16 weekend getaways near Joburg

Posted by Paul Maughan-Brown on 29 November 2018

If you’re in the mood for a weekend break, take a look through this list of great weekend getaways not too far from Johannesburg.

Also read: Get Better Accommodation In Cape Town

There’s a healthy spatter of game viewing destinations, a woodland wonderland, a couple of farm retreats, trout fishing havens and even an ox-wagon camp. We’ve included locations to cater for everything from a romantic trip for two, to beds in bulk for families and friends. There’s something for everyone wanting to get away from the city for a quick break.

1. Thabela Thabeng Mountain Retreat, Parys

Travel time from Joburg city centre: 1 hour 30 minutes

Thabela Thabeng Mountain Retreat, Parys

Thabela Thabeng provides the ultimate getaway from your hectic weekdays.

Thabela Thabeng is 100km from Johannesburg and lies in the midst of the Vredefort Dome, a world heritage site, between the mountains and the Vaal River. The luxury chalets are built on the edge of a deep kloof in the mountains and fireplaces for winter warmth and balconies with magnificent views provide a welcome break away from the hassle of everyday life. Each chalet is fully equipped for self-catering and the youth hostel and silo are ideal for large groups and also offer self-catering facilities. Activities include hiking, mountain biking, stargazing, bow shooting, abseiling and much more.

Cost: From R1,250 per unit per night, off-peak
Contact: 0568181116, [email protected]thabelathabeng.co.za

Review by Annuschka Du Preez

2. Phudufudu Tented Camp, Borakalalo Game Reserve

Travel time from Joburg city centre: 2 hours 40 minutes

Phudufudu Tented Camp. Photo by Villiers Steyn.

Phudufudu Tented Camp. Photo by Villiers Steyn.

Borakalalo Game Reserve, translated as ‘where people go to relax’, is a lazy little provincial nature reserve near Brits and a great alternative to Pilanesberg. Don’t expect any mega wildlife sightings, but enjoy the complete lack of vehicle pile-ups when you stop to view resident herds of waterbuck, kudu and hippo instead. All you hear when you sit down and close your eyes in Phudufudu Tented Camp are birds. With just 10 safari tents, a communal kitchen and braai facilities, it’s ideal for a group getaway.

Cost: Reserve entry R35 per person, R10 per vehicle, R450 per standard self-catering two-sleeper tent per night
Contact: 0127294101, [email protected]parksnorthwest.co.za/borakalalo

Contributed by Tabby Mittins and Villiers Steyn

3. Mistique Waters, Parys

Travel time from Joburg city centre: 1 hour 10 minutes

Mystique Waters, Parys

Find this self-catering guest house right next to the Vaal River. It boasts magnificent views and guests can stay and relax in their apartments. The apartments are comfortably furnished and feature en-suite bathrooms, fully equipped kitchens, televisions with DStv access and air conditioning. Mistique Waters is within walking distance of the Parys Golf and Country Estate and the River Spa, as well as all the local shops. Activities in the surrounding area include river rafting, fly fishing, abseiling, 4×4 trails, hiking routes, helicopter and hot air balloon rides, bird-watching and picnicking. Guests can also visit the UNESCO World Heritage Site at the Vredefort Dome, or Parys’ famous antique shops, art galleries, restaurants and coffee shops.

Cost: From R1,700 per four-sleeper self-catering unit, from R400 per person sharing two-sleeper B&B
Contact: 0560500880; 0724052338, [email protected], mistiquew.co.za

4. Hollybrooke Adventure Farms

Travel time from Joburg city centre: 1 hour 10 minutes

Hollybrooke Farms

Quad biking is one of the many activities offered on Hollybrooke Farms.

Live your farm-owner dream for a few days, in one of Hollybrooke Farms’ self-catering stone cottages on the banks of the Magalies river. Observe and experience the slower pace of our country’s agricultural backbone on this working farm with cattle, crops and pecan nuts. Farm animals will entertain younger kids, while a variety of activities is available to the whole family. Explore the property on horseback or quad bike, or let out the marksman in you by practicing archery and air-rifle target shooting in the firing range. Once your aim is up to scratch, pit yourselves against each other in a game of paintball. If all this sounds a bit too much like work, soak in the sun and the view of the beautiful Magaliesburg.

Cost: From R800 per four-sleeper cabin per night, self-catering
Contact: 0825521285, [email protected]hollybrooke.co.za

5. Golden Gate Highlands National Park

Travel time from Joburg city centre: 3 hours 24 minutes

Golden Gate Highlands National Park. Photo by Villiers Steyn.

Golden Gate Highlands National Park. Photo by Villiers Steyn.

Few places offer as much hiking variety as Golden Gate Highlands National Park, near Clarens in the southeastern Free State. Whether you’re parents with hyperactive toddlers, a group of friends looking for a sundowner spot, or a serious climber training for Kili, there’s a trail for you somewhere in the shadow of Brandwag. If you’re travelling as a group, book the farmhouse at Glen Reenen Rest Camp, located away from the main complex. The only lights you’ll see here at night are stars.

Cost: At Glen Reenen Rest Camp during low season: camping from R248 per night for two, rondavel from R984 per night for two, cottage from R1,130 for four
Contact: 0124289111, [email protected]sanparks.org

6. Cherry Grove Luxury Apartments, Dullstroom

Travel time from Joburg city centre: 2 hours 30 minutes

Cherry grove luxury apartments

The Cherry Grove apartments are reminiscent of a Tuscan piazza.

These luxury en-suite apartments have private balconies which overlook the piazza on the edge of Dullstroom. The piazza itself houses The Duck & Trout – a vibrant watering hole for Dullstroom locals – as well as an art gallery, coffee shop and gift shop. With fire places and DStv, these apartments are perfect for cozy nights in. It will be difficult to drag yourself out of bed in the morning, but excellent trout fishing in the area will reward those who do. The rise of trout will be the only thing which demands you be on-time, however, as Dullstroom is all about relaxing and recovering from the stresses of big city life.

Cost: From R595 per person
Contact: 013254042; [email protected], cherry-grove.co.za

7. Mabalingwe Nature Reserve, Bela-Bela

Travel time from Joburg city centre: 2 hours

Mabalingwe Nature Reserve. Photo by Villiers Steyn

Mabalingwe Nature Reserve. Photo by Villiers Steyn.

Mabalingwe Nature Reserve, near Bela-Bela, consists of 12,500 hectares of malaria-free bushveld and has all the features of a good family resort. Reader John Miles says, ‘If the traffic plays along, you could leave the city after work on the Friday afternoon and reach Mabalingwe with enough time to pitch your tent and still enjoy the sunset. There’s a good network of game viewing roads within the reserve, most of which you can drive with a Citi Golf. There’s a large caravan park with 67 shady stands and an assortment of self-catering options. For groups of up to 10, we recommend renting Sekelbosgat or Rooiboklaagte lodges – they’re very private, each with four en-suite rooms, a fully-kitted kitchen, outdoor braai area and pool.

Cost: Camping from R185 per stand per night (max. four), 10-sleeper Rooiboklaagte house is from R3,850 per night
Contact: 0140017011, [email protected]www.mabalingwe.co.za

8. Houtbosdorp, Broederstroom

Travel time from Joburg city centre: 40 minutes

Houtbosdorp, Hartbeespoort

Houtbosdorp is very central and enables you to be active during the day with relaxing evenings around the fire.

Houtbosdorp is a self-catering guest house overlooking the Crocodile River. It is only 40 minutes from Johannesburg and is close to various restaurants and exciting activities. If you feel like going on excursions during the day while having quiet evenings around the braai, this is the perfect place for you. Visit Lesedi Cultural Village, go hot-air ballooning, have a look at the UNESCO World Heritage Site, The Cradle of Humankind, and enjoy the amazing surroundings in the aerial cable way. Then come back to the simplicity of nature and prepare a lovely meal in the fully-equipped kitchen.

Cost: Wooden chalets from R220 per person, R250 during peak season
Contact: 0767114578, [email protected]houtbosdorp.co.za

9. Woodbush Forest Reserve, Magoebaskloof

Travel time from Joburg city centre: 4 hours

Woodbush Forest Reserve. Photo by Villiers Steyn.

Woodbush Forest Reserve. Photo by Villiers Steyn.

You’d be forgiven for expecting to see Orlando Bloom in full, pointy-eared, Lord of the Rings regalia step out from behind the trees on a hike through Woodbush Forest Reserve in Magoebaskloof, near Haenertsburg. It’s a magical place and drinking from fresh water streams and cooling off under icy waterfalls are added bonuses in an already unforgettable hiking destination. The Dokolewa Waterfall Trail overnights at two of the area’s nicest huts: Waterfall Hut and Dokolewa Pools. The challenging 43-kilometre route goes through scenic plantations and indigenous forest. You have to be completely self-sufficient.

Cost: From R130 per person for up to 16 people
Contact: 0137542724, [email protected]trails.co.za

10. Tussen-i-Bome Guest Farm, Cullinan

Travel time from Joburg city centre: 1 hour 10 minutes

Oxwagon Tussen-I-Bome

The ox wagon accommodation at Tussen-i-Bome redefines old-school

Tussen-i-Bome offers a variety of accommodation including camping, self-catering chalets and three ox wagon camps, sleeping four people each. These unique camps give you the opportunity to spend the night in authentic ox wagons, dating back to between 1860 and 1935. Hiking trails provide a way to stretch your legs and admire the bush, while the swimming pool and kids play area mean that youngsters are unlikely to be short of entertainment. Drink sundowners on the hilltop deck overlooking the whole farm in the evening before baking bread in the traditional clay bakoond to go with your braai. If the novelty of sleeping in a wagon isn’t enough, the huge half-barrel bath will certainly be the cherry on the top of a blast-from-the-past weekend.

Cost: From R300 per night (camping/caravan stands), from R600 per person (ox wagons), from R500 per person (bos-lapas)
Contact: 0825111169, [email protected], tussenibome.co.za

11. Villa Paradiso Country Manor, Hartbeespoort

Travel time from Joburg city centre: 1 hour

Villa Paradiso Hartbeespoort

Villa Paradiso is a country manor with 60 double bedrooms 

Villa Paradiso sits in a lofty location, overlooking the town of Hartbeespoort and the Hartbeespoortdam. With most rooms boasting private balconies or access onto the manicured gardens, there is a certain grandeur to the villa. It is a great base from which to explore the town of Hartbeespoort, which is big enough to explore for a couple of days, but small enough to feel like you’ve escaped from the rush of big city living. Visit Jasmyn Plaasprodukte farm stall – chockablock with produce from local farmers, from fresh fruit and nuts to home-baked goods.

Cost: From R450 per person
Contact: 0122531847/8, [email protected]villaparadiso.co.za

12. Brookwood Estate and Trout Farm, near Krugersdorp

Travel time from Joburg city centre: 50 minutes

Brookwood Estate and trout farm. Photo by Villiers Steyn.

Brookwood Estate and trout farm. Photo by Villiers Steyn.

Walking down to the five dams on Brookwood Estate and Trout Farm, on the banks of the Blaauwbank River near Krugersdorp, you’ll think you’ve stepped into the rural English countryside. The grounds are well maintained and dams are fully stocked. All fishing gear is available for daily hire and fishing advice is free. The two cosy, four-sleeper chalets and one two-sleeper cabin on the property are popular, so make sure you book in advance.

Cost: Entrance per adult R80, self-catering chalets from R350 per person, camper cabins from R180 per person
Contact: 0828562448 (Wed-Sat)/0722567561 (Sun-Tue), [email protected]brookwoodtroutfarm.co.za

13. Big Creek Guest Lodge, Magaliesburg

Travel time from Joburg city centre: 1 hour 10 minutes

Big Creek Guest Lodge, Magalieberg

Wake up to the amazing view of the Magaliesburg Mountains.

Find Big Creek Guest Lodge in a valley facing the Magaliesburg Mountains. It is an hour from Johannesburg and the landscape varies from rough and rocky hills to a quiet stream under weeping willow trees. A rustic, furnished lounge with DStv is available to those who enjoy their news and sport. There’s also a games room with a full size snooker table, dart board and bar, and a swimming pool set in a lovely garden with rolling lawns overlooking a small dam. Cyclists can enjoy both on- and off-road paths with a spectacular mountain bike route over the Breedts Nek Pass. Being in the heart of the Magalies Meander, there are many shopping and adventure activities from which to choose; game drives with the Big Five, microlight flights, gliders, canopy tours, hot-air ballooning and much more available at your request.

Cost: Cabins and cottages from R400 per person, camping from R120 per person
Contact: 0145770042, [email protected]bigcreek.co.za

14. Cruise-N-Snooze, Vanderbijlpark

Travel time from Joburg city centre: 1 hour

Cruise-N-Snooze, Vanderbijlpark

Try something new and spend your weekend on water instead of the boring old ground

Be adventurous and rent a Cruise-N-Snooze houseboat on the Vaal River. The fully-equipped luxury houseboats, which sleep four people and are moored in a private lagoon, are separated from the main river by a small island. From here there are approximately 55km of navigable waters with various tributaries to be explored at your leisure. On-board activities include fishing, bird-watching, swimming or just relaxing under the sun or starry sky. Places of interest on the riverbank include restaurants, bars, family entertainment venues, a casino, golf courses and spas.

Cost: From R1,000 per night for two guests (min. 2 nights), excluding fuel deposit and refundable security deposit
Contact: 0845508798, [email protected], cruise-n-snooze.co.za

15. Modimolle Funky Stay Backpackers, Limpopo

Travel time from Joburg city centre: 2 hours

Vibrant and colourful

This quirky lodge, just off the main road in Modimolle, bills itself as a road-trip stopover for those speeding up the N1 towards the northern Kruger gates, but in truth it’s a little more than that. Walk to the front door and you’ll immediately sense that this is something different. Unconventional tree-trunk sculptures and brightly coloured plant pots crafted from tyres line the path to the unusual barn-like, A-frame buildings. The 14 rooms that make up the lodge are decorated in a cheerful, offbeat South African style: think colourful mielies and pilchard cans prints on bedspreads, ornate mirrors and psychedelic paintings on the walls. Although the rooms are small and basic, the space has been cleverly used to accommodate a TV, tea- and coffee-making facilities, and an en-suite bathroom with shower. While primarily used as a stopover, it’s an affordable base from which to explore Modimolle and nearby Bela-Bela where outdoor activities are abundant; try zip-lining past blesbok or hurling yourself out of a light aircraft. Cool off in the pool after hiking or quad-biking through the surrounding mountains and throw some meat on the coals at the communal braai.

Cost: From R295 per person
Contact: 0878205999/74, book online

16. New Horizons Farm, Magaliesburg

Travel time from Joburg city centre: 1 hour 15 minutes

New Horizons Farm house

This six-sleeper self-catering house is located just seven kilometres from Magaliesburg. Take a walk through the house’s beautiful setting on the New Horizons farm before settling down in front of the wood-burning oven in the living room for the evening. Beautiful mountain views without a high-rise building in sight will leave you feeling rested and clear-minded. In close proximity of the farm house you can visit the Maropeng Visitor Centre to learn a bit about The Cradle of Humankind, and explore the Sterkfontein Caves. Perfect for families with kids or pets.

Cost: From R950 per person
Contact: 0822933495, [email protected], or book online

Please note that all prices below are subject to change at each establishment’s discretion. Please check with them before travelling.

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