Phalaborwa is situated in the Limpopo Province, South Africa.

This small modern town is situated only 2 km from the world famous Kruger National Park, close to the Letabe Rest Camp which is approximately midway between the northern and southern parts of the Park.

The Park is a huge attraction to tourists, but this town has more to offer and visitors from all over the globe enjoy this all year round warm destination. Winters here are only on average about 6˚C lower than in summer, making this a very popular winter holiday destination in South Africa. The Eastern Lowveld is beautiful and many safari tour operators are waiting to show visitors incredible scenic views from boat cruises along the Olifants River to exciting wildlife sightings.

Phalaborwa owes its’ existence to the Ba-Phalaborwa Tribe as they began the mining of metals in the area hundreds of years ago. It is the mining of copper, iron, phosphate and vermiculite that now forms the economic base of the town. The town was originally name after the tribe and means “better than the south”. The tribe still lives in the Greater Phalaborwa area with many of their cultures and traditions still alive for visitors to learn about. Cultural tours have become popular and guests are always eager to meet the Sangoma or sample Marula Beer and Mopani worms.

Foskor Mine ensures that wildlife and cultural tours are not all there is to see, so be sure to visit the “Big Hole” viewpoint. Details on this awe inspiring 2 km wide opencast mine can be found at the Foskor Mine Museum, don’t forget to find out about the tour of the mine as well!

Accommodation is provided in form of luxury hotels, private game lodges, B & B’s, Guesthouses, backpackers’ accommodation, camping and caravan sites.

Places to Visit

Things to do and see

Climate

Phalaborwa experiences rainfall mainly in the summer months with the highest occurring between November and February.

Summer months, October to March will experience average temperatures of between 18˚C to 31˚C. 

Winter months, May to August, will bring temperatures down to between 8˚C and 24˚C.

Transport

There are daily flights from Johannesburg into the Hendrik van Eck Airport in Phalaborwa. Car rental companies are available for easy access to the surrounding areas. Road trips from Johannesburg via the N12 and N4 will take approximately five and a half hours.

Festivals

February - Marula Festival: A week-long festival which includes a golf challenge, half marathon and open air music concert, plus much more – well worth a visit.

History

Many, many, years ago a volcanic eruption surged through the rock of the lowveld. The pipe or throat of the eruption, an astonishing geological feature, remains. On the surface the pipe is 19 square kilometers in area and is filled to an unknown depth with minerals such as phosphates, copper, zirconium, vermiculite, iron, mica and gold.

About 180 years ago a party of African prospectors, said to have come from Musina (Messina), found the pipe and began mining copper and iron. They named the place Ba-Phalaborwa (Phalaborwa), 'better than the south', meaning that it was healthier than the fever ridden areas in the south. At the beginning of this century European prospectors also discovered the extraordinary variety and richness of the mineral content of the pipe. Dr. Hans Merensky, the famed geologist, started mining vermiculite from the pipe in 1938.

Phospate production began in 1952 when Foskor (Phospate Development Corporation) was created by the government in order to make South Africa independent of phosphate imports.

The town of Ba-Phalaborwa (Phalaborwa) was created in 1957 as a centre for this concentrated assortment of mines. 

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