Monday, December 6, 2021

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Weekend getaways near Johannesburg

If you’re in the mood for a weekend break, take a look through this list of great weekend getaways not too far from Johannesburg.

There’s a healthy spatter of game viewing destinations, a woodland wonderland, a couple of farm retreats, trout fishing havens and even an ox-wagon camp. We’ve included locations to cater for everything from a romantic trip for two to beds in bulk for families and friends. There’s something for everyone wanting to get away from the city for a quick break.

Please check with them before travelling.

1. Manyane Resort, Pilanesberg

Travel time from Joburg city centre: 2 hours 40 minutes

Manyane resort

It might be a fraction of Kruger’s size, but at Pilanesberg Game Reserve, near Rustenburg, you stand a chance to see not only the Big Five but also rare species such as cheetah, wild dog and even brown hyena. While there’s a variety of accommodation options, Manyane Resort is ideal for families who love to camp. It’s large and has ample shade and power points, as well as a swimming pool, restaurant and small shop.

Contact: Tel 014 555 1000

2. Woodbush Forest Reserve, Magoebaskloof

Travel time from Joburg city centre: 4 hours

Woodbush Forest Reserve

You’d be forgiven for expecting to see Orlando Bloom in full, pointy-eared, Lord of the Rings regalia step out from behind the trees on a hike through Woodbush Forest Reserve in Magoebaskloof, near Haenertsburg. It’s a magical place and drinking from freshwater streams and cooling off under icy waterfalls are added bonuses in an already unforgettable hiking destination. The Dokolewa Waterfall Trail overnights at two of the area’s nicest huts: Waterfall Hut and Dokolewa Pools. The challenging 43-kilometre route goes through scenic plantations and indigenous forests. You have to be completely self-sufficient.

Contact: Tel 013 754 2724, email [email protected]

3. Phudufudu Tented Camp, Borakalalo Game Reserve

Travel time from Joburg city centre: 2 hours 40 minutes

Phudufudu Tented Camp

Borakalalo Game Reserve, translated as ‘where people go to relax’, is a lazy little provincial nature reserve near Brits and a great alternative to Pilanesberg. Don’t expect any mega wildlife sightings, but enjoy the complete lack of vehicle pile-ups when you stop to view resident herds of waterbuck, kudu and hippo instead. All you hear when you sit down and close your eyes in Phudufudu Tented Camp are birds. With just 10 safari tents, a communal kitchen and braai facilities, it’s ideal for a group getaway.

Contact: Tel 012 729 4101, email [email protected], www.parksnorthwest.co.za

4. Villa Paradiso, Hartbeespoort

Travel time from Joburg city centre: 1 hour

Villa Paradiso

Villa Paradiso sits in a lofty location, overlooking the town of Hartbeespoort and the Hartbeespoortdam. With most rooms boasting private balconies or access to the manicured gardens, there is a certain grandeur to the villa. it is a great base from which to explore the town of Hartbeespoort, which is big enough to be worth exploring for a couple of days, but small enough to feel like you’ve escaped from the rush of big city living. Visit Jasmyn Plaasprodukte farm stall – chocka-block with produce from local farmers, from fresh fruit and nuts to home-baked goods.

Contact: Tel 012 253 1847/8, www.villaparadiso.co.za

5. Big Creek Guest Lodge, Magaliesburg

Travel time from Joburg city centre: 1 hour 10 minutes

Big Creek Guest Lodge

Find Big Creek Guest Lodge in a valley facing the Magaliesburg Mountains. It is an hour from Johannesburg and the landscape varies from rough and rocky hills to a quiet stream under weeping willow trees. A rustic furnished lounge with DStv is available to those who enjoy their news and sport, a games room with a full-size snooker table, dartboard and bar, and a swimming pool set in a lovely garden with rolling lawns overlooking a small dam is the perfect place to unwind. Cyclists can enjoy both on and off-road with a spectacular mountain bike route over Breedts Nek Pass. Being in the heart of the Magalies Meander, there are many shopping and adventure activities from which to choose; game drives with the Big Five, microlight flights, gliders, canopy tours, hot-air ballooning and much more are available at your request.

Contact: Tel 014 577 0042, [email protected]

6. Monate Conservation Lodge, near Mookgophong

Travel time from Joburg city centre: 2 hours 20 minutes

Monate Conservation Lodge

If you’ve ever wanted to be spoilt rotten, Monate Conservation Lodge, near Mookgophong (formerly Naboomspruit), is the place for you. Between morning and evening game drives, gourmet meals are served with a flourish and a smile, and quiet, comfortable facilities help you to tune out the demands of city life. One part of the reserve is covered by Serengeti-like plains where zebra and giraffe are often obliging models for photos. Ask your guide to stop for sundowners under the massive marula tree at the edge of these plains. Don’t be surprised if you find it very hard to leave.

Contact: Tel 014 718 7000, email [email protected], www.monatelodge.com

7. Stone Tin Lodge, near Dullstroom

Travel time from Joburg city centre: 3 hours 30 minutes

Stone Tin Lodge

Sunlight streams in warming Stone Tin Lodge during the day and comes nightfall, a large central fireplace heats up the open-plan lounge, dining and kitchen area, which is tastefully decorated with pale wood finishings, navy fabrics and Nguni-skin rugs. Set on a private farm about 30 kilometres on the Lydenburg side of Dullstroom, this spacious three-bedroom country home overlooks two trout-filled dams surrounded by rolling hills and is completely off the grid, running primarily from solar energy and gas (there’s a generator too, just in case). Each room in this corrugated iron and stone retreat has a basket filled with thick blankets, an en-suite loo, and the main room has a gorgeous ball-and-claw bath. Throw a fishing line, look for blesbok, black wildebeest and zebra on an easy hike or if it’s really cold out, surf DStv, snuggle on the couch and take in a movie. The road is not suitable for low-slung sedans (I made it in a VW Polo, but swore most of the way as rocks jut out from the road) and get supplies from Dullstroom on your way – local trout from Millies is always a win. Pack filter coffee for the Bodum French press, bubble bath, firewood or bring cash to buy from the very obliging farm managers.

Contact: Tel 060 664 0941 or 011 819 6012/3, email [email protected], www.stonetinlodge.co.za

8. Glenburn Lodge, Muldersdrift

Travel time from Joburg city centre: 45 minutes

Glenburn Lodge

The luxurious three-star lodge, Glenburn Lodge, is situated in the Zwartkops Mountains on the outskirts of The Cradle of Humankind and is a 30-minute drive from Johannesburg. Glenburn has a natural scenic beauty and the peaceful bushveld creates the most relaxing atmosphere. You can choose to stay in garden or hotel suites, standard hotel rooms or chalets overlooking indigenous bush and soothing water features. You also have the option to book affordable, self-catering accommodation in the Bush Willow Tented Camp which rests on the banks of the Blaauwbank River. Each tent accommodates up to six guests and includes a warm water shower, a toilet and a kitchenette. Glenburn’s activities include game watching, river fishing, nature walks, outdoor chess and spa pampering.

Contact: Tel 011 668 1600, [email protected], glenburn.co.za

9. Elephant Springs Hotel & Cabanas, Bela Bela

Travel time from Joburg city centre: 1 hour 40 minutes

Elephant Springs Hotel

Breakaway to the Elephant Springs Hotel & Cabanas in Bela Bela. Built-in the old Colonial African style and filled with antiques and memorabilia, this hotel has 44 air-conditioned hotel rooms with en suite bathrooms, and 20 comfortable three-bedroom, self-catering cabanas around a private pool and braai area. The idea is to relax in comfort similar to your home, so spoil yourself and enjoy a stay at Elephant Springs.

Contact: Tel 014 736 2101, [email protected], www.elephantsprings.co.za

10. Komati Gorge Lodge, Machadodorp

Travel time from Joburg city centre: 3 hours

Komati Gorge Lodge

Located on the banks of the Komati River, the Komati Gorge Lodge is the perfect getaway for combining active days with lazy evenings. Explore the Komati Gorge on horseback, mountain bike, foot, or guided quad-bike tour. There are good spots for rock climbing, but climbers need to take their own gear. Fishing kits, mountain bikes and tubes for floating down the river can all be hired, so you don’t need to worry about bike racks, or tying down rods. The lodge is also pet-friendly, you just need to call ahead to arrange. Spend the evening in the bar or the hammock on your private balcony.

Contact: Tel 017 843 3920 / 082 217 7521, [email protected], www.komatigorge.co.za

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