North West Province DestinationsPotchefstroom, Southern Region
Lying on the banks of the Mooirivier (which means 'beautiful river' in Afrikaans) Potchefstroom, or Potch as it’s known to locals, is described as a large academic town, bringing to mind a pretty, tree-lined village teeming with students, which is slightly misleading.
Potchefstroom is indeed home to the popular North-West University, formerly known as the Potchefstroom University for Christian Higher Education, that does have a buzzing student life – the Bult, a series of restaurants and pubs, is testimony to this. It is also home to five tertiary institutions and some 30 schools. This combines with a strong farming economy, the country’s largest chalk factory, one of the largest organ factories in South Africa, and a generous hospitality sector, giving Potchefstroom a rather unique atmosphere, one that is welcome when compared with the frenetic pace of Johannesburg.
Potchefstroom was the first town north of the Vaal River and has a historical legacy that includes the largest oak tree avenue in the southern hemisphere and various national monuments like the old police station building, Heimat building, the magistrate’s office, the old gunpowder house and various churches worth visiting. The Edwardian City Hall, together with that of Krugersdorp, is the oldest existing city hall north of the Vaal River.
The OPM Prozesky bird sanctuary is home to 200 different bird species, Buffelsvlei Wild Animal park is definitely worth a visit, and a monthly art market in the City Council gardens provides interesting purchases. Potchefstroom’s Sanlam Auditorium, part of the university, serves both the city and neighbouring towns with high calibre theatre.