The attractive village of Muldersdrift lies about 15 minutes north of Johannesburg and borders the Magaliesberg mountains. It’s an area that welcomes those wishing to escape to the country. It abounds with wedding venues and farms, country hotels, restaurants, pubs and bars (popular on weekends) and a number of lovely spas, much appreciated by travellers and city folk alike.
A world heritage site, game-viewing and adventure sports draw in both local and international visitors. Buggy rides and 4 x 4 off-road tracks in the area are popular with adrenalin chasers. The area is lush thanks to creeks and rivers and many artists and craftspeople have chosen to settle on smallholdings here. It’s a happening spot without being busy.
History will remember Muldersdrift for a famous arrest. At the turn of the previous century, 500 British adventurers conspired to take over the Transvaal Republic in what became known as the Jameson Raid. The conspiracy’s leader, Leander Starr Jameson, was, however, caught at Muldersdrift and became a prisoner of war.
The area is also known as the Cradle of Humankind, which is a world heritage site that includes the Sterkfontein Caves, where three-million years of human activity has taken place.
The Maropeng Visitors Centre (seven kilometres north of the caves) explains the importance of the palaeo-anthropological riches (hominid fossils, such as Mrs Ples and Little Foot, and stone tools) discovered here. There are 40 different fossil sites, 13 of which have been excavated.
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The Rhino and Lion Nature Reserve is located in the Cradle of Humankind and houses more than 30 game species, including buffalo and rhino, which move about move freely. Predators such as lions, hyenas and wild dogs can be visited in a separate, secure area of the park. Visitors can picnic and braai and stay overnight in luxury chalets or log cabins. Day- and night-time game drives are available. Breeding programmes with wild dogs, white lions and tigers are currently under way. Have a sundowner at the Crocodile pub and watch the crocodiles. The animal creche, where visitors can cuddle lion and tiger cubs, is a highlight.
Located on the property of the Rhino and Lion Nature Reserve, the Wonder Cave requires a trip down a 40-metre mine shaft but, once inside, visitors are treated to a huge underground chamber filled with wonders, such as a “Madonna” carved by nature, stalactites and stalagmites, and rim-stone pools. More adventurous visitors can opt to abseil into the cave.
Country watering holes abound in Muldersdrift, and range from “ye olde” English pubs such as the Teaspoon & Tankard and the Warriors Arms to more unusual venues, such as the Pitstop Diner. An American-style diner in a converted bus serving Greek-inspired fast food, the scruffy-chic dive is a popular hangout for Harley Davidson motorcyclists.
Ngwenya Glass Village is a quaint retail craft village of about eight shops. Virtually everything here has a handmade aspect to it, including the recycled glass goblets from the on-site glass-blowing factory.
Gilroy’s craft micro-brewery, located on the same site as the Ngwenya Glass Village, attracts ale-quaffers in their droves – especially at weekends, when there’s live music and pub food in the mix.
A popular Muldersdrift attraction is the ethnic-inspired venue, The Carnivore Johannesburg, where diners can sample 15 kinds of meat, ranging from quality beef and lamb to antelope, warthog and crocodile presented on custom-made spears.
Casalinga Restorante Italiano started out as the place to escape to for a lengthy and elegant Italian country lunch. Now gourmets also go there for connoisseur’s coffee from the Green Bean Roastery, a weekend country market and vegetarian fare at the Leafy Greens Cafe.
Even couch potatoes will be glad they ditched the sofa for the fun, family-friendly outdoor activities on offer at A-maize-ing Mazes near Muldersdrift. Team up and solve puzzles while navigating dozens of dead-ends to find the way out. It is maddening fun.
Random Harvest is a tranquil indigenous nursery and eco-farm with a delectable tea garden, where you can enjoy light meals and teatime treats prepared fresh from homemade and home-grown ingredients.