Stunning bushveld environment and a multi-cultural community and history give Mokopane a
unique character. The town and immediate surroundings boast fascinating ancient caves, the
Big Five, San rock art, curios, typically bushveld food and drink such as biltong (dried
meat) and mampoer (a potent drink), tropical gardens and traditional dancing.
The area is rich in minerals, platinum, diamonds and granite. In the adjacent rural area
of Mahwereleng traditional lifestyles are still maintained. Mokopane also offers a
wonderful selection of outdoor activities ranging from hiking, camping and 4x4 trails, to
birding, angling and game viewing.
Just two hours from Gauteng, the town acts as the perfect getaway destination and the
ideal stopover for travellers en route to Botswana, Zimbabwe and the Kruger National Park.
Mokopane serves a rich agricultural area in which wheat, tobacco, cotton, beef, maize,
peanuts and citrus are farmed.
The Zebediela Citrus estate, 55 km to the south east, is one of the biggest citrus farms
in the southern hemisphere. The bushveld vegetation of the area features many acacia trees
and aloes which are at their best in June and July.
The town is named after Chief Mokopane, chief of the Tlou tribe (Ndebele (also known as
Makapan)) in the 1850s and was previously known as Potgietersrus after the Voortrekker
leader Piet Potgieter who was fatally wounded during the campaign against Makapan in 1854.
One of the most notable archaeological and historical sites in the country is found at
Makapan’s Valley, 15 km north of the town. The sediments, fossils, bones and artifacts
found in the caves in the valley preserve a unique record of hominid habitation and
evolution dating back 3,3 million years.
The valley which has stood at the frontier of palaeontological and archaeological research
for much of the twentieth century has been declared a National Heritage Site.
Visits to the fascinating Makapans Valley must be arranged in advance by contacting the
Mogalakwena Bushveld Community Tourism Association. The Arend Dieperink Museum contains a
valuable cultural historical collection of Sotho and Voortrekker artefacts and is housed
in a graceful stone building originally built as a school.
The museum portrays the history of the town and surroundings from the time of the ape-men
at Makapan’s Cave, right through to the Anglo Boer War and recent times. Mampoer and fresh
bread are available on request. There are various game and nature reserves in the area.
The Game Breeding Centre of the National Zoological Gardens of Pretoria features exotic
and indigenous animals and offers the perfect family outing. Guided tours and game drives
are available in the reserve that hosts black rhinoceros as well as a large variety of
other game species.
The Percy Fyfe Nature Reserve situated approximately midway between Polokwane and Mokopane
is a breeding station for protected species like roan, tsessebe and Addo buffalo. Camping
and hiking is permitted in the reserve. The Doorndraaidam Nature Reserve provides
opportunity for angling, water-sports, hiking, camping, bird-watching and off-roading.
Hiking, 4x4 trails and camping can also be enjoyed at Thabaphaswa, ‘the black and white
mountain’, where the Mashashane Dancers frequently perform.
The Skeurkrans Trails are equally popular. Botanists will be fascinated by a group of Ana
trees (Acacia Albida) 16 km from the town on the Steilloop-Marken road. Apart from their
botanical significance, in that the trees are a rarity in the area north of the Waterberg
Mountains, it is said that David Livingstone used to camp under this cluster of trees.
Visitors with an artistic bent will find much to enjoy. At the Johann Koch Art Gallery in
town, the well-known wildlife artist can be met and his latest works viewed. Art workshops
at the Mabothe River Camp in the Waterberg Mountains offer a variety of practical art
Sue’s Homenet Village accommodates arts, crafts, a restaurant and coffee shop, and is the
venue for the annual Kierieklapper Arts Festival in August. At Create-a-Craft where
training and manufacturing takes place, curios can be purchased. Midway Ceramics, 20 km
north of Mokopane on the old road to Polokwane, is open to the public on weekdays.
Here all pots are handmade using clay from the local quarry. Visitors can design their own
pots and wall murals and clay tiles are made on request. Browse through the shop or visit
the on-site factory and watch the locals work their magic. Various tours in and around
Mokopane can be arranged to gain insight into the economic activities of the area.
Visit the Mokopane Platinum Mine or the Klipspringer Diamond Mine. Tours can be arranged
through the Tourism Association.