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Spending the day in Hartbeespoort, South Africa

August 20, 2022 4 Comments

Johannesburg is a hub of activity for most visitors coming to South Africa; it carries the title of being “the biggest and busiest airport in Africa ”, Similarly, Johannesburg is the financial capital of South Africa offering the most opportunities for employment. But besides an airport and jobs, what can you actually DO for fun in Johannesburg? My answer would be to leave the province! No, really I am serious.

Just an hour away from Johannesburg and Pretoria (one of South Africa’s capital cities), lies the quaint town of Hartbeespoort in the North West Province. Its close proximity to the city makes it popular with locals and is an ideal day trip for wanting to escape the city but don’t have oodles of time to spend driving. 

Fun fact: Hartbeespoort means “gorge of the hartebeest”. In Afrikaans, a hartebeest is a species of antelope.

North West Province has many things worth visiting but these are my top picks. In my opinion, the Haarties Cableway and visiting the dam are not worth doing. The dam was full of trash when I passed by and the cableway is expensive with disappointing views. However, here are Panda’s Picks for spending the day in Hartbeespoort:

Hennops Hiking Trail 

My sister and I hiked this trail in 2021 and we enjoyed it. I recommend starting early to give yourself a full day in Hartbeespoort. The hiking trails range in length from 1,5 km to 10 km. We chose the 5km hike (Zebra Trail), it made for a great morning outdoors. I recommend taking a bottle of water with you and don’t miss the opportunity to take the rickety cable car. 

Cost: R100 for adults (regardless of which trail you do) and R50 for children.

Their official website is linked here.

French Toast Koffie Kaffie

Most people stop here mainly to snap a photo of the miniature version of the “Eiffel Tower” hidden at the end of a lake which are covered with “lover’s locks”. You can eat breakfast here but in my experience (I have been twice), the food is not amazing and the menu is not inclusive. I would probably eat breakfast at VovoTelo and then head to French Toast Koffie Kaffe for photos afterwards. This place does get busy so exercise patience.

Cost: R20 but its free to visit if you order food/drinks.

Their official website is linked here.

Upside Down House

With its floor in the air and roof on the ground, this wacky attraction is sure to amuse and delight. Designed to create a gravity-defying experience, the furniture and kitchen appliances in the building also remarkably hang from its ceiling. This is a quick attraction taking no more than an hour (if you went really slowly) where you embark on a self guided tour of the upside down house and snap zany photos. My tip is to flip the photos so it looks like you’re dangling from the ceiling!

Cost: R100 for adults and R60 for children.

Their official website is linked here.

Elephant Sanctuary

If I had to pick only one thing to do in Hartbeespoort, it would be this. Offering only 3 sessions a day (8am, 10am and 2pm), plan the rest of your day around this activity. We did the 8am session and were the only people there. 

The elephant sanctuary rescues elephants that have been deemed too aggressive and gives them a home while training and nurturing them to correct their behaviour. There are 4 elephants on the property, each with distinct personalities. The handlers do not punish the elephants; if the elephant doesn’t feel like interacting with you, they won’t force it so be prepared for that. Overall, it was not a scary experience and we all loved our times with the elephants. The experience took around 1.5 hours. 

Cost: R895 for adults and R395 for kids.

Their official website is linked here.


Pretville was built as a retro movie set for Afrikaans movies. It has evolved into a colourful village for people to admire the vintage items and take photos. They have a cafe on site serving milkshakes (themed like an American-style diner) and they have a theatre showing movies (Afrikaans but with English subtitles). It should take you around an hour to wander around.  Note that they are only open on school holidays and weekends.

Cost: R100 for adults and R50 for kids.

Their official website is linked here.


If you still have time and are not exhausted, there are many water activities to enjoy at Hartbeespoort Dam; from tubing, water-skiing, sailing, swimming, etc. Hartbeesporrt can also be a great weekend getaway. We stayed at Nehema Manor which I strongly recommend as their treehouses are idyllic. Overall Hartbeespoort is the ideal day trip or quick getaway for anyone wanting to escape the city life in Gauteng. Don’t miss spending the day in Hartbeespoort, South Africa!

Here are some alternative blog posts outlining other places to eat and things to do when spending the day in Hartbeespoort, South Africa:

Scribs and Nibs

Travel with Mariska

If you liked this post, you may also be interested in:

Visiting Oribi Gorge in South Africa

3 Reasons to visit St. Lucia in South Africa

Taking a Day Trip to Lesotho from South Africa

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Have you considered spending the day in Hartbeespoort, South Africa? Or have I just put it on your list? Let me know in the comments below!


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  • Pree August 21, 2022 at 11:52 am

    I’ll have to bookmark this post! I’ve always been intrigued by South Africa, and these spots seems like fun places to visit!

    As someone who has never been to the African continent, would you suggest making a trip to Johannesburg first and then planning day trips like this one?

    • expatpanda September 11, 2022 at 12:25 pm

      For a first time visit, I suggest visiting Cape Town and Johannesburg and doing self drive road trips from either large city!

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