Modimolle, Waterberg

Madimolle lies north east of Bela-Bela, roughly two hours from Johannesburg in the midst of the Waterberg.

Formerly known as Nylstroom the town's history is worth recounting as it makes a good fireside story. A particularly vehement group of Voortrekkers (emigrant pioneers, mainly Dutch, who left farms, primarily in the Eastern Cape, to seek greener pastures inland), known as the Jerusalem Trekkers, left the Cape Colony during the 1860s for the interior with one intent: to find the Holy Land.

A long trek at best, the group finally reached a stream close to what they mistook for a ruined pyramid and, convinced they had found the Nile, settled along its banks – some 10 000 kilometres short of their proposed destination.

The 'pyramid' turned out to be little more than a natural hillock that the locals called Modimolle (meaning: the forefather's spirit has eaten), and the river, which they called the Nyl, is a tributary of the Mogalakwena River.

The little mountain, also known as Kranskop, is regarded as holy by local people and is said to have inspired the architect Gerhard Moerdijk whilst designing the Voortrekker Monument in the city of Pretoria.

The Dutch Reformed church that the people of Nystroom then built in 1889, is now the oldest church in sub-Saharan Africa north of Pretoria.

Despite the rather incredible beginnings, Madimolle today functions as a major support town of the Waterberg Biosphere and the farming community of the area. Its wide streets and myriad shops form a gateway to the bushveld terrain of the Waterberg Biosphere.

Local nature reserves, game reserves and wilderness areas attract wildlife and nature lovers all year round, the clusters of trees and shrubs and the beauty of the Waterberg backdrop a perfect space for city dwellers to seek down time.

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