The village of Magaliesburg lies at the foot of the ancient Magaliesberg mountains, a peaceful haven in a landscape born of massive geological turbulence. It is roughly an hour’s drive from Johannesburg and Pretoria and is well-placed to reach four attractions that spill over the Gauteng/North West provincial border – the Cradle of Humankind, the Crocodile Ramble (an arts and crafts route along the Crocodile River), Sun City and the Hartbeespoort Dam.
Abundant rivers and streams caused this area to find favour with farmers, and later gold prospectors arrived when the yellow metal was discovered in the latter half of the 1800s. Construction of a railway line through the village added to its strategic importance. Magaliesberg was subsequently occupied by the British during the Anglo-Boer War of 1902- 1904.
A clutch of homely lodges and eateries began operating in Magaliesburg and its surrounds some decades back, and although newer, trendier properties in the “boutique” vein have opened more recently, Magaliesburg retains its country vibe. Alongside guesthouses and restaurants, the area offers an impressive array of adventure activities such as abseiling and rock climbing, more sedate pursuits such as horse-riding and fishing, arts and crafts shopping, and a growing number of health spas. Many of them are located on a tourist route dubbed the Magalies Meander.
Located on urban Gauteng’s doorstep, the Magaliesberg has become a popular conference destination, and its scenic setting and romantic country lodges have done well as weekend wedding venues.
Look out for
The Magaliesberg Canopy Tour takes you whizzing over the tree tops of the Ysterhout Kloof in a two-and-a-half-hour eco-adventure, sliding along steel cables between 11 platforms. Other Magaliesberg sky-bound adventures are hot air ballooning and microlighting.
You can don a hard hat for a taste of old-time gold panning at the Blaauwbank Gold Mine, which also affords a magnificent view of the village. This is a world of coco pans, picks and shovels. The mini-tour lasts 45 minutes and a more in-depth underground exploration takes two hours.
Van Gaalen Kaasmakerij, a cheese factory, is a popular Magaliesberg stop. The cheese is produced according to traditional Dutch methods. You can taste the different varieties and lunch on a cheese menu on a verandah overlooking a dam.
Shop for crystals and semi-precious stones at Crystal Feelings, for tasty home-made condiments at Western Cane Trading or for citrus wine at the Monate Sitruskelder.