Visitors to the North West province during the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup and 2010 FIFA World Cup will miss out if they do not take a trip to one of the province's reserves, writes Kagiso Metswamere.
Known as the "Heritage Province", the North West is a rewarding holiday destination offering exciting wildlife and adventure encounters as well as the opportunity to participate in a rich cultural and historical heritage.
The province boasts the Pilanesberg National Park and the Madikwe Game Reserve, which are the biggest national reserves in the country.
The North West Parks and Tourism Board, a state-owned body, is responsible for 14 game parks and natural reserves in the province.
Speaking to BuaNews on Wednesday, Acting Chief Executive Officer of the North West Parks and Tourism Board, Allan Losaba explained that anyone who visited the province whether for the first time or not would not be disappointed.
The board has been working hard to upgrade and improve the parks for the past ten years, making them appeal to all tourists.
Most parks and reserves have done their own improvements in preparation for the thousands of visitors expected to descend on the province for the Confederations Cup and World Cup.
"We have beautiful parks in our province which already host international visitors. They have further prepared themselves by employing more staff, renovating infrastructure and other necessary preparations," he explained.
An example is the Madikwe Game Reserve which has a many lodges. It is currently the country's fourth largest game reserve and is a home to a bird population of over 250 different species.
Bordered by Botswana in the north, the spectacular Dwarsberg Mountains to the south, the Marico River to the east, the Tau Game Lodge within the Madikwe Game Reserve, overlooks a vast natural waterhole, which attracts a variety of game.
Marketing and Reservation Manager of Tau Game Lodge told BuaNews that the lodge was designed to reflect its natural surroundings and used natural resources wherever possible.
The lodge can accommodate 60 visitors, and up 40 percent of the customers are made up of foreign visitors.
"Our lodge is in good standard. We are ready to accommodate the visitors who will arrive in the provicne for the two main soccer events and show them the wonderful sides of the North West," she explained.
Another interesting game reserve, Thakadu River Camp is an eco-tourism partnership between the board and the Molatedi community.
Thakadu River Camp is set along the banks of the Marico River and consists of 12 tented suites, each with their own viewing deck overlooking the river.