As much as I love Joburg, my usual weekend does tend to get a bit tired after a while.
Admittedly, the concrete jungle doesn’t have much to offer outside of shopping or eating, but a short drive outside the city will find you at some of the country’s most beautiful destinations.
Here are the top 3 day trips from Johannesburg, which are no more than 45 minutes away from the city.
What to do:
The Harties Cableway
Recently revamped, this state of the art cableway now has 14 hi-tech cable cars, offering visitors a bird’s eye view of the Hartbeespoort Dam and surrounds. You can stroll along the 1km Dassie Loop walkway, or just relax and enjoy the scenery around you. Buy a picnic basket there, or pack your own- the view is breathtaking.
Tickets: R160 for adults, R90 for kids
Bush Babies Monkey Sanctuary
One of only eight free-release primate sanctuaries globally, Bush Babies Monkey Sanctuary’s goal is to provide the opportunity for primates to live as they would in the wild. Beautiful elevated wooden walkways allow you to encounter exotic monkeys in an environment similar to their natural habitat, while on an informative and intimate guided tour. www.monkeysanctuary.co.za
Where to eat:
Silver Orange Bistro
Situated on a citrus farm, this country style eatery is a gem – in terms of both food and ambiance. The menu is South African with flair- dishes are unusual but also unpretentious. Try the confit of duck leg with soy and honey glaze, or the foie gras fillet. www.silverorangebistro.co.za
What to do:
Stonehaven on Vaal
Picture an 18 acre estate, lined by thousands of rose bushes, with the largest garden restaurant in South Africa and a magical kiddies play area with a tree house, sand pit, jungle gym and swimming pool. Stonehaven is a destination in itself, and offers enough to keep you busy for an entire day. Your first stop should be the River Pub, where you’ll find the largest collection of nautical antiques in South Africa and a fantastic buffet on the weekends.
Once you’re done eating, head down to the Stonehaven Harbour and board a luxury Vaal River Boat Cruise. Wine and dine on board, or chill out on the top deck and work on your tan. If it’s adventure you’re after, you can rent a speedboat at R1000 per hour for up to 10 people, which is great way to cool down on a blistering day.
What to do:
Ngwenya Glass Village
Originally a farm workshop, the village now affords visitors the opportunity to browse a massive range of glassworks and crafts within an array of quaint shops.
Ngwenya also houses two restaurants- Vulindlela bistro and Gilroy’s brewery, which offers beer tasting, pubfare and entertainment. Don’t expect to be blown away by the food here, rather go for the beer.
Brewery tours happen every Saturday at 11am, where for R110 per person, you can learn how beer is created and understand the Gilroy brewing process, which is characterized by no filtration, artificial carbonation or preservatives. The best part is, of course, sampling the beer, which you’ll have a chance to do at the end of the tour. Note that this is for adults only, but little ones are well catered for at Ngwenya Village. Jocks Studio arranges activities like candle making, fabric painting and sand art, plus there is also a go karting track available. www.shadesofngwenya.co.za
Where to eat:
Bellgables Country Restaurant
For a very exclusive and almost over the top meal, head to Bellgables, which is filled with artifacts from all over the world- vases, Buddhas, candles, ostrich eggs – it is a wildly elaborate collection of history and culture. Heavy golden curtains drape the windows, which open onto the large estate, originally the owner’s home.
The presentation of the dishes has a wow factor similar to the décor of the restaurant; flowers and sprigs are intricately placed alongside the food. Signature dishes include roast duck with a cherry sauce, chicken and prawn curry with coconut milk and fresh curry leaves, and oven baked lamb shank served with herb and mint sweet sauce. A highlight for me was the fresh tomato and olive bread rolls, baked daily. www.bellgables.biz
If you don’t want to drive too far and prefer to stay in Jozi, check out the Johannesburg Zoo, which is a great day out for the whole family. If you want to win tickets to the zoo, click here.