Cape Town - If you asked any South African about attractions and things to do in the North West province, the standard response would probably involve Sun City… and very little else.
However, the North West Department of Tourism has committed to changing this misconception by raising more awareness about what the province has to offer.
The South African Government News Agency reports that during a two-day provincial meeting held earlier this week, the province has set its sights on becoming a destination of choice among tourists.
Various stakeholders were invited to interact and form partnerships that would help sustain tourism growth.
Tourism MEC Desbo Mohono said that the government was looking to partner with traditional authorities, the private sector and public sector entities to add growth momentum to the North West's tourism economy.
Acting Head of NW Department Charles Ndabeni said one of the challenges the tourism fraternity is faced with is infrastructural development in villages, townships and small dorpies.
He mentioned the improvement of roads, technology and communication specifically. SA Express recently launched flights into both Pilanesberg and Mafikeng Airports, a move which is expected to be a game changer for tourism to the province.
SA Express will fly into the Pilanesberg from OR Tambo International Airport three times a week on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, and from Cape Town International Airport twice a week on Mondays and Fridays. Return flights from the Pilanesberg to Johannesburg are also on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, and to Cape Town on Mondays and Fridays.
Cape Town to Pilanesberg flights will cost R3 000 return (including all taxes and levies) and from Johannesburg R2 200 return (including all taxes and levies).
It's first commercial flights to the Pilanesberg are scheduled for Wednesday, 1 April 2015 and bookings for flights are already open.
In the meantime, here are 5 cool things to do and places to check out:
Pilanesberg Game Reserve
Enjoy a Big 5 safari in a malaria free zone. Accommodation in Pilanesberg is of a high-standard, featuring mainly 4- and 5-star luxury private game lodges. However, there are also rest camps offering caravaning and camping options, suited for a smaller budget.
Madikwe Game Reserve
Madikwe is one of the largest game reserves in South Africa and, like Pilanesberg, also malaria free. It has 16 luxury lodges and is unfortunately not open to day visitors.
Magaliesberg Canopy Tour
This unique eco-adventure features 11 platforms and 10 slides, which are up to 140m long and 30m above the ground, takes you on a journey through the ecology and geology of the second oldest mountain range in the world - estimated to be 2 400 million years old.
Hot Air Ballooning
The wide open spaces and skies of the North West province provide the perfect backdrop for a magical ballooning experience. There are various operators working in the area, offering a bird's eye view of the lush bushveld.
The recently refurbished Harties Cableway offers visitors a breathtaking 360 degree view of the Hartebeespoort dam, Magaliesberg and surrounds from the longest mono-cableway in Africa. Apart from the ride itself there is loads to do at the base as well as the summit, including the informative Dassie Loop walkway and a fun KidZone, as well as restaurants and food stalls with picturesque seating areas. It's the perfect day outing for the whole family to enjoy.