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My whirlwind week as a tourist

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My whirlwind week as a tourist
Cable crew

North West Tourism board in partnership with N12 treasure route (Potchefstroom) Bojanala Platinum District Municipality along with the department of Tourism extended an invitation to Botswana Trade Association and media to tour the North West Province.

The travelling team, which comprised of travel consultants representing various travel agents and local media (including yours truly), toured an assortment of facilities and engaged in diverse activities that were both informative and fun.

My whirlwind week as a tourist
Media and Travel Consultants

DAY 1

The journey kicked off with a tour of the Mafikeng Culinary School, an institution run as a fully-fledged operating hotel, complete with lodging, catering and bar facilities.

The school has graduated well-rounded hospitality experts, some of who are Batswana and have since been absorbed in reputable institutions across the country.

Then it was off to check out Mocoseng Sundown Resort on the outskirts of Mafikeng.

Mocoseng is an exquisite wedding venue with lush green gardens overlooking the Molopo River.

As expected, the team went into overdrive taking a mirage of pictures before setting off to the next spot, Dikwetlo Gardens Guest House.

Consisting of six cluster houses with luxurious amenities, it is the perfect spot for the business and family traveller.

Next on our agenda was a visit to the exotic Mmabatho Palms, formerly Mmabatho Sun, where a delectable finger foods lunch was prepared.

The hotel is indeed the town’s pride, with sprawling lawns and a combination of luxury suites and family rooms.

The hospitable staff were a delight, warm and friendly, in complete contrast to the dreary, drizzly weather.

One could not miss the two huge pools and a redone boma that extends the venue’s picturesque views and provides added entertainment areas, both indoor and out.

Apart from the casino, it is decked with a masterfully styled Moo bar to enjoy drinks and snacks.

As it was pouring with rain, the team could only imagine the Leopard Park 18 hole championship golf course adjacent to the hotel.

The skilfully constructed course boasts a superb Victorian styled clubhouse, featuring a bar, lounge, dining area and games room.

Driving through the downpour we headed to Stonehenge Africa Lodge, a riverside lodge conference and team building venue.

Following a late dinner everyone retired to bed.

DAY 2

River Rafting, a first for all. A long safety briefing ensued and then it was time to enter the raging current of the mighty Vaal River – an experience to behold and definitely not for the faint hearted.

The exhilarating encounter was not without scares as some lost control, ending in the chilly water but thankfully there were no serious injuries.

Then on the road again to Potchefstroom Info Centre, before heading to an exciting project the town is embarking on, an art gallery set in Ikageng Township.

The gallery offers a home for works by various artists while giving visitors a taste of the ‘kasi’.

My whirlwind week as a tourist
River rafting conquered

I was most impressed by the cleanliness of the area.

Keeping to the theme, we lunched at another impressive local bed and breakfast that was welcoming and homely before heading to the FNB High Performance Institute of Sport located on the Potchefstroom Campus of the North –West University.

The elite venue has become the preferred training ground for international, national and local sporting teams seeking excellent high-end facilities, altitude, sports medical and scientific services.

It has also hosted Botswana athletes over the years.

Then it was another long drive to Haartbeespoort Dam, ‘pass of the hartebeest’ (a species of antelope) in Afrikaans.

We check into the gorgeous La Dolce Vita and have the most beautiful dinner before retiring to cosy rooms with spa baths and the most delightful delicacies.

DAY 3

The Aerial Cable Way Haartbeespoort offers visitors panoramic views of the Haartbeespoort Dam and sprawling Magaliesberg mountains.

The top of the mountain boasts two restaurants and a walkway littered with plaques that offer pieces of history.

What a joy to read on Botswana and to learn how popular the site is with must see and do activities to be enjoyed by all.

The trip to the Lion Park was just as exciting as we got to see cheetahs, leopards, zebras, lions, giraffes, wild dogs and other animals close up.

My whirlwind week as a tourist
Playing with cubs at the Lion park

With a renewed spirit of boldness, I challenged myself to check out the snake park within the Chameleon Centre – a beehive of activity sprawling with wares of all kinds on sale.

To forget the sight of the slippery serpents we went on a relaxing boat cruise.

Though a lovely time was had, one cannot help but be saddened by the overgrown hyson plant that has covered a huge part of the dam and impacted the environment and business drastically.

The drive to our next stop, Rustenberg, is slightly sombre.

Everyone is locked in their thoughts, possibly marvelling at a day well spent or digesting all the information shared.

We check into Kgwaswane Country Lodge.

DAY 4

Boasting spectacular views of the Magaliesberg Mountains and captivating beauty of the Kgwaswane Nature Reserve, Kgwaswane Country Lodge is simply stunning.

We leave for Rustenburg Kloof, a resort that offers campsites, chalets and conference facilities.

Apart from the impressive facilities, it is the huge avocado trees that dominate interest.

After all they don’t come cheap in Botswana. One wonders how come we don’t grow avos?

Then we had lunch at Getz Guest House in Phokeng, a unique venue that has been kept relatively simply to attract the fuss-free traveller seeking a tranquil setting with very little noise.

It was the trip to The Royal Marang that had us mesmerised.

Themed to capture the 2010 Football World Cup mania the hotel offers top-notch amenities fit for royalty.

Within the property is the world class training facility that was briefly home to the England team.

My whirlwind week as a tourist
Suncity attractions

We then depart for Pilanesburg National Park.

The fascinating game reserve is situated in the economically rich transition zone between the Kalahari and the lowveld.

There is a wide variety of accommodation available to suit one’s needs.

In an open viewing truck we go in search of big game. We are confronted by the brutality of poaching as we are shown carcasses of a rhino and its young killed for their horns, which can fetch thousands of dollars on the black market.

Soon it is all laughter under the African sun as we get to enjoy a scrumptious dinner prepared in our honour at Kemonate Boma in the heart of the bush.

We head to overnight in Sun City – The Cascades Hotel.

The lap of luxury and access to wifi is most welcome.

DAY 5

The 5-star Cascades hotel is named for the waterfalls and calming pools that trickle throughout the property.

We tour the endless facilities and are overwhelmed by the countless activities and numerous venues that cater for events of a business and social nature.

It is no wonder it attracts visitors from all over the world.

Rather reluctantly we depart for Zeerust, where we lunch before heading towards Gaborone.

Exhausted but truly enlightened it was an experience to behold and share.

LEARNINGS

– Check weather to aid one’s packing

– Pack reading material to survive the long drives

– Invest in a power bank to avoid running out of battery

– Be open minded to new experiences

– Capture the moments and share with others

– Believe, search and find some of the most stunning places within reach