Known as the Town of Two Summers for its benevolent climate, Phalaborwa is a town with a spectacular past. Around 2,000 million years ago a gigantic volcanic eruption took place in the area. A volcanic pipe some 10 km in diameter resulted, richly loaded with minerals and metals such as phosphate, copper, zirconium, vermiculite, iron, mica and gold.
Today Phalaborwa supports a vast mining industry, including one of the world's largest open-cast mines supplying vital minerals to the country. The "Big Hole", the planet's largest man-made hole and visible from space, can be viewed daily from a special lookout point. A guided tour of the mine takes place every Friday at 09h00 (booking is essential: +27 (0)15 789 2024).
Phalaborwa is also a major gateway into the Kruger National Park. You can arrange activities such as morning walks and evening bush braais from the gate, even when you are not staying in the Park.
A substantial town has developed around the mine, with a range of amenities. Here you can find many of the national chain stores including Pick'n'Pay and Woolworths (sadly not carrying their excellent food range at this time). It is also a good place to source those more difficult requirements, with a wider range of outlets than, say, Hoedspruit. There are doctors, dentists and pharmacies here.
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A visit to the Amarula Lapa is a good use of time; you can see how the eponymous liqueur is made and consume a sample or two. Also worthwhile is the Jumbo Safaris River Tour which takes you alongside the Kruger National Park for sundowners.
Microlighting is possible from the airstrip, and you can watch elephants wandering through the private grounds of the mine as you fly over the Big Hole.
Getting here & orientation
There are frequent flights from Johannesburg into a delightful new bush-themed airport.
REAL TIME INFORMATION
Due to the presence of the mine and its associated businesses, Phalaborwa enjoys more flights a day. Unlike Hoedspruit Airport, arrivals and departures are not focused on Lodge change-overs for tourism visitors, so you are less restricted in the time of day you can fly.
The Phalaborwa gate to the Kruger is on the right hand side of the map where the national R71 road changes into the H9 National Park road.