Phalaborwa is well known as a mining district with the largest man made hole on earth which can be seen from outer space and it also borders the Kruger National Park which makes it a perfect holiday destination with wilderness, bushveld, astronomy and history all on its doorstep.
Phalaborwa offers one of the most interesting and breathtaking astronomy tours where you can experience the African night sky through modern computerised telescopes. The moon, planets and many constellations are spectacular and this experience is a must while visiting Phalaborwa. You don't even have to be a golfer to appreciate this magnificent golfing experience at the Hans Merensky Golf Course which has been home to many championships. Here you will be accompanied by giraffe, hippo, crocodile and much more that nature has to offer while enjoying 18 holes. Also the Hans Merensky Nature Reserve which lies on the banks of the Great Letaba River is a beautiful reserve where you can relax in natures beauty or enjoy the hiking trails or game viewing drives. The Balule Private Game Reserve is located along the banks of the Olifants River between Phalaborwa and Hoedspruit which makes it a perfect holiday destination where you will get to go on game drives and view many animals such as elephant and hippo.
If you’re looking for a place to say your “I do’s”, then check out the Wedding Venues in Phalaborwa.
Phalaborwa enjoys hot summer months with occasional heavy rainfall. The winter months are warm which attracts many visitors during these months.
The area boasts a wide range of accommodation. For those who love wildlife, there are Bush Lodges in Phalaborwa. If you’re simply a sleep and go type of person, then there is either Self Catering Accommodation in Phalaborwa or Bed and Breakfast Accommodation in Phalaborwa.
For the golf enthusiast, you can go and stay at one of the Golf Estates in Phalaborwa.
Called "the town of two summers" because it never gets really cold in this town of mild winters and hot summers. Summer rainfall produces lush vegetation and subtropical gardens.
Phalaborwa is less than two minutes drive from the central gate to the Kruger National Park, the world's most famous nature reserve. Phalaborwa offers a range of opportunities to view wildlife. Sunrise or Sunset Wilderness Trails, day or night safaris including the extremely popular bushbraai, are offered daily from the Kruger Gate. A River Safari down the Olifants River offers a 3-hour game viewing meander.
Created by the discovery of immense mineral deposits, Phalaborwa was established in 1958 and supports a vast mining industry, supplying vital minerals to the country.
Phalaborwa boasts one of the world's largest open-cast mines. It is here that most of South Africa's copper is mined, in a somewhat remarkable way - the open pit is 450 m deep, measuring nearly 2 km in diameter and, being the world's deepest open-cast mine with the tallest headgear, has become a unique tourist attraction. A visit to the viewpoint is a must, as is the mine museum, located in the first house built in Phalaborwa.
What makes it particularly interesting is that where the big hole is now, was once a notable saddle-backed hill called Loolekop. Famous geologist Hans Merensky in 1938 found valuable minerals in this kop and hence it has been mined away.
The profusion of minerals in the area is attributed to a series of volcanic eruptions 2 000 million years ago. The cone of the eruption has vanished, but the pipe, an astonishing geological feature, remains. The pipe is 19 km2 in area and is filled to an unknown depth with minerals such as phosphates, copper zirconium, vermiculite, mica and gold.
The copper deposits found here were as attractive to the early inhabitants as they are to us and all over the area evidence has been found of mining and smelting activities. Sotho tribes first settled in the area bounded by the Olifants and Letaba Rivers and mined copper and iron from 400 AD. In 1980 an excavation uncovered a large ironsmelting site, complete with furnace. This is now an exhibit at Masorini, a reconstructed Iron Age village in the Kruger National Park. About 150 years ago some African prospectors found the pipe and began mining copper and iron. They named the place Phalaborwa that means "better than the south", it being better for them here than in the southern fever-ridden areas. They called themselves the BaPhalaborwa people and specialised in iron production. Their knowledge of mining and processing was passed on from father to son. It was regarded a tribal secret and nobody was allowed at the site, not even the women of the tribe. Iron became so important to these people that it replaced cattle in lobola transactions.
The BaPhalaborwa were followed by European prospectors at the beginning of the century. They also discovered the extraordinary variety and richness of the mineral content of the pipe. Today the tradition of the ancient tribes lives on in the large-scale mining of phosphates, copper and other minerals. Sealene kop and Kgopolwe kop in the area have great cultural significance as chiefs of the Phalaborwa tribe are buried here.
The town council of Phalaborwa hopes to add another reason to visit the area: a local business group wants to develop a North Sotho cultural village. Their ancestors are some of those very ancient copper smelters who left many traces for archaeologists to find. They want to include other cultural groups who have links to the region such as the Shangaan and the Afrikaners.
Phalaborwa offers superb sporting facilities. To compensate for the ruggedness of having to live in this dry area with its searing hot summers, the mining community was given a luxurious country club with nearly every facility imaginable. There are air-conditioned squash courts, floodlit tennis courts, bowling greens, an Olympic size swimming pool and a picturesque angling dam. The traditional African thatch roof of the main clubhouse epitomises the essence of the bushveld, but what is most remarkable is the constant stream of wildlife through the grounds.
The Hans Merensky Country Club is renowned for its superb 18-hole golf course and majestic layout that makes it one of the top twenty golf courses in the country. The Kruger National Park stretches along the entire length of the club's eastern boundary, resulting in animals gate-crashing the property. Sharing greens and fairways with wildlife makes this club one of the most unique golfing experiences in the world!
Three scheduled flights from Johannesburg International Airport, as well as daily bus routes, make Phalaborwa easily accessible. Car hire facilities, as well as taxis and transfer services offer transportation in and around outlying lodges. Self-drive options through the Strydom Tunnel or via Magoebaskloof allow the visitor to fully appreciate the beauty and diversity of the area.
Activities and Attractions:
Foskor Development Trust
An entrepreneurial training centre with an outlet at the Kruger Park gate for crafts created by the community. Woven carpets, pottery, woodcarvings, sheet metal work, beadwork, screen-printed fabric and other articles are for sale. Tel: (015) 789-2403
Foskor Mine Museum
A highly informative museum providing a historical perspective on mining and ancestral tribes of the area.
The Hans Merensky Country Club features one of the country's highest rated courses, designed by eminent designer Bob Grimsdell. Near the Kruger National Park, the two major annual golf tournaments are often visited by wildlife.
Kruger National Park
Phalaborwa is the only town offering night drives into the Kruger National Park. Entering through Phalaborwa Gate, this is an indispensable part of visiting the town. Tel: (015) 781-0027
The magic of the Bushveld is perhaps best seen from the seat of a microlight. Proceeds go towards anti-poaching initiatives.
Olifants River Sunset Cruises
Available down the Olifants. See the course of an ancient river and venture through its distinctly African environment.
Few will be left unimpressed by this excavation. At almost 2 km wide, it is considered the widest man-made hole in Africa.
Organises free escorted trips to townships Namakgale and Lulekani to see a variety of community projects. Tel: (015) 781-6320