Just an hour’s drive south of Johannesburg is an adventure playground for Gautengers looking for an action-packed day trip, a romantic weekend away or just a day in the country.
In the Sedibeng District, the Vaal Dam and its source, the Vaal River, provide endless entertainment for sportsmen and women, and have long been used for sailing, power boating, waterskiing, canoeing, rafting, fishing and dinner cruising.
A group of local artists and crafters put their heads together 16 years ago and came up with the Vaal Meander, a motoring route that showcases local offerings. It gives visitors a chance to participate in activities in the area from overnighting in country inns to visiting craft factories.
There are nature walks, game drives, dinner dances on riverboats, roulette nights, craft markets, and fun theatre events for children and adults, all organised by various establishments in the district.
Southern Sun’s Riverside Lifestyle Resort is only 40 minutes from Johannesburg and was recently refurbished. The resort on the Vaal River, just a few minutes from Vanderbijlpark, is a favourite for families taking a few days’ break. It’s a good base from which to explore the region.
Nearby, the Emerald Resort & Casino, humorously called “Vegas on Vaal”, is where the high rollers hang out. The resort also offers game drives, rock climbing, adventure golf and 10-pin bowling.
Along the R59, a stream of quaint emporiums offer an array of crafts and gifts, as well as a variety of craft workshops. Sweet temptations handmade by experts using the best ingredients are also available.
While some people will want the freedom to drive the route independently and stop off at different places in their own time, others will prefer a structure to the activities. With this in mind, Vaal Meander organisers have put together various tour packages.
Sharpeville Precinct Tours are arranged on a half-day or full-day basis with optional meals. On the tours guests visit the site where peace negotiations took place and learn about the tragedy of the Sharpeville Massacre, and the subsequent events that played such a pivotal role in South Africa’s history.
Other tours include the Shebeen Nightlife Tour to get a taste of life in the townships, rafting and tubing packages, quad bike rides, wellness packages and spa treatments, and group adventure tours.
Fishing safaris on the Vaal River or Vaal Dam can be arranged, and the special Dads and Lads Weekend is great bonding time for fathers and sons, and includes weekend accommodation, meals and three exciting activities.
Nearby Vredefort Dome is the site of a meteorite crater and was given UNESCO World Heritage Site status in 2005. There are walking trails on the area’s farms for visitors to experience the eerie wonder of this exceptional site.
For all this and more information contact Vaal Meander tourism, call +27 (0)16 424 1121. The Vaal Meander, an up-to-date magazine, can be mailed anywhere in South Africa for R15 (to cover postage). It also contains details and contact numbers.