Maybe one of the most exciting developments in the tourism history of South Africa has been fleshed out largely unnoticed by everyone except those who were directly involved with the project. The Department of Agriculture Conservation Environment and Tourism, the North West Parks and Tourism Board, the Bojanala Platinum District Municipality, the Central District Municipality, the Moses Kotane Local Municipality and the Zeerust Local Municipalities have committed to the project and have undertaken to jointly facilitate the development of the Heritage Park Project.
In what will surely prove to be good news to both local and overseas nature tourists, we have the phased creation of what promises to become a world-class nature destination. It will be fantastic to be able to "hop over" to the Heritage Park just next door to Egoli, the economic powerhouse of Africa. To be close to nature with a feeling and atmosphere that only the rural African landscape, teaming with game, can convey.
While this may sound very pie-in-the-sky, the project is actually standing securely with both feet planted firmly in two existing, proven nature tourism successes. These successes are the exclusive Madikwe Game Reserve and the very popular Pilanesberg National Park. What the Heritage Park will do, is to simply join these two success stories by filling up the space between them to form another super-large big five game and nature park comparable to the best in the world!
Although the welding together of these two entities will definitely not be easy due to the fact that the land in between them belongs to different land-owners, the land is uninhabited and is mainly used for marginal cattle farming which makes it easier to convert the land to nature-based tourism. The private sector has already incorporated land at both Pilanesberg and Madikwe and almost 20,000 hectare is already being prepared for potential incorporation.
Another group of people waiting anxiously to welcome you in their midst are the friendly members of the different communities who will be your hosts every time you visit the area. Have a look at what this initiative will bring to them, the community members of this, one of the poorest areas in the country. Like most projects of this magnitude, the Heritage Park project in the North West Province will be completed in different phases, with Phase 1 already started.
Phase 1 will cover a five-year period and will extend the boundaries of the two parks towards each other. During Phase 2, the extended pak boundaries will be integrated with the Breeding Node, with the possible extension into Botswana as Phase 3. Luckily, we don't have to wait until Phase 1 is completed to visit the Heritage Park, there are already some private operations going in the area.