10 weekend breaks near Johannesburg for under R600 per person

Posted on 22 September 2021

Looking for an affordable weekend break near Joburg? These 10 self-catering cottages and cabins are some of our favourites. They’re all under R600 per person per night and come endorsed by our Getaway journos and contributors.

1. Bird’s Haven Guesthouse, Parys

Cost: From R425 per person per night (sleeps six)
Contact: Tel 0823845260Birds Haven

Bird’s Haven is an ideal winter escape for busy Joburgers. Leave after work and 130 kilometres later, arrive in Parys. Park under the old pecan nut tree and enter the cosy double-storey homeowner Petro Lottering will have the heater going for you. The quirky, vintage-style two-bedroom, two-bathroom cottage can sleep up to six people. It’s good value for money, with attention to detail such as milk in the fridge, rusks beside the tea, coffee and sugar, big bars of soap and fresh towels, plus load-shedding gear such as solar lights and a gas cooker. The private garden and peaceful veranda are great for morning coffee with the birds. Kids and pets are welcome.

2. Cheerio Trout Fishing & Holiday Resort, Magoebaskloof

Cost: From R600 per unit (sleeps two)
Contact: cheerio.co.za

Cheerio Resort

Three of the five cottages are face-brick, and the design-conscious may baulk at the lounge furniture: but if you’re on a budget and have an active family, these eight spotless cottages offer an affordable escape and facilities for fishing and various children’s games. The cottages ‒ dotted about the well-maintained lawns above the trout dams ‒ are each completely unique in style and configuration, and well-represented online. (Don’t confuse Cheerio Resort with neighbouring Cheerio Gardens; aside from the latter’s famously beautiful garden, it has a fabulous special-event venue as well as two self-catering cottages).

3. Kingfisher Lodge, Waterberg

Cost: From R260 per person per night (sleeps 10)
Contact: Tel 0825708474, jembisa.com

Kingfisher Lodge

Within earshot of the trickling Palala River, Kingfisher Lodge is a spacious bushveld home in the Waterberg just three hours’ drive from Joburg. It’s one of three accommodation units in the Palala River Lodges collection and consists of a three-bedroom farmhouse with a cosy fireplace that takes centre stage in the open-plan living area and two en-suite rondavels nearby. It can accommodate up to 10 guests and has an on-site pool and a bird hide a short walk from the lodge. Pack a picnic and go for a drive to find the perfect spot in the 300-hectare reserve. There are many scenic lookout points, 4×4 routes, waterbuck, giraffe and warthog to spot or just unwind on the lodge porch with a view of the Waterberg hills and harrumphing hippo for company.

4. Lindani, Waterberg

Cost: Self-catering R310 per person in the tented camp; from R455 per person in other lodges (kids aged 4–12 half price)
Contact: Tel 0836315579, lindani.co.za

Lindani

With its own bushveld back garden, a gorgeous rock pool and an almost-guaranteed squadron of warthog mowing the lawns, Lindani is a self-catering, back-to-nature family escape that doesn’t disappoint. It’s 275 kilometres from Johannesburg and the accommodation options range from four-sleeper cottages and an eight-bed tented forest camp to the enormous 18-sleeper, four-house Motseng lodge complex. Spend time on the easy hiking trails, hire bicycles and cycle past wildebeest, zebra, eland and giraffe, or pack a picnic and stop at one of the five riverside sites to have a splash and cool down (one spot even has tubes for the lazy soakers). Owners Sam and Peggy van Coller put quality first and most of the self-catering units have good gas stoves and braais, dishwashers, a potjie pot and trusted-brand electronics.

READ: An insider’s guide to the real Waterberg

5. Mahem Guest House and Bokmakierie Cottage, Wakkerstroom

Cost: R400 per person a night, with discounts for longer stays
Contact: wakkerstroomcottages.co.za

Mahem House
Mahem Guest House and Bokmakierie Cottage sit on the edge of the Wakkerstroom with a view over the wetland and you can sometimes hear the call of the grey crowned crane in the early mornings (Mahem is the Afrikaans name for this bird). Both self-catering,
 they are set a little apart from each other. Mahem is bigger with four bedrooms, a lounge with a centre fireplace, and an enormous kitchen, while Bokmakierie caters for two. The homes are basic, but you’ll have everything you need.

READ: Things to do in Wakkerstroom

6. Magoebaskloof Birders’ Trogon Cottage, Magoebaskloof

Cost: 450 per person (sleeps two sharing); Minimum two-night stay on weekends (three for long weekends)
Contact: mbcottage.co.za

Magoebaskloof Birders Cottage

At the end of one of the many rutted roads that wind their way down the lush mountainside, surrounded by a very private wild garden, is this romantic little cottage. Every room has incredible views of the lush green surrounds. The bedroom has two huge cottage-pane windows and even the bathroom has a great view (don’t you just love a toilet with a view?) as does the kitchen: doing the dishes (it’s not serviced) will have you happily mesmerised. A small, sparsely furnished rectangular lounge (with a large fireplace) opens onto a tiny patch of lawn with a kettle braai. At the back there is a DIY plunge pool (filled on arrival) and a properly plumbed outdoor sunken bath, surrounded by verdant greenery; nothing but air between you and the wild mountain rising beyond.  A wood-burning donkey geyser supplies hot water. It’s the kind of place where you’ll want to strip off and stay naked.

7. Riverstill Guest House, Groot Marico

Cost: From R350 per night, minimum of two nights
Contact: riverstill.co.za

Riverstill Guest House

The Riverstill Guest House lies deep within a valley. Get up early and head to the river to experience the peace. There’s also a labyrinth for private meditation and tree walks can be arranged. Besides being knowledgeable about almost everything, owner Jacques du Plessis is also quite the cook and prepares healthy, wholesome meals. There are four rustic cottages spread out on the farm.

8. Riverman Cabin, Mpumalanga

Cost: R375 per person sharing
Contact: Tel 0832779143, rivermancabin.co.za

Riverman Cabin

Seven comfortable self-catering country cottages ‒ six with fireplaces and one with a grand antique coal stove ‒ nestle around a series of trout-filled dams. Choose from the more isolated two- to four-sleeper log cabins (a favourite was the private Wiggly Stone) or one of four brick cottages, which are more closely situated and can sleep two, four and bigger families of 10. The open-plan units are comfortably equipped, including a microwave and braai, or eat at Mine View, the on-site restaurant. Its signature trout dish is an affordable R80, and you don’t have to do the dishes (a housekeeper costs an extra 100 bucks, so you do the maths). There’s no television and terrible cellphone reception ‒ both of which are a good thing. Bring games to play around the fireplace, take undemanding walks on the working sheep and cattle farm or drill a few golf balls at the driving range. The owners plan on making their own mampoer in the near future.

9. Stone Tin Lodge, Mpumalanga

Cost: From R350 per person if you’re 10 guests
Contact: [email protected], stonetinlodge.co.za

Sunlight streams in warming Stone Tin Lodge during the day and come nightfall, a large central fireplace heats up the open-plan lounge, dining and kitchen area, which is tastefully decorated with pale wood finishings, navy fabrics and Nguni-skin rugs. Set on a private farm about 30 kilometres on the Lydenburg side of Dullstroom, this spacious three-bedroom country home overlooks two trout-filled dams surrounded by rolling hills and is completely off the grid, running primarily from solar energy and gas (there’s a generator too, just in case). Each room in this corrugated iron and stone retreat has a basket filled with thick blankets, an en-suite loo, and the main room has a gorgeous ball-and-claw bath. Throw a fishing line, look for blesbok, black wildebeest and zebra on an easy hike or if it’s really cold out, surf DStv, snuggle on the couch and take in a movie.

READ: Exploring the wonders of Graskop Gorge

10. Zwakala River Retreat, Magoebaskloof

Cost: The Cob House or Legodi Cottage is R1400 per night (R350 per person for four, R234 per person for six). Camping is R120 per person (maximum 16 people), with an outdoor hot-water shower and a single flush loo with a view.
Contact: zwakalaretreat.co.za

Zwakala River Retreat

This boho hippy eco-retreat ‒ home to three horses, five dogs, four chickens and the irrepressible Denise and Rob ‒ has breathed new life into the region with the quarterly Neighbourhood Farmers Market featuring live music and great food under the trees, Mina’s Art Café (a fabulous wedding/music/special-event venue, top left), a choice of good-value, off-the-grid accommodation options, swimming and fishing in the burbling Broederstroom River, and a nursery growing indigenous medicinal plants and teas. Given that you might have to share swimming access with other guests, you may prefer the privacy of Herb, Trogan or Thora Boloka cottages, but this is the best river swimming and may suit the more gregarious. Or better still, take over the whole retreat.

READ: 4 top hikes in the mountains of Magoebaskloof

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

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