Modimolle means "a place of spirits" named after a Modimollle Mountain visible from the N1. The Municipality is situated south-east of the Waterberg District Municipality.
Modimolle (formerly known as Nylstroom) is a town located near the southern edge of the Waterberg Massif in Limpopo province, South Africa. It is a medium-sized town that focuses primarily on agriculture and farming (citrus, grapes and cattle) as well as wildlife and tourism. Modimolle is located approximately 135 km north of Pretoria.
The Waterberg Biosphere spreading north, a UNESCO designated Biosphere Reserve, contains approximately 15.000 km2. Waterberg is the first region in the northern part of South Africa to be named as a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO.
The extensive rock formation was shaped by hundreds of millions of years of riverine erosion to yield diverse bluff and butte landform. The ecosystem can be characterised as a dry deciduous forest or Bushveld.
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 year-round holiday destination, a mere one and a half 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.