In our previous post, we shared our favorite Gauteng day trips. This one is all about our overnight stays in Gauteng during lockdown.
The Magaliesberg mountain range is surrounded by a slightly odd assortment of nature reserves, accommodation of various types, settlements and chicken farms. There are plenty of ‘things to do’, although these tend to be of the slightly dodgy country restaurant and quad biking variety so we prefer finding a place to stay where you can just relax on the property. There is no shortage of accommodation, but this time we opted for Saamrus (https://saamrus.co.za/ ) a lovely guest farm not far from Magaliesberg town. Accommodation is in private self catering cottages of various sizes (dog friendly, if that floats your boat) some of which have great views but these are only accessible by 4×4. The property has a great 5km circular hike which traverses an interesting variety of terrain, which makes for some good birding. There is also a pool. A great option for a chilled weekend.
This may surprise you,but Bronkhorstspruit to the east of Pretoria has a lot going for it. There is the Anton Smit sculpture park which you can read more about here. There is the largest Buddhist temple in Africa, the Fo Guang Shan Nan Hua temple, which is well worth a visit. Then there is the Ezemvelo nature reserve which is a highveld grassland reserve with range of excellent hiking trails and self drive routes. The spectacular Wilge river valley winds it’s way through the whole area. Ezemvelo offers simple chalets, camping and overnight hiking huts but we opted for a weekend at a nearby. Angel’s Rock (http://angelsrock.co.za/) is a gloriously isolated cottage on a conservancy close to the Wilge River. The cottage sleeps 4 (2 in a loft) and has an amazing deck and rock pool. The Wilge River is a short walk away (where we saw otters!) and the whole property has great bird life. Ezemvelo is close as the crow flies, but quite far by road.
Gauteng’s only big 5 reserve is situated north of Pretoria near Hammanskraal. It’s a reasonably new reserve and is a bit strange, with some areas still fenced off and a public road running through the middle of it. That said, there are a number of great accommodation options, and a cleverly designed self-drive route. The big 5 themselves can be hard to find but there is a good variety of general game and spectacular birding including Gauteng’s only breeding pair of martial eagles. Our accommodation recommendations are The Lookout (http://www.lookoutsafarilodge.co.za/) for self-catering chalets and Kyleu bushcamp (http://kyleu.co.za/) for (unfenced) bush camping.