Festive outings this December at the
Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site
If you are one of the wise souls who’ve decided to avoid the lemming-like rush to the coast this Christmas and stay in Joburg, congratulate yourself, because there is lots to do just a stone’s throw away from the city. You need look no further than the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site, a haven for everything fun, from hiking and lunching to spa treatments and shopping.
The ideal day trip destination, the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site is famous for its Sterkfontein Caves where the earliest hominid fossils were found. A visit to Maropeng, the spectacular official visitor centre for the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site, is a must do on the itinerary, but wonderful lodges, lunch venues and craft shops have mushroomed in the area over the past five years, giving you the opportunity to tailor-make many special day outings.
In the nearby Magaliesburg and surrounds, if you like a bit of action, you can go hiking, biking, hot air ballooning, horse-riding or golfing. Take your pick.
Popular places include Mountain Sanctuary Park, a natural unspoilt nature reserve with streams and pools and Rustenburg Nature Reserve, which offers good walking trails among game.
Roberts Farm Horse Trails offers 40km of riding trails on a cattle and crop farm nestled in the Magaliesberg, and there’s excellent fly-fishing at the eco-friendly Magaliesburg Barbus Haven. Ingwe Bush Camp, meanwhile, is perfect bushveld biking country.
If you’d rather stop for lunch, try Ambrosia Country Restaurant, with its cosy bar and pizza oven.
There are also some marvellous shops in the area. Maropeng has a superbly stocked African curio shop, with a wide range of African heritage gifts, ideal for both overseas visitors and someone special.
Not to be missed is the new-look Ngwenya Village, and Crystal Feeling, selling the full range of crystals, minerals, fossils, gemstones, jewellery, books, music, icons, dream catchers and other artifacts of interest to the collector and students of the metaphysical
Do make a turn at an exciting new addition to the destination, Roseberry Hill Country Shop, where crafters have gone all out for their first Christmas here, selling gorgeous Christmas decorations and gifts.
Another good shopping experience is Blaaubank Original Store in Magaliesburg, full of collectables, arts, crafts, antiques and quality kitchen baskets, and Western Cane Trading, a charming establishment selling cane, Oregon and wrought iron furniture.
If, however, you’d like to just chill out and be spoilt, try Satori – Place of Healing, which specialises in Reiki treatment, an ancient form of energy healing, or Rosewell Spa, which boasts an indoor spa plunge pool, mineral therapy ponds, steam room, hot stone massages.
Whispering Pines Country Estate in Magaliesburg is another fabulous spa, as is Sparkling Health Spa in Rustenburg.
Another world of country pleasures embraced by the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site lies to the north, in the Crocodile Ramble, which includes Hartebeespoort Dam.
Try lunching at the delightful Bellgables Country restaurant nestled in the valley of the surrounding Zwartkop Hills. This is Baroque-style opulence at its indulgent best, and it has won several prestigious awards for dining.
Another worthy choice, further north, is Die Ou Pastorie, which serves stylish lunches in a historic 115-year-old homestead next to a 200-year-old wild olive tree. If too much wine is tippled, just book in for the night.
Leopard Lodge is another great lunch venue with a true African feel. Its Sunday buffets are very popular, so booking is essential.
Again, there are plenty of activities for the whole family to enjoy, especially on and surrounding the dam. A big hit with kids is Croc City, home to more than 800 crocodiles ranging from hatchlings to large adults of over four metres in length.
But if you’re on your own, try slipping off the radar at Hakunamatata Estate and Health Spa, which offers great day packages. Christmas shoppers will have a choice selection in these parts, especially those looking for plants, pottery, arts and craft.
Ennis Nursery and Tea Garden offers a wide range of indigenous and exotic plants, as well as a variety of hardware, and Herb-Bee, on the banks of the Crocodile stream, is a lovely organic herb, chilli and honey farm where you can also picnic and buy local crafts, herb and chilli plants.
Drop in too at Potters Inn, and find an impressive handmade stone pottery, art, assorted beadwork, Swarovski crystal and echo-therapy bath products.
So start planning a few day-trips this Christmas in The Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site, and go on holiday without going on holiday!
Visit the links alongside for more information.