Limpopo DestinationsPhalaborwa, Valley of the Olifants
That Phalaborwa never gets cold is something of a euphemism to describe the intense heat that can grip the modern, copper mining town, situated just 3 kilometres from the Kruger National Park, during summer in particular.
It does render the town of Phalaborwa a great place to stay during winter, however, and many tourists take advantage of the warm temperature for a winter sojourn, particularly with the lure of the Kruger just up the road.
Phalaborwa is the site of the ‘Big Hole’, the earth’s largest man-made hole, visible from space and pretty awe inspiring, even if you’re not impressed by mines in general. Mining and smelting of copper and iron ore date back to 400 AD when the Sotho called the area ‘Ba-Phalaborwa’, meaning ‘better than the south’.
And indeed, this part of the of the north eastern Lowveld is very beautiful but the ‘better’ part of the town’s name most definitely refers to the wealth generated by mineral deposits that today still support a thriving mining industry.
About 2000 million years ago, a series of volcanic eruptions left an astounding geological feature measuring 19 spare kilometres, filled with phosphates, copper iconium, vermiculite, mica and gold.
It is unsurprising then that a lot of the activities in Phalaborwa centre on mining - you can visit the Foskor Mine Museum, take a mine tour and visit the open cast mine, which will leave few visitors indifferent to the sheer width of the two kilometre diameter.
The Hans Merensky Country Club just happens to have one of the best golf courses in the country.