Photo by Thomas Bennie on Unsplash.
When you feel like the city is closing in on you after a year of being semi-cooped up during various lockdown levels, it’s certainly good to know that within two hours from Jozi you can find anything from a bush break, scenic mountain views to a quick country escape.
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From the great expanses of the Vaal in the south to witnessing the Big 5 in Dinokeng to the north, adventure awaits you on the city’s doorstep. With this in mind, we jumped in our Suzuki Vitara Brezza and headed out in search of city escapes to fit your budget and adventurous spirit.
Loosely translated to “a place of rivers”, the Dinokeng Game Reserve offers 18 500ha of unspoilt bushveld an easy hour’s drive from Pretoria. Offering you Africa in a day, you will enjoy a good range of game viewing (with the Big Five present in certain sections) and a wide array of activities tailored for families of all shapes and sizes. 4x4 enthusiasts can take their Jimny on one of the many 4x4 trails in the reserve, while the fitter visitors can enjoy many hiking and mountain biking trails. Romantics can enjoy luxury glamping, while the recently renovated Dinokeng Resort offers some great water fun for the little ones. The comprehensive accommodation options in the area will suit every taste and budget – whether you want to live it up in luxury or pitch a tent you’ll find the perfect spot to enjoy a well-deserved bush break.
If beautiful and serene nature is more your scene, why not head out to Magaliesberg? Bordering on the Hartbeespoort Dam, this mountain range forms the natural border with the North West Province and is only 90 minutes from the city. By far, the most popular activities in the area include hiking and mountain biking. There are many breathtaking trails to choose from. Staying over in one of the wide range of accommodation options that cater for every need allows you to admire the mountain top views from the Hartbeespoort Aerial cableway or enjoy a romantic hot air balloon ride with your significant other. If you have not experienced a sunrise from the basket of a soaring hot air balloon, you have not lived. Try it – I promise you will not be disappointed. Of course, Magaliesberg is just a stone’s throw from the Cradle of Humankind. The place where it all began, this UNESCO world heritage site offers even more cultural, historical and adventure activities.
A tad further north, located in the crater of an ancient volcano, we found the Pilanesberg Nature Reserve. This ecological haven is only 150km from Pretoria and boasts a healthy population of lions, leopards, elephants, buffalo, and rhino as well as most plains game and amazing birdlife. The highly endangered African wild dog was reintroduced into the park in 1998 and has been successful in breeding and survival. As a bonus, the park is situated next to Sun City, always a perfect family getaway!
For our watersport-loving friends, the Vaal Dam – around 80km south of Johannesburg – is the second largest dam in South Africa by area and boasts an incredible 800km of shoreline fed by the Vaal River. Not surprisingly, this is a huge attraction for anglers, birders, and watersports enthusiasts. Many venues offer boat cruises and even the option to rent a houseboat. From the area, the quaint, artsy Parys is a short hour and a half away, while young families will find the Emerald Resort and Casino on the Vaal River’s banks a perfect day out.
Another popular weekend spot is Cullinan, around 20 minutes from Pretoria. Perfect for a weekend hideaway, this historic town is characterised by a sleepy main street lined with Edwardian-era mining cottages that now house cosy cafés and quirky antique and art shops. Just outside of town, the scenic Muningi Gorge is home to some adrenaline-pumping activities including zip-lining (there is even a full moon night-time option!), quad safaris, abseiling, horse riding and hiking. You can also take a game drive or take a tour of the historical diamond mine where the biggest diamond ever was discovered.
We live in an absolutely gorgeous country, even within city limits! Have we inspired you to head out? Remember the golden holiday road trip rules we put together for you: The ultimate guide to planning a holiday road trip.
Make sure your car is ready for your holiday road trip. Download Suzuki’s 'preparing your car for a long drive' checklist.
South Africa offers some of the most beautiful scenery and adventure destinations, some within a stone’s throw from the city. Why not book a test drive in your favourite Suzuki and head out to explore!
Photo by Thomas Bennie on Unsplash