Taung and its attractions

by Media Xpose

Brand Taung Tourism was founded by Bahedile Dichaba, a trained and registered tourist guide who is also a director of Ghaapview Adventures. He was inspired by his love for tourism to create a Facebook page to make tourism information about Taung more easily accessible to all, since little is known about Taung and what it has to offer.

Taung is small town situated about 139km north of Kimberly and about 248km southwest of Mahikeng, along the N18. It is a predominantly rural, with more than 106 registered villages. It is not clear when the town was founded, but it seems to have started during the era of the construction of the Cape to Cairo railway line.

Taung villages form a big part of the Greater Taung local municipality, in the Dr Ruth S Mompati district of the North West province. All its villages fall under the traditional leadership of chiefs, ruling the Batlhaping tribe. Taung is made up of three main chieftaincies (tribal authorities), namely Batlhaping Ba Ga Phuduhucwana (central), Batlhaping Ba Ga Mothibi (south) and Batlhaping Ba Ga Maidi (east). The Batlhaping tribe is an off-shoot of the Barolong tribe, and it is for this reason that they share Tholo (Kudu) as their totem.

The key economic driver of the area is farming, both subsistence and commercial, in animal production and crop production. It is supported by retail and government. The level of literacy is moderate. The population is around 200, 000. The general behaviour of the people of Taung can be classified as “laid back” and warm. Taung people are always eager to welcome visitors in the area.

Taung as a tourist destination

The discovery of the Taung Child Skull fossil in 1924, in the Buxton quarries, gave rise to the site being declared a World Heritage site in 2005. This lead to a process of identifying other hidden gems to add to the Taung Child Skull Fossil site. These sites were incorporated into the Taung Heritage Route by the tourism industry in 2009. The route was launched at the Durban Tourism Indaba in 2014.

Taung Heritage Route

This route consists of six main attractions that can be found all over Taung and each tribal authority boasts at least one attraction:

  1. Taung Skull World Heritage site
  2. Thomeng Tufa
  3. Taung Dam
  4. Dinkgwaneng San Rock-Art site
  5. Kgosi Galeshewe Memorial site
  6. The Vaalharts Irrigation Scheme

There are other attractions that can be visited in addition to these main ones, including the offices of the three tribal authorities in their respective locations, Reivilo golf course, Old Reivilo town, and the Boipelo township in Reivilo.

Taung Skull World Heritage Site

This is the iconic attraction upon which the route was founded. The discovery of the Taung Child Skull fossil gave the world ‘Africa’s gift to the study of man’s origin’. It was in these quarries in 1924, that during drilling and blasting a human-like child skull was discovered. The discovery supported Charles Darwin’s theory that “if human ancestry line could be traced it would lead us back to the apes”.

The discovery also gave the scientific fraternity a genus called australopithecine and led to many other discoveries, including Mrs Ples, Australopithecus Sediba, Karabo and many more on the African continent.

The Taung Child Skull site has more to offer, including academic tours, mining tours, camping and bird watching.

Thomeng Tufa

Thomeng Tufa is affectionately known as ‘small heaven’ to both local and visitors from afar. It derives its name from the water that seeps from the limestone (Tufa) that is about 15m high and 300m wide. It is a common belief that this water possesses some healing properties and thus attracts people from near and far. The name Thomeng is a Tswana word for garlic.

Thomeng Tufa is one of the few places in South Africa where one can witness the process of fossilization taking place, continuously growing the limestone.

Thomeng Tufa has become a popular picnic spot during the festive season. People flock here in their droves for those that want to enjoy the scenery the plateau offers.

Taung Dam

Taung Dam is a tranquil escape from a busy life. It is located at the deepest part of the Kolong River, also known as Harts River, and was built in the early 80s.

It is home to freshwater goldfish, and fishing can take place on a catch-and-release basis.

It is also a beautiful picnic spot and offers braai facilities. Recently, it has also started to attract a different kind of leisure seeker; those that enjoy water sports.

Dinkgwaneng San Rock-Art site

Dinkgwaneng is a cultural site situated 35 minutes’ drive northeast of Taung on the Kolong River. It is rich in San rock-art engravings, ranging from the depiction of animals to symbols that are not easily identified.

It also offers ample space for bush camping and other outdoor activities. Hiking enthusiasts can follow the monkey trails as there are no graded hiking trails.

Kgosi Galeshewe Memorial site

Kgosi Galeshewe is remembered as an exceptional historical figure in the history of the Batlhaping tribe. He was one of the first political prisoners taken to Robbin Island. This was as a result of his resistance to the land dispossession campaign waged by the English on Batlhaping during the diamond rush era which led to war with many lives cost on both sides.

Kgosi Galeshewe was eventually caught and arrested. After his death, a township in Kimberley was formed and named after him.

A tomb of remembrance was erected at a site of the ancient village of Magaga-A-Phiri in Magagong.

The Vaalharts Irrigation Scheme

This is one of the largest arable man-made irrigation scheme in the Southern Hemisphere. It was conceptualized after the First World War as a poverty alleviation scheme for the ex-combatants of the war around 1910 and implemented in 1935.

The irrigation scheme gets its water from the Vaal River through a channel system that helps gravitate the water to cultivated lands. It has provided a lot of low income jobs for many people through the years, until agricultural automation came in.

Taung as a filming destination

September 2020 saw the production of a corporate video – Filming Destination NW Tourism promoting Taung as a filming destination.

Medium of communication

Vaaltar FM is a local community radio station which is used to promote and market Taung and its attractions as a heritage destination.

Compiled by Bahedile Dichaba, Ghaapview Adventures for Brand Taung Tourism.

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