Jo’burg is a great city to live in. Even if you’ve been here your whole life, there’s always something new to see and do – or an old favourite to revisit. Nothing stays the same for very long anyway. It’s alive and it’s invigorating, but sometimes it does all get a bit much. When that happens the best thing to do for yourself is take time out and find someplace quiet, preferably in nature, to recharge. If you relate, then we’ve got just the thing courtesy of 5 Jozi-based creatives: A wonderful selection of destinations outside of the city – but not too far – that are perfect for a day trip or a weekend away. So pack your bags, hop in the car, blast the 10and5 roadtrip playlist, and enjoy a much-deserved break from the hustle!
Nicole van Heerden of VATIC: Belfast
The “farm” as we call it is situated within the Highlands Meander outside of Belfast in Mpumalanga. It’s 2,5 hours outside of Jo’burg, I’ve been going there since I was 10 years old. The sandstone cottage is alongside a large trout dam and the adjacent farm has a beautiful river that we hike along and swim in. At 2025m above sea level it’s considered as one of the coldest and highest towns in South Africa, so needless to say – you don’t get fresher air than this. The nearby towns of Dullstroom, Tonteldoos and Kaapschehoop all offer lots of variety for a day trip.
Jeff and Kerryn-Lee of Pass The Map: Wakkerstroom
Picture Dullstroom 30 years ago. Before townhouse complexes and bachelorette parties. Before supermarkets and franchised bars. Wakkerstroom might be a little further from Jozi than Mpumalanga’s more illustrious stroom, but in our opinion the extra half hour in the car is totally worth it.
If you’re looking for a jol, look somewhere else. But if you’re keen to unplug, catch up on some reading beside a fire, and get some fresh mountain air in your face, it’s hard to beat. The town (it’s more of a village really) boasts a couple of excellent restaurants and some interesting second-hand shops. There are also some great walks and drives in the area, through rolling hills and farmlands, and around the town’s pristine wetlands. Oh, and for something completely random, you can go check out some alpacas on a nearby farm.
Don’t forget to pack plenty of red wine, your book and a pair of walking shoes. And take some binoculars along – it’s one of South Africa’s best birding areas. Switch off your phone and say goodbye to the rat race for a few days. You won’t be disappointed.
Remy Raitt: Groot Marico
Nestled in the North West Province, somewhere between the Magaliesburg and the Botswana border, lies the unassuming town of Groot Marico. Situated in the Limpopo River basin, the rivers that run past the town are the only perennial streams in the basin that produce clean, drinkable water. RiverStill is a guest house on the banks of the river run by a guy named Jacques, who moved to The Marico 20-odd years ago after he was diagnosed with cancer. The clear air, fresh water, and boundless space seem to have done him well.
About 40km from RiverStill, along a dry, dusty and bumpy road that winds through the valley, lies an otherworldly pool of water, the Oog, or Eye. Surrounded by a wall of bulrushes, waterlilies and pads freckle the pond, and in the spaces between the water plants the sun shines through into crystal clear water to reveal more emerald vegetation – a magical underwater world.
Maaike Bakker: Nirox Foundation Sculpture Park
One of my favourite locations just 45 minutes outside of Johannesburg is the Nirox Foundation Sculpture Park, which is located in the vicinity of the Cradle of Humankind. The sculpture park features a massive landscaped garden, which showcases a variety of outdoor sculptures by established South African artists. The sculpture garden is the perfect spot to visit if you feel like escaping the city for a few hours without having to travel too far. This spot is an absolute favourite due its combination of art and nature. The sculpture park also often hosts events such as the upcoming Jazz in the Cradle. After exploring the garden, make sure that you stop by Leafy Greens, a vegan restaurant which is only also in the Muldersdrift area.
Anna-Belle Durrant: Clarens
ANTIQUES AND CAKE! Need I say more? Clarens feels like you’re a million miles away from Jo’burg with its incredible mountain views, antique stores and flipping delicious restaurants and a bakery that makes my mouth water just thinking about it. They’ve also got their own brewery that’s walking distance from most of the hotels in the area and there’s a list longer than my arm of activities to keep you busy!