48 hours in Hartbeespoort Dam

By 09:05

I have been so tired at work lately that I was desperately in need of a break. I don’t generally associate holidays or weekend getaways as relaxing. I often try to squeeze in all the tourist things possible into one weekend and come back even more exhausted. Going away to a small town not too far from home and with not much to do actually gave me some time to relax.

Pumleni Guesthouse
We left Joburg on Friday and arrived in Harties in less than an hour. We stayed at Pumleni Guesthouse, a semi self-catering guesthouse. The room rates covered breakfast and I wasn’t too fussed about the guesthouse not serving dinner as I wanted to experience the restaurants Harties had to offer. Pumleni is very close to the dam and all the tourist attractions. It is situated in front of the Magaliesberg Mountain range and just behind the dam so as we had beautiful views coming to and leaving the guesthouse.

Walk/run through Harties
I’m trying to get into an exercise routine so I didn’t want my weekend away to get in the way of that goal so we walked around Harties A LOT admiring the views and breathing in such fresh air. If you cycle or run, you’ll definitely like the views of the dam and Magaliesberg from the road. There are stunning country-side trails as well if you don’t like being on the road.

Siesta Tapas Bistro
I love eating a lot of small dishes instead of one big meal so when I heard about this little restaurant, I had to try it out. It was a block away from Pumleni Guesthouse so we walked there. They offer themed platters such as seafood, vegetarian, etc. but we decided to choose our own tapas. The dishes are slightly bigger than restaurants starter menu offerings so try not to order all your tapas at once. You must try the rack of lamb – 2 succulent lamb chops served with grilled veggies smothered in lamb flavour and roasted baby potatoes. There’s a very extensive wine list and a cellar where you can pick out your wine from.

Hartbeespoort Dam
We drove around trying to find a spot on the banks of the dam to just chill but alas, it seems like that is all private property so we settled on checking out the dam wall instead. There’s a road that comes from around the one side of the dam, through a tunnel and over the top of the dam wall. We parked aside and walked the top of the dam wall. It was the first time I’ve been on a dam wall and it was absolutely breath-taking. It was amazing to see how this man-made dam held back so much water. Even better than that was looking at the little streams into where the dam lets out its excess water.

Aerial Cableway
Next we took the cable car up to a high point on the mountain to overlook all of Hartbeespoort Dam. I’ve been on a cable car before to Table Mountain but this was a completely different experience. The cars are max 6-seater so it’s intimate if you have a small group of friends. There is virtually no wait and once you get to the top, the little walk around all the viewing points is so short. There are panoramic views of the dam, the majestic Magaliesberg and surrounding areas – you can even see the Northgate Coca-Cola Dome from up there. There’s a little curio shop, a pizzeria and a bar which stole the best from all of the eating joints. We settled on a cafĂ© called Bugatti. I liked the name and that it was an indoor restaurant with glass windows so you still get a nice view but you miss all that cold wind. It is a self-service restaurant though which means you pay and help yourself to the buffet or burger bar.

Afternoon naps
I am such a busy woman that I hardly have time to get my eight hours of sleep a night let alone take an afternoon nap. How refreshing to just draw the curtains and snooze for a while on a comfy hotel bed before heading out again.

AfricanSwiss Restaurant
Hidden far from the dam is this little restaurant that promises a fusion between South African and Swiss/German cuisine. It’s quaint with a great country-side feel to it. If you come for lunch, you can leave your kids at the little play area while you wait for your food. The food does take a while to prepare so try a German beer while you wait. I recommend the pork belly with brakwurst. The different elements on the plate take away the richness from just having a pork belly dish on its own.

Welwitschia Country Market
Across the dam wall, there are tons of flea markets. Most of them selling the same things but I enjoyed browsing through the arts and crafts markets, African curio shops and nurseries. Across the road and further along are other markets with similar stalls. There are also lots of restaurants and cafes in each of these outdoor markets if you need to take a break from the shopping. I picked up two wood and wicker bedside tables for my new bedroom at R200 each.

Jasmyn Farmstall
One of the first things you notice while driving towards Harties is The Windmill. Outside The Windmill is a flea market to browse through and then there’s Jasmyn Farmstall which has very misleading name. It’s a huge farmer’s grocery store similar to a Fruit ‘n Veg City but with none of the usual food brands. We decided to do the week’s grocery shopping there. Fresh fruits, vegetables, dairy products, meat, juices, jams and baked goods are for sale at lower prices than what I’m used to.

The Windmill
Our last meal at Hartees in the freezing cold was at The Windmill. Despite the dull weather, the gardens looked lush and the streams made me feel like I never wanted to be in the city again. I ordered a hot chocolate and my food arrived so quickly that my hot chocolate was still warm by the time I finished my meal. Now that is what I call service! Try the chicken pancake. Dare I say it? It was better than Harry’s Pancakes.

I’m usually not ready to come back home from a weekend getaway but I left feeling relaxed and happy that I experienced most of what Harties had to offer. Only 45 minutes from Joburg, I’d definitely suggest it if you’re in need of some rest and relaxation away from the city.

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