Thomas Baines, well-known explorer, naturalist and painter, tells a fascinating story of how the Nyl River received its name. Known to the locals as Mokgalakwena ('fierce crocodile'), the north-flowing river was mistakenly believed to be the Nile by a group of Voortrekkers known as the Jerusalemgangers ('Jerusalem Travellers'), who arrived here in 1886.
They believed if they travelled long and far enough, they would find the Holy Land and a pyramid-shaped hill nearby strengthened their conviction that they had crossed Africa and reached Egypt. The village of Nylstroom was laid out on a farm in February 1866. Today the town of Nylstroom has been renamed Modimolle after the prominent hill close by which the locals regard as their holy mountain (Modimolle meaning ‘god has devoured’).
The town is the commercial centre of the Waterberg Region and is famous for its export grapes and soft fruits such as peaches and watermelons. Other important products are cattle, game, peanuts and maize.
The pleasant climate with hot summers and moderate winters makes Modimolle a yearround holiday destination, a mere one-and-ahalf hours' drive from Johannesburg on the N1 to Zimbabwe. The route from Bela-Bela to Modimolle along the 101 route offers both an alternative to the toll road and exceptional scenery.