To quote the words of the famous South African writer, Herman Charles Bosman: “There is no other place I know that is so heavy with atmosphere, so strangely and darkly impregnated with that stuff of life that bears the authentic stamp of South Africa”. Do these words not also awaken in you a sense of anticipation and excitement at the thought of visiting the Great Marico?
The town was formed as a Voortrekker settlement in the 1850s. Today, the acknowledged home of mampoer (traditional alcoholic beverage distilled from fruit), it lies at the heart of a mixed farming district brimming with atmosphere and historical charm. While still adhering firmly to their traditions, inspiration and innovation have not passed these people by. The production of kikuyu lawns are a new and growing industry that has found a market in Botswana.
Adventure And Sport
Fishing: The Kromellenboog Dam offers fishing for day visitors. The dam has no facilities.
4×4 Trails: The trails at Draaifontein and Kleinfontein both offer overnight accommodation and truly blesses the hiker with generous views of the beauty of the Marico Valley.
Hiking Trails: Guided hiking trails such as the Enzelberg (40 km north-west of Groot Marico) and Langkloof trails criss-cross the Marico Bushveld. Overnight accommodation is available for those who would like to stay over.
Riekertsdam Cave: If you are into adventure with a difference, an overnight stay in the Riekertsdam Cave will probably tickle your fancy. Ablution facilities are available and you will have a beautiful view of the dam.
Water sport: The Marico Bushveld Dam is situated on the Groot Marico River. It is surrounded by a scenic nature reserve. The dam provides irrigation water to a large farming region. Water sport enthusiasts often frequent the dam and sunset cruises are a popular attraction, especially the ones where you can appreciate the scenery and the glass of mampoer in your hand.
Archaeology And Palaeontology
Fossils: Fascinating examples of animal fossils are found in several dolomite caves in the area. Visitors are strongly advised, for safety reasons, to visit the fossil sites in the company of an accredited guide.
Gaditshwene Ruins: The Gaditshwene Ruins date back to the Iron Age and provide insight into the lives of the early Bahurutswe (Tswana) people. Gaditshwene means “at the place of the baboons”. Carbon dating suggests that Gaditshwene was already a settlement some 1 000 years ago. The settlement was situated on the highest hill in the area and a stone wall surrounded each hut. The interiors of the huts were decorated with clay sculptures and paintings. It is believed that at one time some 20 000 people called Gaditshwene home. The inhabitants of Gaditshwene became famous for their iron and copper mining and smelting skills. The settlement was destroyed during heavy intertribal fighting at the time of the Mfecane (“Crushing”) in the 18th century.
Art And Crafts
The Art Factory: This venue hosts art workshops on a regular basis. Many artists have stated that they were inspired to great levels of creativity by the tranquil surroundings.
Afrikaner Cuisine: The local Information Office will be able to supply visitors with details of tours to farms in the area. Some of these tours will afford you the opportunity of enjoying traditional ‘boerekos’ (traditional Afrikaner cuisine).
Mampoer tours: Tours to the Mampoer farms in the Groot Marico area are considered a major attraction. Mampoer (sometimes also referred to as ‘moonshine’), a traditional homemade brew, is distilled from fruit. The alcoholic content of this drink is of mind-blowing proportions. Talks are regularly given on the origin of this alcoholic beverage. It is however the taste on the tongue that will probably leave a lasting impression. Distilleries, such as the Marico Valley Distillery, Syfergat Farm and the M & M Mampoer Farm, have a large variety of mampoer and liqueur flavours for sale. Appointments to visit the distilleries should be made in advance. Further information about Mampoer tours can be obtained from the local Information Office.
Tswana Cuisine: The Tswana people at the Kortkloof Cultural Village offer visitors an opportunity to sample traditional Tswana food.
Herman Charles Bosman Literary Society: Readings with the Herman Charles Bosman Literary Society are not only culturally stimulating but also very entertaining. Monthly meetings are held at different venues. There is always ample mampoer and Jerepigo a drink similar to mampoer) to go around.
Bosman festivals are held twice yearly and feature plays based on his stories. Bosman’s writings brought the world and the people of the Groot Marico to the attention of the rest of the nation. Some of the older inhabitants still remember him and their opinions of him vary sharply. Some believe that he portrayed Afrikaners as a backward people, while others prefer to argue that his stories showed compassion with the Afrikaner people.
Kortkloof Cultural Village: The Kortkloof Cultural Village is part of the Traditional Village Tour and is situated 14 km from town. This Tswana Village was not developed specifically with tourism purposes in mind and visitors will thus be able to see how “real” people live and work. The people are friendly and hospitable and, if arrangements are made well in advance, visitors can be taken on tours of the homesteads and offered traditional meals. The village is a mixture of old and new, featuring traditional mud houses, tin shacks and corrugated iron shacks. The Tswana people will also entertain you with traditional dances.
Fauna And Flora
Bird watching: The second largest number of species of birds per area (second only to KwaZulu-Natal) is found in the Groot Marico region. Some 430 species of birds have been recorded. The plant life in the area is equally fascinating and includes more than two hundred species of indigenous trees.
Driefontein Wilderness Area Game Farm: The Driefontein Wilderness Area (game farm) is home to different species of antelope, giraffe, zebra etc. Visitors can overnight in chalets or in one of the two bush camps.
Fascination Nature Reserve: The Fascination Nature Reserve offers game viewing of different species of antelope. Self-catering accommodation in wooden chalets is available.
Scenic Drives: Drives along Driefontein, Twyfelspoort and Straatdrif offer breathtaking views of the Marico Valley.
History And Architecture
Marico Ramble: On the first weekend of each month, the rural town on the banks of the Marico river invites visitors to take part in the Marico Ramble. The ramble route is well organised and visitors receive a numbered map as a passport to all the venues and attractions. Prepare to stay over for at least two nights to truly appreciate the experience.