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Diving in the North-West of South Africa

While South Africa may be surrounded by oceans, some of its most exciting diving occurs inland. In the North-West Province, training opportunities abound in sink holes, lakes and former mines.

Diving in the North-West of South Africa

Quick facts

While most people come to South Africa to dive in oceans and with terrific sharks, some of the best technical diving occurs further inland, in the North-West Province. Here divers have their pick of three dive sites, all uniquely challenging.

First, Miracle Waters is a former open-cast chrome mine located just outside of Brits. At 4920 feet (1500 meters) above sea level, the clear spring water that has filled the mine is popular with divers of all levels because of the training opportunities it presents. In addition to being an altitude dive, the area offers the chance to become certified in a non-stressful environment. It also has advanced and technical elements for those wishing to further their education. Don’t expect to be bored in the water. There are several navigable items scattered throughout the site, including a bus, helicopter, airplane and computer station.

Marico Oog, a scenic, spring-filled watering hole near Zeerust/Lichtenburg, is a favorite among local divers. The 52-foot (16-meter) deep site offers crystal clear water and abundant plant life, such as the stems of water lilies that create an underwater maze. This site is particularly useful as a night diving training area. However, good buoyancy control is imperative. If the bottom layer of silt is turned up, visibility can plummet to less than 3 feet (1 meter). If you plan to dive in Marico Oog, you must bring your own gear with you as there is no diving facility in the area.

Finally, Wondergat is a natural dolomite sinkhole that is reserved for advanced and technical divers only. The altitude dive drops to 230 feet (70 meters) and includes several caves. As an added bonus, the sinkhole is home to interesting rock formations called stramatalites which take the form of wagonwheel-like formations. Diving services are available in the area, but be warned, the site requires a hike up and down 35 irregular steps carrying a full kit.

Scuba diving in the North-West province of South Africa is possible year-round. However, expect cooler temperatures during the winter season (June-August). Water temperatures can range from 77 to 84°F (25 to 29°C). If you want to advance to a new level in your scuba diving adventure or are looking for something a little different during a dive trip to South Africa, the unique dive sites of the North-West territory are your answer.

When to go

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What to see

When diving in the North-West Province, don’t expect coral reefs and tropical fish. This is inland, fresh water diving. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t interesting. In addition to verdant underwater scenes and caves filled with stramatalites, you will be amazed by the variety of fish. Barbell, southern mouthbrooder, sharp tooth catfish, shrimps, crabs, black bass and kruper are all common. In addition, Wondergat hosts its own endemic species, the banded tilapia and at Marico Oog, you might find fresh water eels. These species and more are sure to add some unique entries into the wildlife section of your log books.


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The North-West Province is the gateway between Botswana and South Africa. Just west of Gauteng and near Johannesburg, this province is a favorite among wildlife-lovers arriving in South Africa to find the big 5. The historically important Mahikeng is the capital of this province, although most visitors are more enchanted by the area’s natural surrounds than its history.

As an important battle ground during the Second Boer War, the North-West Province has always been a part of South African history. However, the area took a second seat to South Africa’s more modern history. While South Africa may have a troubled past, the nation has made huge leaps and bounds with the help of the former president, Nelson Mandela. The country’s struggle with apartheid has brought everyone in the nation closer together, as a rule, though tensions can still run high. These tensions can occasionally be seen in the North-West Province, which was formed after the end of apartheid. It was the location of political violence in 2006 and 2007 when some municipalities were transferred under the North-West Province’s control. Today this violence has died down and the municipalities in question have been transferred elsewhere.

In addition to its historical importance, the North-West Province is also economically powerful. The economy is mainly mining in nature. Here you will find the largest platinum mine in the world. Gold, uranium and diamonds are also extracted from the province. In addition, some of the biggest cattle herds in the world can be found in the North-West Province, earning it the nickname “Texas of South Africa.” Fascinating geographically, economically and historically, the North-West Province of South Africa is worth checking out.

Other attractions

The North-West Province is adventure central. Here you will find a variety of wildlife parks including Ukutula Lion Park, Pilanesberg National Park and Madikwe Nature Reserve. These offer unforgettable safaris and amazing African encounters. In addition, you might wish to go skydiving, zip lining or on a hot air balloon ride with a local outfit. There are plenty of cultural sightseeing opportunities as well, like hut stays and village visits. And if you’d rather stay in, there are casinos and indoor swimming pools to suit everyone’s needs. We’re sure, there won’t be a dull moment during your visit to the North-West Province.

Getting there

Both Pilanesberg/Sun City Airport and Mmabatho/Mafikeng Airport welcome South African domestic flights. It is also possible to reach the North-West Province by bus from Johannesburg. If you have your own transportation, the N12, the N14 and the N4 highways connect this province with other parts of South Africa.


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Note - Travel to any destination may be adversely affected by conditions including (but not limited) to security, entry and exit requirements, health conditions, local laws and culture, natural disasters and climate. Regardless of your destination, check your local travel advisory board or department for travel advice about that location when planning your trip and again shortly before you leave.

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