Polokwane

by Peter Baxter  

The dusty little northern city, previously known as Pietersburg, is the capital of Limpopo Province, and the gateway to the north. As a tourist destination there is not a great deal on offer, with the hinterland being known primarily as an excellent hunting area, and from an urban perspective a somewhat uninteresting destination. Polokwane services a vast farming hinterland and to some extent the commercial needs of countries immediately to the north.

From a tourist perspective Polokwane services the northern gates of Kruger National Park. It occupies an important place in the mythology of white occupation and the Anglo/Boer War, and is also a center of diverse African culture.

For such an out of the way center Polokwane as a great selection of varied accommodation options, with travelers lodges, hotels, guest houses and game lodges.

Climate

Polokwane is situated more or less astride the Tropic of Capricorn, but being also at an altitude of 1230m above sea level, the potential for hot weather is tempered. Average summer temperatures hover around 21-22°C and the winter mercury falls to about 11°C in July. The general rainfall pattern are limited and climate is dry with summer rain and a dry winter. Average annual rainfall is 495mm.

When To Go

Since there is no real tourist industry, there is no busy period, and if you have to go to Polokwane then as with most of the country it is the winter season between May and August that is the most comfortable. However there is no prohibitive conditions at any time of the year, and any time is a good time.

Travel Warnings

Crime: Polokwane is not the crime capital of South Africa, but it shares the same general dangers of street crime and muggings as anywhere else in South Africa. Don’t be fooled by the small town atmosphere. Keep your wits about you and remember that South Africa is one of the most dangerous countries in the world. There are certain areas in Polokwane that are more dangerous than others, although nowhere is particularly safe on the streets after dark, so seek and follow local advice on the matter of crime and general safety wherever and with whomever you go.

  • Leave important documents in a safe place. All hotels, lodges and hostels offer safe lock up facilities
  • Seek safety advice from you hospitality establishment wherever you are
  • Avoid walking anywhere after dark, particularly in urban areas, and particularly in the CBD of any of the larger cities and towns
  • Don’t leave anything of value in your car overnight
  • Incidences of car hijackings in South Africa are high Always be aware of your surroundings, particularly at night
  • Don’t stop on any of the freeways for more than a few minutes, and in the instance of a breakdown, call for help
  • Health

    AIDS: Any kind of casual sexual encounter in South Africa, as with anywhere in the world these days, is to be discouraged. South Africa has one of the highest infection rates on the planet, about 1 in 4 of the population, so obviously extra caution is necessary when visiting any destination on the sub-continent.

    In most of South Africa tropical diseases are rare. While Durban enjoys a sub-tropical climate, incidences of malaria are rare, although there lots of mosquitoes about, and repellent is a must. As a matter of policy a course of anti-malarial drugs are advisable, particularly if you intend traveling furthernorth up the coast.

    Travel Doctor clinics are to be found in all the major centres where you can get health advice on malaria, yellow-fever, AIDS and any other tropical diseases, and acquire all the vaccinations and prophylactics necessary for your extended journey.
    Tap water is usually safe to drink.

    Sunburn risks are high so hats, long sleeved T-shirts and sun screen are a must.


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