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Text: Lisa Johnston. Photography: iStockphoto.com. This atricle is from the December 2011 issue of Getaway Magazine.
Get away from the malls this summer and cherry pick from these original places to eat, play and shop in and around the province.
Rafting the Vaal River - Start the day with a Wake Up Call, negotiate with Big Daddy and hope like hell you don’t come short on Bliksem or Gatsien. The rapids on this stretch of Vaal cut through the Vredefort Dome World Heritage Site and take on a mood that is entirely up to the river. When the water is high, the rapids are furious, but at its average flow rapids are graded one to two. Otters Haunt, tel 056 818 1814, cell 082 475 8767, email email@example.com, www.otters.co.za
Take a hike – The best views of Rustenburg can be seen from the Peglarae trail at Kgaswane Mountain Reserve. Rising above the city on the northern slopes of the Magaliesberg, the 5300-hectare reserve has four popular trails, increasing in length and difficulty. Tel 014 533 2050, email firstname.lastname@example.org, tiny.cc/kgaswane.
Captain your own adventure - Head starboard or port to explore the best of the Vaal River with Willow No 7 Houseboat Charters. Each boat is comfortably kitted out and sleeps up to five people. There’s a fully equipped kitchenette indoors and a braai outside. Grab your fishing rod and binoculars and get cruising. Cell 083 391 4884 or 087 720 0747, email email@example.com, www.oldwillow.co.za.
The sky’s the limit - Sip sparkling wine while soaring (mostly) silently above the Magaliesberg range. Not only will you enjoy a bird’s eye view of the area, but it will leave you with an enormous sense of peace and satisfaction. Bill Harrop’s Original Balloon Safaris has earned the reputation as one South Africa’s most professional outfits and has been running safaris since 1981. Tel 011 705 3201, cell 083 443 2661, email firstname.lastname@example.org, www.balloon.co.za.
Stepladder to the stars – If you’d like to give mountain climbing a go, but aren’t sure if the fear factor will leave you paralysed at the top of a mountain, try the via ferrata at Shelter Rock first. A series of metal rungs leads to one of the highest points on the Magaliesberg. It allows non-climbers relatively easy access to places previously reached only by mountaineers. Cell 071 473 6298, email email@example.com, www.shelterrock.co.za.
Dinner and a show - Head to the Market Theatre on Thursday nights to catch a show and dinner at the Market Bar and Bistro for R120 a person. Bookings for the dinner package close at 17h00 every Wednesday. Book at Computicket or tel 011 832 1641.
Sandboarding the mine dumps - Pure Rush Industries holds sandboarding lessons on Mount Mayhem, a mine dump in Benoni. Rent a sandboard from the company and learn the basics from skilled instructors, who also help you to adopt the correct posture for the sport. Then it’s up to you to try, try and try. Other urban adventure sports on offer include rap jumping and free boarding. Cell 082 605 1150, email info&purerush.co.za, www.purerush.co.za.
X-Treme sport - Johannesburg’s latest entertainment park in Fourways, Jozi X, offers adrenaline junkies the opportunity to fall nine metres from a climbing wall or swing overhead from a trapeze. Fortunately the fall is well cushioned. The venue also offers extreme rolling inside inflatable balls, which are released down a 200-metre slope. Other activities include mountain boarding and slackening. Cell 082 456 2358, email firstname.lastname@example.org, www.jozix.co.za.
On yer bike - The 2 500-hectare Northern Farm Nature Reserve is a popular weekend destination with a wide range of terrain for mountain bikers to explore. The three main routes are 12, 20 and 35 kilometres respectively, or join them up for a longer ride. There’s a clubhouse, bathrooms, restaurant and coffee shop on site. Have your bike washed while you enjoy a cuppa, knowing all proceeds go to the Diepsloot Development Project. www.northernfarm.co.za.
Hang out with the stars - The Maropeng Visitor Centre at the Cradle of Humankind offers regular stargazing events. Guests are treated to a buffet dinner at the Tumulus Restaurant deck and a fascinating presentation about the night sky. After dinner, visitors can view stars and planets through large-range aperture telescopes. Stargazing events resume from February 2012. Check the website for upcoming events. Tel 014 577 9000, email website@’maropeng.co.za, www.maropeng.co.za.
You wanna be a cowboy? - Novice riders and veteran cowboys alike can learn a trick or two at the Diamond X Ranch, close to Pretoria. The School of Western Horsemanship offers lessons, workshops and clinics in Western riding for all levels of experience. Cell 082 410 3180. www.diamondxranch.co.za
Branching out - Make like Tarzan and swing from tree to tree at Acrobranch at Ethel Grey Park in Illovo. The obstacle-come-sport-and-adventure course provides a fun challenge for kids and adults in a healthy outdoor environment. Cell 078 438 7463, email bookings&acrobranch.co.za, www. acrobranch.co.za.
Attennnn … shun! - For an excellent display of weapons, military aircraft, medals, uniforms and other war memorabilia, visit the South African Museum of Military History on Erlswold Way, Saxonwold, near the Johannesburg Zoo. There’s also a library that houses journals, archival material and books. Tel 011 646 5513, email email@example.com.
Cocktails in an olive grove - For a meal to die for, often accompanied by great live music on weekends, head to I1 Giardino Degli Ulivi (The Garden of Olives) at 44 Stanley in Auckland Park. The classic Italian restaurant is under olive trees in a chilled outdoor setting. Check the website for upcoming gigs. Tel 011 482 7793, www.44stanley.co.za/food.asp.
Park off with your pooch - Walkhaven Dog Park in Muldersdrift offers 22 hectares of rolling grassland to enjoy with your best friend. Created as a safe space specifically for dogs and their owners to walk, this is one place you won’t be bugged by leash restrictions and overly dramatic dog fearers. Braai and picnic facilities are available throughout the park and there’s a dog-friendly restaurant and sundowner deck. Cell 071 212 9955, email firstname.lastname@example.org, www.walkhaven.co.za.
Put on your party outfit – The trendy suburb of Melville to the west of Johannesburg city centre always has something new on offer that brings something fresh to the main drag. The array of restaurants and cocktail bars makes this an excellent spot for a late night out.
Monkey business - At Bushbabies Monkey Sanctuary in Hartbeespoort, unwanted pets and primates bred for the pet trade are released into the lush vegetation with rocky outcrops to slowly return to their natural behaviour. The sanctuary has educational tours every hour from 09h00 to 16h00, Monday to Sunday. Tel 012 258 9908, email email@example.com, www.monkeysanctuary.co.za.
Buy something old – The best spot to pick up something old or quirky is Queen Street in Kensington. Myriad antique shops line the street in old-style houses with wooden floors and pressed ceilings. After trawling the shops, you can pop into any of the restaurants or coffee shops to refuel for further browsing and buying.
Don your beer goggles - The SAB World of Beer is rated as Joburg’s best tourist attraction – and not just because you get to drink at the end of it. The tour gives visitors insight into the magical alchemy of brewing, from ancient Mesopotamia through to Africa and Europe. Dig into a pub lunch after the tour and enjoy gorgeous views of the city. Tel 011 836 4900, email jessie.mahlasela@za. sabmiller.com, www.worldofbeer.co.za.
Elly friendly – Get close to a pachyderm pal at the Elephant Sanctuary in Hartbeespoort Dam. Visitors are given an informative talk before they feed the animals and interact with them. There are three tours daily at 08h00, 10h00 and 14h00. Tel 012 258 0423, email firstname.lastname@example.org, www.elephantsanctuary.co.za.
Hello ducky - Montecasino Bird Gardens in Fourways has an open-air aviary and glass-walled terrariums stocked with birds, mammals and reptiles. Wander the walkways through a cooing menagerie of more than 60 species of birds, feed the rainbow lorikeets or catch an educational Flight of Fantasy show. Tel 011 510 7000, email email@example.com, www. monte-casino.co.za.
Home brew - Gilroys has become a popular weekend hangout for Gautengers looking to relax in a country venue with a glass of home-brewed gold in hand. Owner and brewer Steve Gilroy also offers humorous tastings that explore the myths, legends and secrets of beer. Sundays offer great beer, food and live music. Tel 011 7963020, cell 073 357 2897, email firstname.lastname@example.org, www.gilroybeers.co.za.
Horsing around - The South African Lipizzaners are the only performing horses outside of Vienna recognised by the Spanish Riding School. Performances by these magnificent dancing stallions are held at 10h30 every Sunday at the Lipizzaner Indoor Arena in Kyalami. Audience members can meet the riders and feed the horses after performances. Tel 011 702 2103, email email@example.com, www.lipizzaners.co.za.
Old soak - The Radium Beer hall on Louis Botha Avenue in Orange Grove is something of an institution in old Johannesburg. Not only is it the city’s longest surviving pub, but it also functions as a live-music venue for some of South Africa’s best up-and-coming and regular bar-trawl bands. There’s great live big-band jazz on the last Saturday of every month. Tel 011 728 3866, email firstname.lastname@example.org. www. theradium.co.za.
Fly the line - Take flight over a beautiful craggy gorge 25 Fly the line at Ysterhout Kloof with Magaliesberg Canopy Tours. The tour comprises 11 platforms linked by steel cables, which zig-zag across the gorge. Participants are given harnesses and headgear and attached to the cables, which they whizz across at breathtaking speeds. Tel: 014 535 0150, email email@example.com, www.magaliescanopytour.co.za.
Catch a movie on the big, big screen - The whole family can catch a double bill for R75 at the Veldskoen Drive In, off Malibongwe Road in Randburg. Open the boot, line it with blankets and pillows and settle in with popcorn and Slushpuppies. To find out what’s showing, tel 011 793 2812.
Treasure hunt - Scour row-upon-row of first editions, vinyl LPs, sheet music, magazines, porcelain, glass, silverware and other collectables at the Collectors Treasure at 244 Commissioner Street in downtown Jozi. With three floors of the eight-storey building open to the public, it takes temerity and plenty of time to sift through the collections, which have been accumulating for more than 30 years. The Collectors Treasure is open Mondays to Fridays from 09h00 to 17h00, Saturdays from 10h00 to 13h00. Tel 011 334 6556.
Catch some independent cinema – The Bioscope at Main Street life is Joburg’s only independent and art-house cinema and it’s the coolest place to watch independent films. The venue aims to grow new audiences for international and local films. Keep an eye on the website for events such as Curried Celluloid, 16 mm, Bioscope Late and TV Dinner, as well as festicalas, special screenings and other events. Tel 01 000 70119, email firstname.lastname@example.org, www.thebioscope.co.za.
View from the roof of Africa - At 223 metres, the Carlton Centre is the tallest building in Africa and one of Johannesburg’s iconic structures. For R15, you can take a lift to the 50th floor Top of Africa observation area and enjoy great panoramic views of the city. The entrance is on the corner of Commissioner and Von Wielligh streets in Johannesburg CBD.
Race a dragon – The Golden City Dragon Boat Club at Wemmer Pan in the south of Johannesburg holds practice sessions open to anyone who’d like to join in. With 22 rowers to a boat, the vessels fly across the water. The bright colours, rhythmic drumming and camaraderie provide a real rush. Corporate teambuilding available. Cell 076 130 8734, email@example.com, www.dragonboatracing.co.za.
Park, ride and picnic - Van Gaalens Cheese Farm is a working farm with a deli and restaurant on the R512, close to Hartbeespoort Dam. Tables are outside and overlook a kiddies’ play area and plenty of friendly farm animals. You can also order a picnic basket to enjoy next to the river. It’s becoming increasingly popular with mountain bikers who ride the 100-kilo- metre track before tucking into a hearty lunch. Tel 012 207 1289, email info@ vangaalen.co.za, www.vangaalen.co.za.
A Day at the dairy - The Irene Dairy Farm is a good spot to get kids acquainted with idyllic farm life and for their parents to buy fresh farm produce – including the legendary thick farm cream – from the dairy shop. You can watch the cows being milked and there are two restaurants on the property, which offer delicious, fresh breakfasts and lunches. Tel 012 667 2326, email shop@ ireneestate.co.za or barn@ ireneestate.co.za, www.irenefarm.co.za.
Good ‘n local - Cape Town’s Neighbourgoods Market has found a second home on 73 Juta Street in Braamfontein. The weekly Saturday market provides a platform for local farmers, fine-food purveyors,organic merchants and artisans as well as a meeting place for people to get together and buy fresh produce and speciality goods directly from the source. Cell 082 370 4075, email firstname.lastname@example.org, www.neighbourgoodsmarket.co.za.
Organic goodness – The Bryanston Organic and Natural Market sells a wholesome range of organic products such as plump feather-down duvets, natural oils and divinely scented soy candles. The tea garden is a favourite meeting place to listen to live music while munching on cake and coffee or a light meal. The market is open on Thursdays and Saturdays from 09h00 to 15h00. Tel 011 706 3752, email email@example.com, www.bryanstonorganicmarket.co.za.
Howling good - Wolves is an awesome cake shop, art studio and music venue at 4 Corlett Drive in Illovo. Howl, a live music night, takes place every Thursday and beer o’ clock starts at 16h30 on Fridays for ‘nice beer, nice music and nice cake’. Tel 011 447 2360, email firstname.lastname@example.org, www.wolves.co.za.
Parktown and Westcliff heritage walks - The Parktown and Westcliff Heritage Trust comprises a committed bunch of volunteers who are hellbent on preserving the city’s old buildings. Besides rallying to save old homes and institutions, it holds walking tours of historical houses and gardens not generally accessible to the public. The trust posts a quarterly programme of tours on its website. Tel 011 482 3349 on weekdays between 09h00 and 13h00, email email@example.com, www.parktownheritage.co.za.
Full steam ahead - The Friends of the Rail group runs regular tourism trips around Tshwane, as well as to Cullinan, Rayton and Bela Bela. It’s a fun day out for the family and passengers are encouraged to pack a picnic and revel in the thrill of the journey. Trains depart from the Hermanstad depot off Miechaelson Street, Pretoria central. Tel 012 767 7913, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.friendsoflherail.com.
A little bit of Haly – Super Sconto is a wonderful way to take the drudgery out of food shopping and add a touch of international flair to your cooking. Based in Orange Grove, an area once known as Little Italy before many of its Italian residents moved to other suburbs, the supermarket offers everything from floor polish to olive oil, imported from Italy. The best part is that when you find yourself flagging, you can order a killer espresso and roll with your choice of meats, cheeses and antipasto from the deli – pay for your order at the check-out with your other purchases. Tel 011 728 7561, email email@example.com.
Become a bone sleuth - The Maropeng Visitor Centre has a wonderful new walking tour which is perfect for budding paleoanthropologists. Called Bone Detectives, the half-day tour offers an introduction to human evolution and explains how fossils provide clues about our ancestors. Tours include a fun interactive learning session plus a visit to the Sterkfontein Caves followed by a picnic. Tel 014 577 9000, email firstname.lastname@example.org, www. maropeng.co.za.
Get traditional - Besides being Joburg’s oldest market, Mai Mai is a one-stop shopping experience for all things truly traditional. Dubbed ezinyangeni (place of the healers), the market is also home to a community of vendors, sangomas and inyangas who heal the city’s sick and spiritually destitute. The market is on the corner of Anderson and Berea streets.
Sugar and spice - There’s more to the Indian suburb of Fordsburg than samoosas, chicken tikka and shish kebabs, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t spend a substantial portion of your time sampling the goods. The multitude of restaurants in the area makes it an excellent spot for a good, cheap meal and there’s a flea market on Mint Road over weekends where you can snack on savoury and sweet goods, prepared while you wait. The Oriental Plaza is the place to head for shopping – you’ll find everything here from designer gear to fabric. www. fordsburg.com.
Creative hub – Arts on Main is the best thing to have happened in downtown Joburg in a long time. The blend of studio, residential and retail space has resulted in a much-needed creative hub for exhibitions and art events. There’s a buzzing market on Sundays that offers awesome design and food stalls. It’s open from 10h00 to 15h00, but most people stay on for drinks long afterwards, www. artsonmain.co.za, www.marketonmain.co.za.
Healing with herbs – South African herbal doyenne, Margaret Roberts’ seven-and-a-half hectare centre brims with herbs and other edible and medicinal plants and is testimony to 26 years of hard graft. The centre is open to the public on Wednesdays and on four-to-five themed open days a year. Tel (mornings only) 012 504 2121, cell 071 161 6441, email margaretroberts@Iantic.net, www.margaretroberts.co.za.
Gems and junk – The mining village of Cullinan, near Pretoria, makes a great day trip or weekend destination. The collection of quaint shops and eateries have an arty vibe and history buffs can start at Cullinan Tourism and History on Oak Avenue for a display of photographs, objects and information about the town’s past. www.cullinanmeander.co.za.
Visit ‘New’ China Town - Head to Derrick Avenue in Cyrildene for authentic Chinese supermarkets, dumpling shops, teashops and noodle bars. Much of the spoken and written language in these parts is Mandarin and the area offers an ever-changing landscape of shops and restaurants. Over Chinese New Year, the street is closed to cars and the restaurants place chairs and tables outside for patrons to enjoy the colourful spectacle of the dragon dance.
Boogy away the blues - The 12 Decades Art Hotel traces the histoty of Johannesburg with each room interpreted and decorated by an artist. It forms part of Main Street Life, a recently upgraded and renovated 1970s building that hosts shop and studio spaces. Jo’burgers in the know hit the Market on Main on Sunday morning and move on to the hotel’s rooftop bar by afternoon, where popular local DJs help them to enjoy the last hours of the waning weekend, www.mainstreetlife.co.za.
Blast from the past – The Tswaing Meteorite Crater is said to be one of the best-preserved terrestrial meteorite-impact craters in the world. It has a rim rising 119 metres above the crater floor and excellent vantage points from which to view the saline lake where the sky-rock hit and blasted this 1,4-kilometre crater into the Earth’s crust 220000 years ago. Cell 083 505 2271 or 076 945 5911.
Garden glory - Visiting the Oppenheimer family’s 16-hectare garden in Houghton is a soothing, soulful experience. The beautifully landscaped garden follows a working-with-nature approach, adopting organic principles and a natural style of planting. Public tours of the garden are by appointment only. The admission fee is donated to charity. Tel 011 646 4122, email email@example.com, www.brenthurstgardens.co.za.
Multiflora flower market – Head south towards the mine dumps for bucket full of blooms at bargain prices. The Multiflora Flower Market is an unlikely rose among thorns in the industrial zone of City Deep.
It’s home to the largest flower auction in Africa and odds are the bunch of poppies you bought just about anywhere in South Africa passed their pretty little heads through Multiflora that morning. Tel 011 613 4011, email firstname.lastname@example.org, www. multiflora.co.za.
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