5 Hidden Gems Just Outside Gauteng

The secret is out! If you’re looking for some unique experiences to try outside of Johannesburg and Pretoria, then look no further. The warmer weather is coming back – well, that’s what I keep telling myself. So if you’re already thinking of cool things to try when Spring arrives then hopefully this list will breathe some life into your usual schedule. If you would like to try some unique experiences that you may not have thought of before – then keep reading to find out.

Strawberry Picking

Instead of going to buy fruit from a shop – why not go to a farm and pick the fruit yourself? It certainly makes for an affordable and enjoyable day outing.

The Tangaroa Strawberry Farm is in Hartbeespoort, South Africa and it’s the perfect day trip from the usual bustle of the city. You could have a picnic, look for strawberries to eat or roll around in the veggie patch. The main attraction on the farm is to pick strawberries but there are other fruits to pick such as mulberries, apricots and a whole lot of vegetables!

The entrance fee into the farm is R50 and this will allow you to eat as much as you can fit into your stomach! If you wish to take any strawberries home then there is an extra charge of R50 per kg. This price is a lot more affordable than buying berries from any supermarket and everything grown on the farm is organic.

Strawberry season technically ends in December but depending on rainfall, it could end sooner. Tangaroa Farm is only open to the public on Saturday and Sunday. The best time to go would be Saturday morning because you get to eat the Strawberries before all the good ones are eaten.

Tips On How To Live Your Zoi – Strawberry picking 

  • Go early October when the season has started and there are lots of fruits to choose from.
  • Make sure to take sunscreen, a hat and water because there isn’t much shade.
  • Taking a pocket knife could be useful for picking fruits and vegetables.
  • Try out the restaurant’s Fresh Strawberry milkshake – you can thank me later.

Dinner Under  The Stars

If you enjoy the outdoors but picking up fruits isn’t your thing, then why not spend some time in the African bush? Bakubang Bush Lodge is really close to Sun City so it’s not a far drive from Jozi and Pretoria. It’s a beautiful place with a great atmosphere. They have game drives with lots of wildlife and that’s always fun to see. When I was there, the ranger would not rest until we saw all the Big 5 animals. The game drive went over the specified time limit but the driver would not rest until we all saw what we wanted to see. Talk about incredible service! I will never grow tired of game drives.

So you might ask, what makes Bakubang different? There’s a lot of lodges that offer game drives in South Africa so this place needs to offer something really unique to make it on this list, right?

Bakubang stands out to me because of their authentic dining experience. You get driven away from the lodge and into the raw African bush. You’ll have dinner under the stars away from civilization. Spending time away from the hustle and bustle and away from cars will give your soul some much-needed relaxation. The candles and the stars are the only source of light for the entire dinner. It was a magical experience I won’t forget. You’ll even be graced with a special African traditional performance.

I would recommend staying over at Bakubang as the dinner could finish quite late and it might be too far to drive back home.

Just a side note: ask for a room that’s guaranteed to not have any bats because I had a bat flying around my room at 11pm. I only realised this when I wanted to fall asleep. Of course, I didn’t get any sleep that night. The bat kept flying into walls and I was terrified that it would fall onto my face. So naturally, I hid under the duvet and didn’t sleep a wink the whole night. Apart from that though – the experience was really awesome.

 

Black Horse Brewery

Some of you may already know about this place, but if you don’t then you need to get yourself to Black Horse Brewery ASAP! They have brewery tours and distillery tours. You could just have lunch at their restaurant and wander around their grounds. Walk down the pathway and go say hi to their horses. Marvel at the views of the Zeekoeihoek Valley or shop at their gift shop. It’s a lovely place to spend the afternoon but make sure to make a booking well in advance as it is always busy.

AmaZwingZwing

I had my first zip-lining experience at Amazingwe. Located close to the Hartbeespoort dam, you will be zip-lining in the Cradle of Humankind! There are 7 slides that you will descend from and they range from 2 metres to 14 metres high. If you’re lucky, you’ll see some wildlife down below as you descend. It’s loads of fun and it’ll give you a bit of an adrenaline rush. Not too much of a rush though, zip-lining isn’t dangerous at all.

The staff is professional and you’ll be in safe hands. If you want some pictures taken – just ask and they will be happy to take some snaps of you. The longest zip-line is 240 metres long. Enjoy the view of the Magaliesberg mountain range from the platforms; it’s an incredible sight. If you’re a student then bring along your student card as this will give you a discount on the zip-line. You’ll also receive a meal voucher to eat at Amazingwe. It’ll be a great way to spend the day outside of the city. I’ve been to Amazingwe twice and both experiences have been exceptional. Amazingwe also has other fun activities like quad biking and elephant walks that you should check out too.

Ann Van Dyk Cheetah Centre

I arrived at the Ann Van Dyk Cheetah Centre on a miserable day. It was cold and rainy in Brits, Hartbeespoort and I was not well prepared (or well dressed) for the weather. On the plus side, there wasn’t a lot of visitors that day (only four people, including myself) and we received lots of personalised attention. The 3 hour guided tour started with an educational video on how Ann Van Dyk founded the cheetah centre in 1971. We then proceeded to the vehicle which kickstarted the tour. The centre looks after loads of different animals (and not just cheetahs).

I learnt so much about the different animals, learnt about their different stories. The tour highlighted the habits of us humans and how detrimental it is for wildlife. For example, the centre also looks after endangered vultures. Vultures are not what we would typically call ‘cute’ and ‘cuddly’ and not many conservationists put effort into protecting endangered vultures. African vultures are dying because of poachers drugging wildlife and in effect wiping off vultures too. Poachers intentionally target vultures because their presence will alert authorities of illegally killed wildlife. Vultures are also killed by electrocution and collision with our power lines. These are some of the ways that humans are wiping off an integral part of the eco-system.

I learnt so much about the different animals and I enjoyed driving through the reserve and watching the animals while they got fed. The Ann Van Dyk Cheetah Centre was an educational and enlightening experience. They have a variety of tours and every contribution to the tours will help look after the animals. In the end, I loved every second of the tour and the miserable weather did not put a damper on my experience.

Share your thoughts

If you have any hidden gems that I need to know about then let me know in the comments below. Don’t forget to share this blog post if you liked it and keep me posted if you tried my suggestions.

 

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