Feeling the need to get out of town for a day we loaded cameras and set off in the trusty Hilux – destination Groot Marico in the North-West Province – known to many as the Mampoer capital of South Africa.
Mampoer is a fiery spirit indigenous to South Africa, generally distilled in a pot still from peaches although Maroela, Litchi and cherry varieties are available.
To get to Groot Marico one passes through little towns such as Magaliesberg, Boons, Koster and Swartruggens as well as what must be the most expensive toll plaza outside Swartruggens (R 75.00 each way). On arrival we had a pitstop at a Bushveld bar where we bought cold drinks then set off to find a nearby Boer War battlefield- to no avail, road changes had changed the terrain and we could not find the site of the memorial. Heading back to town we visited the tourist centre to get directions as well as stopping to explore the main street and take a few pictures. We then left town and located the battlefield site and finally got our pictures. Afterwards, we went back for lunch and fuel before exploring and taking more pictures. Before lunch, we visited the Jacob Zuma capture site near our lunch stop. The town takes its name from the Groot ( big) Marico river a perennial river on the outskirts. We did visit the river to take pictures of the rail bridge. The bushveld around the town is thick and the locals are extremely friendly. The town was put on the map by the writer Herman Charles Bosman who created the character “Oom Schalk Lourens” who featured in many of Bosman’s books and tales. In Marico Revisited Bosman spoke fondly of Groot Marico. There is no other place that is so heavy with atmosphere, so strangely and darkly impregnated with that stuff of life that bears the authentic stamp of South Africa. Groot Marico itself is a cultural attraction with much heritage. There are also numerous attractions such as game viewing, 4×4 routes and battlefield tours in the area. Incidentally, it was one of the last towns in South Africa to upgrade from a manual telephone exchange to an automated exchange, previously it was difficult to access internet but residents now have access and for visitors the LTE signal is great. The visit was a genuine South Africa experience to a small “dorp” with a great deal of character. Sadly time does not stand still and around 1500 we had to depart to the “big smoke” that is Jozi. Next trip not sure but it is around the corner.