Looking for weekend getaways near Johannesburg? There are plenty of quaint towns, national parks and game reserves to choose from, so many in fact that sifting through them all can be overwhelming. To simplify the process, we’ve done all the hard work for you and have compiled five top weekend getaway spots close to the City of Gold.
Pilansberg National Park – 2.5 hours
Situated north of Rustenburg in the North West Province, the Pilanesberg National Park is one of the most accessible parks in South Africa and the fourth largest in the country. Interestingly, the park is nestled within the crater of an ancient volcano, formed 1.2 billion years ago. This makes for some incredible rock formations and a totally unique landscape. This ecologically-rich area is home to not only the Big 5, but also African wild dog, cheetah, Sable antelope, wildebeest and Oryx, among others. The Pilansberg National Park is also a bird-lovers paradise, with over 300 different recorded species. Photographic hides and bird hides provide excellent vantage points for wildlife and bird viewing. There are more than seven different accommodation types to choose from, ranging from self catering to exclusive-use lodges. Along with game drives and walking safaris, the park also offers hot air ballooning, allowing your experience unbeatable views of the bushveld and wildlife below.
Kruger National Park – 4.5 hours
Kruger National Park is the definition of a South African safari. Situated just 4 and a half hours’ drive from Johannesburg, it’s a convenient weekend destination for locals and international visitors alike. One of the largest national parks in Africa, it covers an area of 9,485 km2 in the Mpumalanga and Limpopo provinces. There are 9 different gates through which to enter Kruger, however, the closest to Johannesburg is Malelane Gate. The sheer volume of wildlife in Kruger National Park is staggering. Predators and scavengers such as cheetah, lion, leopard, spotted hyena and African wild dog are major draw-cards, as are large mammals such as elephant, buffalo, rhino, giraffe and eland. A delight for ‘Twitchers’, the park is home to the Big Six Bird – kori bustard, martial eagle, saddle-billed stork, lapped-faced vulture, Pel’s fishing owl and ground hornbill – along with more than 500 other species. Featured accommodation includes rest camps, luxury lodges and guest cottages.
Dullstroom – 3 hours
A list of weekend getaway spots around Johannesburg wouldn’t be complete without the cosy town of Dullstroom; fly-fishing capital of South Africa and Panorama Route treasure. Located an easy 3 hour drive from Joburg, Dullstroom is a tourist hub that attracts thousands of visitors annually. It boasts a thriving culinary scene, a wide variety of artisan shops and art galleries, stunning scenery and much more. Among the countless charming accommodation options, Walkersons Hotel & Spa is a stand-out for good reason. The hotel features 27 country suites and 5 stylish self-catering cottages to choose from, 14 different dams and small lakes for fly-fishing, a network of paved walkways around the estate, 2 world-class restaurants and an onsite spa.
uKhahlamba Drakensberg Park – 4.5 hours
Forming part of a World Heritage Site, the uKhahlamba-Drakensberg Park can be found in KwaZulu-Natal, only 4-and-a-bit hours drive from Joburg. As the name suggests, it covers a portion of the Drakensberg, a spectacular escarpment formation with the highest elevations in the country. Explore rolling grasslands, lush valleys, towering cliffs and dramatic gorges through activities such as hiking, mountain biking, horse riding and boating. Along with breathtaking views around every corner, a highlight of any trip to the uKhahlamba-Drakensberg Park is a magnificent collection of San rock art thousands of years old. There are more than 20 000 individual rock paintings recorded at 500 separate caves, the largest concentrated group in Southern Africa. Accommodation in the park takes the form of mountain cabins, self-catering chalets, safari lodges and camping.
Magaliesburg – 1.5 hours
A little closer to home, but no less enticing, the sleepy river-side town of Magaliesburg is nestled in the Witwatersberg on the border between Gauteng and the North West. The rugged natural landscape is absolutely stunning and there are countless ways to explore the outdoors. Hike to waterfalls, discover caves in the Cradle of Humankind, try your hand at fishing, soar on a hot air balloon safari or get your heart racing with a canopy tour. It’s no wonder why Magaliesburg is one of the most popular weekend escapes for city folk. Accommodation wise, there is something for everyone: self-catering cottage, game lodges, B&Bs and guest houses.
For more information about weekend getaways near Johannesburg or to book your stay at Walkersons Hotel & Spa in Dullstroom, simply get in touch with our friendly team. And for more travel tips in Mpumalanga and beyond, keep an eye on our regularly updated blog.