Anyone living in good old Johannesburg knows that trips out of the city are a definite must to stay sane. I absolutely love Johannesburg; the vibe, the people, the fast pace of it all. But every now and then my heart and soul yearns for some fresh air and an escape from the rat race filled with traffic cues and taxi drivers.
So when Darren and I are feeling a bit down and out, and we can’t just take another holiday to the beach, we look to these two places for some much-needed R ‘n R.
One of the places that we love to go to for a quick day break out of the city would have to be Hartbeespoort or Harties as many locals like to call it. It is about an hour out of Johannesburg therefore making it an easy getaway for the day. There are many things to do in Harties from restaurants, water sports, the cable car up the mountain and hikes in the surrounding areas.
Some activities we like to do in the area:
Hennops – Hiking trails to get that extra boost of fresh air while at the same time giving you that opportunity to work off the weekend indulgences. You don’t need to book and it will only set you back R60 per adult and R30 per child.
Harties Cableway – Take a trip up the mountain for some magnificent views of the dam and town below. It will cost you R195 per adult for a return trip and you can stay up the mountain for as long as you like within their opening times.
Bush Babies Mountain Sanctuary – Take a walk on raised wooden platforms into a forest sanctuary filled with over 150 different primates and learn more about these fascinating creatures. The one hour tour with an expert guide will cost you R275 per adult but knowing that the money you pay is going towards rehabilitation and the looking after of the animals, it is worth every cent.
Favourite restaurant in Harties:
French Toast Koffie Kafee – If you have ever wanted to go to Paris but just haven’t found your way there yet then French Toast will give you a little taste of what to expect, with their own Eiffel Tower included The menu is simple and reflects the name – nearly all of the dishes include French toast and there are enough different types of meals to suit everyone’s tastes. The beautiful outside atmosphere, French music included, makes for a wonderful afternoon out.
Situated not too far away from Hartbeespoort is the beautiful national park of Pilanesberg. Situated on an ancient caldera, that last erupted 1200 million years ago, the natural vegetation and mountainous surrounds are stunningly unique on their own along with the Big Five that can be found there.
As we are nature enthusiasts and seem to always find an excuse to retreat into the bush, Pilanesberg makes it even more easier for us to spend some time driving around in our 4×4 looking for animals and bird life or just sitting at a hide and whiling away the time. Just over 2 hours away from Johannesburg, Pilanesberg is our most favourite trip out of the city.
Either pack a picnic basket and head off to one of the picnic spots with braai areas and enjoy being out in the natural, wild landscape of the park. Or stop in at the Pilanesberg Centre and enjoy a delicious meal overlooking the waterhole where you will have some furry friends visiting you such as Giraffe, Kudu, Wildebeest and even Elephants if you are lucky!
The campsite Manyane has its very own walk-in aviary, have a nice walk around in this peaceful enclosure with all different types of bird species. Manyane also has a big pool for you to take a dunk in when the hot South African sun gets a bit too much for you.
For all the ones out there that just has to take the best shot when away or are aspiring photographers, the seven bird hides give you that opportunity to sit and watch all the animals and birds come and go. While providing you that perfect opportunity for some great wildlife photography shots. If you don’t feel like driving around the park for hours on end, this is the place for you.
Living in the city, although extremely convenient and energetic, can leave you feeling exhausted by the time the weekend rolls around and that is why we need these little pieces of peace to find refuge in.
Do you have any city escapes that you would like to share with us? Let us know in the comments!