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South Africa

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Groot Marico, Central District, North West Province

Groot Marico is a little town in the North West Province of South Africa that will take you back in time to a slower, gentler, more real way of life, if you let it…if you stop to gossip on a ’stoep’ and have all evening to simply sit and listen to locals’ stories and drink some mampoer with them.

So it is said where-ever you read about this little town, rather oddly called ‘Big Marico’ – though that is for the Groot Marico River that runs through it.

To put it simply, it’s tiny (really, really tiny), a bit dusty, there is the odd mule wandering around, there are rusty things, tractors and farmers who define the Afrikaans way of life and who are famed for both their hospitality and master story-telling.

Like any such town in South Africa, there are also the artists and other ‘Seekers’ who have fled soul-less urbanity for the soulful simple life of the countryside.

Artists love it, writers love it and journalists get excited about it. Groot Marico was originally made famous by South African writer Herman Charles Bosman, who lived in Groot Marico as a young man in the 1920’s after accepting a teaching position there. It was while living here that he modeled a character on a local, calling him Oom (Uncle) Schalk Lourens and produced a series of books of short stories that illustrated the lives and culture of the local Afrikaner people – and Groot Marico became both known and rather interesting to the South African public as Bosman became more famous.

Bosman’s works can be experienced at the HC Bosman Living Museum – where a typical event reads like this: “to start at 19h00 at the HC  Bosman Terrain in Groot Marico – The dance will be in the voorkamer (lounge) with  konsertina (concertina) music , the peach brandy (mampoer moonshine) in the kombuis (kitchen), the food at the fire and the Oom Schalk Lourens story – “The Music Maker“…”

That was from a festival programme in 2008 … just the other day…yaaa boet…

Time it seems has forgotten Groot Marico more or less where it was when Bosman lived here…more or less. Depends on how much moonshine you have had, who brewed it, and how strong it is. So it is said.

Nearby attractions include The Eye of Marico – a 17 meter deep pool of water that is so pure and so fresh you can see all the way to bottom of a water-lilly underwater jungle – a favourite place for freshwater free and scuba-diving, and the Marico Bushveld Dam – also known as Riekertsdam, which is a great place for watersports (bring own equipment) camping and caravaning. There are also walks, hikes and 4×4 trails in the Groot Marico area.

In Groot Marico, the works of well known South African sculptor Johann Moolman can be viewed by appointment: moolmanart@gmail.com

There could be few better ways to get a really authentic experience of ‘Mampoer Country’ and its people than a stop at a Mampoer Farm, which can be organised at the Info Centre in Groot Marico. Here you will also find the Art Factory (a small shop where you can buy local arts and crafts) and all the local ‘in the know info’ on what to do around Groot Marico and where – from swimming at The Eye of Marico to game farms, hunting and hiking trails in the bushveld surrounding Marico.

Getting there: Groot Marico is about 2 – 2.5 hrs drive from Johannesburg on the N4 west, en-route to Zeerust and the Madikwe Game Reserve, only half an hour from Zeerust.


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