Groot Marico, named after the Marico River, is a wild and wonderful town, where historic wars have been fought, South African moonshine is produced, water sports, hiking, camping and hiking are the order of the day, and time is optional.
The fascinating little town is a two-hour drive from the Gauteng border with the North West province, and is a useful stop for travellers on their way to Madikwe Game Reserve or Botswana. Populated by down-to-earth and hospitable people, the town’s economy relies upon mining, agriculture and tourism.
Besides having the perfect climate and terrain for farming cattle, maize and citrus fruit, and quarries for mining various rock, Groot Marico produces one product that many find more interesting.
The town is famous for its mampoer, a South African version of moonshine, which is made from fruit and has a frighteningly high alcohol content (although some maintain it is still quite tasty). For guests who wish to see how mampoer is made, there are tours in the area, but however interesting the process might be, you probably shouldn’t try it at home.
If traditional Afrikaner alcohol isn’t really your thing, the area also offers various physical activities. There are several nature hikes that allow you to experience the typical African bushveld up-close and personal, while cyclists gather in Groot Marico once a year for the annual Marico Mountain Bike Classic.
The Marico Bushveld Dam (also known as Riekertsdam) is a popular spot for various water sports such as sailing, skiing and fishing (fishing enthusiasts also have the option of other nearby dams along the Marico River that provide good fishing).
Although people typically think of scuba diving as a seaside sport, the Eye of Marico dam with its clear, pure water and other-worldly terrain offers an enchanting scuba experience.
Groot Marico is also a good place to get to know a bit about South African culture and history. Most notably, it was one of the places where the famous South African writer,Herman Charles Bosman, set many of his stories. He summed up his attachment to the town thus: ‘There is no other place I know that is so heavy with atmosphere, so strangely and darkly impregnated with that stuff of life that bears the authentic stamp of South Africa.’ The culturally curious might like to visit the Herman Charles Bosman Festival, held every year in October
As well as being ‘Bosman territory’, Groot Marico was also the site of some Anglo-Boer War (also known as the South African War) battles – a cemetery on Wonderfontein farm still holds graves where some British soldiers were buried. Visitors who have a penchant for history can indulge their lust for learning on battlefield tours in the area.
The town is renowned for its artistic flair; there are several artists in the village, as well as shops and activities that revolve around art and creativity. The tourism centre is home to several shops selling curios, crafts and local creations, and the Art Factory’s products include leatherwork, ironwork, pottery and paintings.
If enjoying the creativity of others lights a spark in your own artful heart, a visit to the Café Verre Glass Studio will enrich your soul. At Café Verre, visitors are given the opportunity to create their own works of art in the medium of glass, mosaic and stained glass.
Accommodation in the town is plentiful and varied, with everything from guest houses and B&Bs to genuine farmstead accommodation, and camping and caravan sites.
Book your seat to attend the Responsible Tourism Seminar at Sustainability Week in June
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