West into the Bushveld. From Gauteng | 595km

Palace of the Lost CityPalace of the Lost City

RUSTENBURG

The first Voortrekker farmers settled in the Rustenburg area in 1841, following the defeat of Mzilikazi and the Ndebele during a punitive expedition two years earlier. The third-oldest town north of the Vaal River, the settlement was proclaimed in 1851 and named Rustenburg, meaning 'town of rest'. Its growth accelerated after Dr Hans Merensky discovered a seam of platinum-bearing rock near here in 1925. Today Rustenburg is an important centre for the nearby mines producing platinum-group metals and chromite, as well as an agricultural district known for its citrus fruit, tobacco, sunflower seed, maize and beef production.

Places of interest for the historically minded on South African holidays include the Anglican Church(1871), Dutch Reformed Church (1903) and a replica of the stump of a seringa tree under which the Gerevormeerde Church was founded in February 1859. Also of interest is the Hervormde Church Square, where the divided Voortrekker leaders Andries Potgieter and Andries Pretorius were reconciled in 1852. West of the town is Boekenhoutsfontein farm, where Paul Kruger lived from 1873 until his election as President of the Zuid-Afrikaansche Republiek (ZAR) in 1883. A complex of farm buildings is now a museum.

RUSTENBURG NATURE RESERVE

...covers 4 257 ha of the Magaliesberg on the southwestern outskirts of the town. It is home to a variety of antelope, including sable, kudu, black wildebeest, red hartebeest, blesbok, springbok and reedbuck, as well as Burchell's zebra. Among the more than 230 bird species recorded to date are Cape vulture, martial eagle, 11 chat and thrush species, Meyer's parrot and the striking lilacbreasted roller. Facilities for visitors include an information centre, interpretive trail and an overnight hiking trail.

SUN CITY & LOST CITY

It was the vision of one man - hotel and casino magnate Sol Kerzner - that transformed a tract of African bush into an internationally famous resort for guests on South African holidays. The focal point of the Sun City complex is the magnificent Palace of the Lost City, conceived as a mythical kingdom destroyed by an earthquake and 'lost' until its rediscovery in 1991. Attractions of the Lost City include the Valley of Waves, which features a wave pool, 13 waterfalls, numerous cascades and a water slide with a 97-m drop. In addition to the Palace Hotel, there are three other hotels and a wide range of entertainment and recreational facilities. Among the other amenities are the Entertainment Centre (consisting of the Superbowl, slot machine area, restaurants and bars), a Casino, the Sun City Lake with a variety of water sports, and the Gary Player Country Club, famous for the annual Nedbank Million Dollar Golf Tournament.

PILANESBERG NATIONAL PARK

...is home to the Big Five, a rich diversity of other game and over 350 bird species. Covering 580 km2, Pilanesberg is home to one of the largest white rhino populations in the world, as well as sable, roan, kudu, blue wildebeest, gemsbok, springbok and impala, while hippo and crocodile inhabit the crater lake in the centre of the park. Other species to be seen on South African holidays include giraffe and Burchell's zebra, cheetah and brown hyaena. The park lies within one of the most fascinating geological areas in southern Africa: an alkaline complex produced by volcanic activity some 200 million years ago. There are nearly 200 km of game-viewing roads, numerous viewing points, picnic sites, hides and a walk-in aviary near the Manyane Gate. Accommodation ranges from three luxury lodges to chalets and campsites.

SWARTRUGGENS

Named after the distinctive black ridges in the area, the village of Swartruggens is a centre for the surrounding cattle, maize and tobacco farms. It was established on the farm Brakfontein in 1875.

GROOT MARICO

Were it not for mampoer and the writings of Herman Charles Bosman, Groot Marico would probably have remained a little-known backwater. Although the area was settled around 1845, the town was only established over a century later, in 1948, on the farm Wonderboom. Mampoer, a potent home-distilled spirit made from peaches and other soft fruit, is still produced in the district.

KLEINFONTEIN BATTLEFIELD

...is marked by a roadside memorial to the southwest of Groot Marico. By the end of 1900, the Boer strategy of guerrilla warfare was beginning to pay off, and the guerrillas of General Koos de la Rey had regained control over large areas of the southwestern Transvaal. On 24 October 1901 De la Rey's forces captured a British convoy, including 12 wagons of ammunition and many horses and mules.

ZEERUST

Zeerust, the main town of the Marico district, lies amid acacia bush in the valley of the Klein Marico River. It grew around the church built in 1867 on the farm of Casper Coetzee who, unfortunately, did not live to see the completion of the church. The town was named Coetzee Rust in his memory (later abbreviated to Zeerust), while the Tswana name, Sebatlani, means 'dusty place'. It is an important centre for the surrounding cattle ranches, as well as the chrome and lead mines in the area. Of interest in the town are the Church of St John the Baptist (1873), the third Anglican church built north of the Vaal River, and the Zeerust Museum, which portrays the district's history.

BATTLE OF MOSEGA

When the Voortrekkers began settling north of the Vaal River in 1836, the Ndebele chief, Mzilikazi, became alarmed. In August 1836 two Voortrekker parties were attacked, and a month later a large Ndebele force attacked the Boer laager at Vegkop. In January 1837, a punitive expedition consisting of 107 Voortrekkers, 40 Griquas and 60 Rolong captured Mosega, Mzilikazi's stronghold, killing 400 Ndebele and capturing 7 000 head of cattle.

MAFIKENG

Mafikeng, a Tswana name meaning 'place of rocks', was established by Sir Charles Warren as an administrative centre when Bechuanaland (modern-day Botswana) was annexed to the Cape. During the South African War, this frontier town grabbed world headlines when the British garrison, commanded by Colonel Robert Baden-Powell, was besieged by Boer forces in October 1899, a few days after the outbreak of war. The siege was only relieved 271 days later, after Lord Roberts broke through at Paardeberg. To the northwest of Mafikeng is Mmabatho, built as the capital of Bophuthatswana, a homeland that became 'independent' from South Africa in 1977 and was reintegrated in 1994.

Among Mafikeng's numerous historic sites are the cemetery, where British soldiers and members of the British South African Police killed in the siege were buried, Kanonkopjie with Warren's Fort, built in 1884, and the Mafikeng Club, which dates back to 1894. Other attractions include Maratiwa, the house where ANC founder member Sol Plaatjies wrote his account of the siege of Mafikeng, the site of his newspaper office and the Kgotla, tribal meeting place of the Barolong Boo-Ratshidi.

LICHTENBURG

...was founded in 1873 as a centre for the surrounding cattle farms. The town became the scene of a frantic diamond rush following the discovery of alluvial diamonds to the north in 1925. Although the frenzy died down after about ten years, claims are still being worked in the area. Today the town serves a prosperous agricultural area producing maize, sunflower seeds and groundnuts. Visitors on South African holidays can see various landmarks including the historic Dutch Reformed Church (1890), two memorials to the famous Boer General, Koos de la Rey, and the Gruisfontein Battlefield, where the Boers suffered heavy losses during the South African War.

The Ampie Bosman Cultural History Museum, Andries Beyers Agricultural Museum, Lichtenburg Museum and the collection of paintings by South African artists in the William Annandale Art Gallery are among the town's other attractions. Just north of the town is the 6 000-ha game-breeding centre of the National Zoological Gardens in Pretoria, and some 25 km northwest of the town the diamond diggings at Bakerville can be seen.

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