Just over an hour’s drive from Johannesburg lies Hartbeespoort, a resort town tucked deep into the Magaliesberg mountains. Known as “Harties” to locals, Hartbeespoort is actually a collective of small towns located around the enormous Hartbeespoort Dam.
Leaving the city behind for a weekend in Harties? Here’s what to do:
Enjoy panoramic views of the Magaliesberg mountains
A trip up the Harties Cableway is one of the best ways to see the lie of the land. See the Hartbeespoort Dam in its full splendour, take in the sights of the surrounding Magaliesberg mountain range and spot the small towns far below.
The cableway has recently been revamped and offers a series of fun activities at the top station. Meander along the Dassie Loop walkway, look for birds of prey from the nearby vulture sanctuary, or book a picnic basket for an outdoor lunch with an incredible view.
On a clear day, you can see as far as Pretoria from the top of the mountain – don’t forget your binoculars!
Explore Hartbeespoort Dam by boat
Construction on the mammoth Hartbeespoort Dam started in 1916 and was completed in 1923. The dam wall is 149.5m long and 59.4m high and built across a gorge cutting through the Magaliesberg. During rainy seasons, the dam often overflows, and it is a spectacle to see the water crashing through its sluices.
The best way to explore the dam and see surrounding attractions is by boat. The Harties Boat Company offers several tours, starting at Kommandonek. All tours serve either breakfast, brunch or lunch on board as you cruise past lavish waterfront homes and attractions.
Tuck in at a cheese lover’s paradise
As a holiday hotspot for many visitors from Pretoria and Johannesburg, it’s no surprise that there are many great restaurants around the Hartbeespoort Dam area offering delicious eats.
For something adventurous on the culinary side, visit Grootplaas Cheese Academy where you can take part in a three-day cheese and yoghurt course or a one-day cheese or pasta course. Learn from the best cheese makers how to create decadent dairy products and cheesy dishes. After all, doesn’t a meal always taste better if you made it yourself?
If you’d rather buy your cheese ready made for a picnic, visit the Van Gaalen Kaasmakerij. The shop sells a myriad of cheeses made on the premises, along with a selection of wines, preserves and traditional Dutch snacks. There is also a restaurant on the banks of the Skeerpoort River, a serene environment to tuck into your meal.
Extend your trip to the Pilanesberg
Although Hartbeespoort offers many fun activities in a beautiful natural environment, it can get a bit busy. Enjoy some respite or a change of scenery by taking a short two-hour drive to the Pilanesberg National Park in North West province, South Africa’s fourth-largest national park.
The reserve is known for its rolling hills and seemingly endless plains, perfect for spotting the Big Five. It is home to about 7 000 animals, so you’ll have your hands full spotting the wide variety of game.
You can stay over at the park for a night and hear the lions roar in the distance, or make it a day trip. Bring a packed lunch to enjoy at one of the many picnic sites around the park.