Book Weekend Getaways to Escape to from Johannesburg

Rediscover nature at the Woolly Bugger Farm  | Courtesy of Woolly Bugger Farm
Rediscover nature at the Woolly Bugger Farm | Courtesy of Woolly Bugger Farm
Photo of Pierre de Villiers
22 September 2021

Johannesburg has round-the-clock energy that’s both exciting and exhausting. When South Africa’s city of gold starts to lose its lustre, it’s time to nip off for a restorative weekend break – now bookable on Culture Trip.

Nicknamed the ‘New York of Africa’, Johannesburg is a bustling metropolis that’s all attitude and nervous energy. While tuning into Joburg’s frequency is exhilarating, it can be tiring – making a quick, rejuvenating weekend away beyond the city limits a must. Fortunately, there are plenty of places to decompress before the city of gold beckons you back. Here are some of the best weekend getaways from South Africa’s larger-than-life city.

Kloofzicht Lodge and Spa

Lodge, Spa Hotel
Kloofzicht Lodge & Spa
Courtesy of Kloofzicht Lodge and Spa / Expedia
Let’s start at the very beginning. Located at the foothills of the Zwartkops Mountains less than an hour from Joburg, Kloofzicht Lodge & Spa is part of the Cradle of Humankind site, where fossils and tools of early humans were discovered. If the anthropological significance doesn’t blow your mind, the views from the suites certainly will – six serene fly-fishing dams and the Blaauwbank Spruit cutting through Zwartkops Gorge are enough to excite any holidaymaker.
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Komati Gorge Lodge

Lodge
Map View
Komati Gorge Lodge
Courtesy of Komati Gorge Lodge / Booking.com
It won’t take you long to shake off the city at this remote lodge in Mpumalanga – just three hours from Joburg. Stay here and you have more than 6,178 acres (2,500ha) of bushveld and highveld grassland as your playground. Go fly-fishing, biking, bird watching, join a 4×4 game drive or simply ramble through dramatic gorges and dense forests here. If you can fit it in amongst all the activities, there’s a spa to rest some weary bones and sore muscles.

Mabalingwe Nature Reserve

Guesthouse
Map View

In the Setswana language – one of the 11 official languages of South Africa – Mabalingwe means ‘spots of the leopard’ and the shy predator is indeed one of the animals you might see on a night game drive at this Limpopo nature reserve. For kids, a visit to Mabalingwe is both educational and fun. Mini-golf tournaments and face painting are interspersed with an eco-tainment programme that teaches tree identification, tracking skills and water purification.

Mongena Game Lodge

Lodge
Mongena Game Lodge
Courtesy of Mongena Game Lodge / Expedia
A veritable Noah’s Ark of animals awaits at Mongena in the malaria-free, northwestern corner of the Dinokeng Game Reserve, just 90 minutes out of Joburg. Joining the five stars of the show – lion, elephant, rhino, buffalo and leopard – are a supporting cast of zebra, hippo, giraffe and crocodile that you can size up from an open-top 4X4 – or a boat as it cruises around the local dam. Don’t forget the binoculars: there are also 300 bird species, including fish eagles and martial eagles.
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  • Highlands Mountain Retreat

    Independent Hotel
    Map View
    Highlands Mountain Retreat,Golden Gate,Eastern Free State Province
    © J Great Stock / Alamy Stock Photo
    Perched at around 2,200m (7,217ft) above sea level – with sweeping views of the surrounding Maluti Mountains – the eight log cabins of the Highlands Mountain Retreat truly take you away from it all. If you wondered why the national park – where the retreat is located, about 320km (200mi) from Joburg – is called Golden Gate, just wait until the sun hits the sandstone cliffs and outcrops and everything becomes bathed in a warm yellow glow.

    Manyane Resort

    Resort
    Manyane Resort
    Courtesy of Manyane Resort / Expedia
    For those who don’t want to splash too much cash on their weekend getaway, Manyane in the Pilanesberg National Park, just over a two-hour drive from Joburg, offers a range of basic but undeniably charming budget options. Choose between a rustic safari tent for two, thatched African-style chalets with private patios and braai areas, or some modern studio rooms. Once unpacked, there’s a lot to keep you busy – including game drives, hiking trails and occasional tribal dance performances.
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    Cherry Grove Luxury Apartment 8

    Apartment
    Map View

    Don’t let the functional name fool you. The small village of Dullstroom – 262km (163mi) from Jozi – where Cherry Grove is located is anything but boring. In one of the country’s best fishing spots, you can hit the trout route past two waterfalls, or do some fly-fishing in a number of streams and dams. Hang with apex predators at the Bird of Prey Centre and pause at the coffee roastery, before blazing away at a clay pigeon shooting range and knocking back a few at the Anvil Ale Brewery – preferably in that order.

    Villa Paradiso

    Hotel
    Villa Paradiso
    Courtesy of Villa Paradiso / Booking.com
    Expect a few wedding parties to blow through Villa Paradiso while you’re here – an on-site chapel and beautiful surroundings make this boutique hotel at the foot of the Magaliesberg Mountains a prized spot for nuptials. It might not be your special day but the local spa will make you feel like it is, while the Upstairs @ Villa Paradiso restaurant is one of the best spots in the region for lunch, offering wonderful views of the mountains and the Hartbeespoort Dam – all of this is just an hour’s drive away from Joburg.
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    Glenburn Lodge and Spa

    Lodge, Spa Hotel
    Glenburn Lodge
    Courtesy of Glenburn Lodge / Expedia
    Just 30 minutes from Johannesburg, Glenburn is the ultimate need-a-break bolthole – especially since the luxury lodge is an area that’s ideal for hot-air balloon safaris due to some favourable flying conditions. You’ll be floating over a landscape that’s both fascinating – the hotel is situated within the World Heritage Cradle of Humankind – and picturesque, thanks to the Zwartkops Mountains. And be glad you’re in the air: that’s the Crocodile River below you.
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    This is a rewrite of an article originally written by Carina Claassens.

    These recommendations were updated on September 22, 2021 to keep your travel plans fresh. This article is an updated version of a story created by Pierre de Villiers

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