Stilfontein, Southern Region

Stilfontein, meaning 'still fountain', lies between Klerksdorp and Potchefstroom, roughly 130 kilometres from Johannesburg. Stilfontein is essentially a mining town that forms part of what is known as the KOSH area (Klerksdorp, Orkney, Stilfontein, Hartebeestfontein) - a group of gold mining towns. Stilfontein seems to function as the town in which most people who work on the mines of Hartebeestfontein, Buffelsfontein and Stilfontein live. But it is also close to the university of Potchefstroom.

That was until a totally unprecedented earthquake shook the area in 2005, damaging not only buildings in Stilfontein, but the mines as well. A visit to the town is an ideal way to find out more about gold mining in the country. Both Hartebeestfontein and Stilfontein provide fascinating tours, including being able to see how gold is poured.

Stilfontein is also on another tourist route known as the N12 Treasure route, covering the central part of the North West Province and including all the mining 'dorps' or towns along the N12 and N14 - Carletonville, Fochville, Orkney...some would say, that this is where the 'character' of South Africa is hidden.

And when the mine tours are complete and you have satisfied all curiousity as to how gold is poured, then Klerksdorp is worth a visit (they even have an online 'city guide') where you can go down a mine shaft, visit the Klerksdorp Museum, the Faan Meintjies Nature Reserve, walk the Oudorp hiking trail or visit the Klerksdorp Dam just outside of town.

Note: if travelling to Cape Town, take the alternative route on the N12, via Potchefstroom, Klerksdorp and Kimberley - what better way to see the mining towns and a different side of the story.

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