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Posted on: Monday, 14 January 2013

Weekend breaks from Gauteng – top 5 (+one) things to do in 5 provinces

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Weekend breaks

Weekend breaks

The bonus when it comes to living in Gauteng – over and above the fat salaries, larger cars (dense traffic, and press of people) – is the access to just about anywhere. North West, Limpopo, Mpumalanga, Free State and KwaZulu Natal are all on your doorstep, give or take a few kilometres, and weekend breaks away from it all are easy because of it.

Here are our favourite weekend breaks – the top 5 (+one) things to do in 5 provinces …

NORTH WEST

Hartbeespoort Dam, Magaliesberg and the Pilansberg are literally on Johannesburg’s back doorstep. Harties is the destination of the average biker’s breakfast run (it’s only 70km from Jo’burg) and the Magaliesberg is Jo’burg’s weekend pad.

Top 5 (plus 1) things to do:

  1. Abseil in Broederstroom – scale cliffs in various wildlife reserves within an hour of Jo’burg
  2. Kloof in the Magaliesberg – hike up the river and clamber over boulders before descending through waterfalls and plunging into pools – it will leave you breathless
  3. Hot air balloon in the Cradle of Mankind or Hartbeespoort – greet the sunrise from the sky with only the silence of a new day to accompany you
  4. Ride the trees on a canopy tour – an exhilirating experience in the Ysterhout Kloof; 11 platforms joined by steel cables; like a foefie slide but in amongst the trees
  5. Sample cheese at Van Gaalen Kaasmakerij – learn how cheese is made, eat in the restaurant or pick up a pre-booked picnic hamper
  6. Walk with Elephants – the Elephant Sanctuary is something you cannot pass up

Places to stay – choose from our selection on SA-Venues.com at North West Province Accommodation.

pilanesberg

LIMPOPO

There is so much to do in the Limpopo – Bela Bela, Magoebaskloof, Soutpansberg and Waterberg – that choosing is the hard part. One thing you can be sure of is variety, beautiful scenery and plenty to occupy you if outdoor pursuits are your thing.

Top 5 (plus 1) things to do:

  1. Mabudashango Hiking Trail – four days of hiking trail, 53 kilometres across the eastern half of the Soutpansberg, through a series of sacred sites not available to the average tourist
  2. Mystic Monkeys and Feathers Wildlife Park – great family option; see birds and one of the country’s largest private primate collections
  3. Raft the Blyde River Canyon – an extreme whitewater experience; need helmets and endurance, but it’s one of the most beautiful rivers in the world
  4. Elephant-back safari in the Kruger – nothing beats a walk through African bush on the back of an elephant
  5. Kloof in George’s Valley Gorge (Haenertsburg) – you can abseil, kloof, tube, rock climb or hike this gorge – choice is yours. You can even float downstream…
  6. Hug the big baobab – on the R71 outside Gravelotte en route to Tzaneen

Places to stay – choose from our selection on SA-Venues.com at Limpopo Accommodation.

MPUMALANGA

Place of the rising sun with beautiful spots – Dullstroom, Panorama Route, Sabie to Blyde River, Wakkerstroom and the Kruger National Park – what more could you want from a weekend away – you can be in Dullstroom within three hours…

Top 5 (plus 1) things to do:

  1. Big Swing in Graskop – this is one way to conquer your fear of heights, attached by safety harness to the spur of Mauchsberg, you freefall at a speed of 180km an hour
  2. Visit Anvil Ale House – local micro-brewery in Dullstroom worth a lunch stop
  3. Fishing in Waterval Boven – really quiet little town that got lost in time that offers some of the best fishing from three fully stocked dams
  4. Go deep at Sudwala Caves – don’t bother with the tame guided tours through the caves every half hour, phone ahead and arrange the private Crystal Chamber tour deep into the cave
  5. Hike the Escarpment Trail (Machadodorp) – beautiful two day trail over the Skurwerand, in amongst yellowwood trees with views over the Komati valley and then down into the Bankspruit gorge
  6. Nukain Mabusa’s ‘Garden of Flowers’ – on the R38 near Kaapmuiden, rock art in the middle of nowhere

Places to stay – choose from our selection on SA-Venues.com at Mpumalanga Accommodation.

kruger

FREE STATE

From Bloemfontein to Clarens the Free State lies in the middle of South Africa, its flat grasslands and sandstone mountains an easy play ground for Gautengers, who escape to places like Rosendal, Fouriesburg, Ficksburg and Parys with increasing regularity.

Top 5 (plus 1) things to do:

  1. Abseil in Parys – in and around the Vredefort Dome – exhilaration at its best
  2. Fish in Clocolan – the two hectare dam at Amohela Ho Spitskop is well stocked with rainbow trout, and the adjacent deep water quarry holds black bass and carp
  3. Visit the Fourth Raadsaal in Bloem – built in 1893; one of several beautiful examples of architecture in the centre of the city
  4. Sample Highland Coffee Roastery in Clarens – 100% arabica beans roasted on the premises; they roast their own signature blends
  5. The Jagersfontein Big Hole Open Mine – it might be a small town but Jagersfontein’s history of diamonds goes way back; their open mine is the biggest man-made hole on earth
  6. Join the Ionia Cherry Tour in Ficksburg – over 15 000 cherry trees and 13 different varieties of cherries; the views and the cherry liqueur are incredible

Places to stay – choose from our selection on SA-Venues.com at Free State Accommodation.

KWAZULU-NATAL

Sub-tropical beaches, the hills and dales of Zululand, a range of mountains that dominates the marvellous Midlands, the Elephant Coast, Dolphin Coast and cities like Durban complicate one’s choices. Here for only a weekend? Stick to the northern reaches of the Drakensberg and the Midlands.

Top 5 (plus 1) things to do:

  1. Abseil in Champagne Valley – abseil 25m down Chicken Hill and back up again; no experience necessary
  2. Bird up Sani Pass – an all day trip up Sani Pass in a 4X4 looking for Drakensberg rockjumpers, sentinel rockthrushes, bush blackcaps and mountain pitpits with Suart McLean
  3. Visit the Dargle Valley Market – near the il Postino Restaurant in Dargle, an olde-style slow food market you won’t want to miss
  4. Horse trails in Bergville – the Northern Horse provides both day time and sundowner horseback experiences in the northern Drakensberg
  5. Giant’s Cup Hiking Trail – from the foothills of the Drakensberg through Cobham and Garden Castle reserves – views are from heaven
  6. The Midlands Meander – with shops like the Funky Cow, Simply Sam Antiques, The Nottingham Road Brewery and Fusion Studio

Places to stay – choose from our selection on SA-Venues.com at KwaZulu Natal Accommodation.

drakensberg

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Wanda Coustas

About 

Wanda Coustas has written in one form or another for 10 years, seven of them as a copyblogger. She has travelled the Western Cape extensively and the rest of the country in protracted road trips that have given her both joy and an ongoing relish for experiencing what she writes about first-hand. She is a trained opera singer, poet, eurythmy dancer, philosopher, and bee whisperer.

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