegates.

Umbrellas, sand and towels give a distinct beach feel to Sun City’s Valley of the Waves. Incorporated into this area are five exhilarating waterfall rides. Here, adrenaline junkies head for the Temple of Courage with its 233 foot drop.

If that is not enough, then there is the world’s longest, highest foefie (zip) slide.

  Pilanesberg National Park

Pilanesberg is a well-loved game park, within an unusual setting.

Just over a billion years ago, this was a site of superheated lava, overflowing magma and boiling rock.

Of course, you’d never know as you drove around in the park. The ancient volcanic crater, about 27 km across, collapsed and a billion years of erosion means it is now only visible from space.

A Big Five reserve (with elephants, lions, buffaloes, leopard and rhinos), the Pilanesberg National Park is only 2 hours’ drive from Johannesburg. Some of the other animals that roam the park include wild dogs (alternately known as Cape hunting dogs), brown hyena, and sable antelope.

Another attraction, especially for families with children, is that Pilanesberg is malaria-free.

Activities include game drives, either self-driven or guided, game walks and birding. Don’t forget that Sun City, with its entertainment centre and casino, is close by. Also ask about balloon safaris.

Photographs and information © South African Tourism