North West Province's Bophirima Region
Bophirima is the western region of the North West province. Situated 1200 metres above sea level, the climate is dry and healthy, particularly in winter when the days are sunny and bracing. The summers are hot and the annual average rainfall is 430mm.
Mostly Kalahari thornveld, it is dominated by huge cattle ranches. By far South Africa’s largest producer of beef, the region boasts the largest herds of Herefords in the world.
Enlightened hunting concessions have made Bophirima a popular destination for big game and wildlife trophy hunters. The vast expanse of African savannah is home to a variety of game, and privately owned game reserves include lion, buffalo and rhino.
The principal town in Bophirima is Vryburg (freedom town). Tourist attractions include the Leon Taljaardt Nature Reserve (white rhino, buffalo, wildebeest and zebra), the eclectic museum in the town hall and the nearby Swartfontein Resort.
Bophirima was previously known as Stellaland (star land). Its history is a rich tapestry that includes the importance of the region to international philatelists in search of some of the most sought after postage stamps in the world.
Archaeologically, it is the location of one of the world’s most famous fossil discoveries.
Stellaland, founded in 1882 as an independent republic, was always regarded as a roughneck region, dominated by frontier characters such as the legendary Scotty Smith – a convicted army deserter, gun runner, horse thief, smuggler and First World War spy. Whilst it had its own flag, coat of arms and Volksraad (parliament), the most lasting impression of the Stellaland republic is its pen-cancelled postage stamps – which are extremely rare and highly valued in the world of philately.
A museum on the farm Armoedsvlakte (poverty plains) near Vryburg marks where Sir Arnold Theiler, veterinary scientist and founder of the world-renowned veterinary research institute of Onderstepoort, started his work on animal diseases.
One of the world’s most famous fossils was discovered in a lime quarry at Taung (place of the lion) in the Bophirima region of the North West in 1924. The skull of the Taung child (Australopithecus africanus) proved the "missing link" between man and ape.
Accommodation in the Bophirima region ranges from country hotels and guest farms to safari camps, game lodges, and bed and breakfast cottages and farmhouses.