This story was first published on 18 December 2017 and was updated on 3 December 2018.
Are you stuck in Gauteng while all your friends are already enjoying the South Coast? Fear not, for there is still chance to escape the city and head to the river.
The Vaal River offers a quick escape from Johannesburg, as it’s situated a mere 1 hour away. It has golfing, walking, cycling and even a few activities tailored for adrenaline junkies. We spoke to Rozanne Hamilton, Customer Relationship Executive at Riviera on Vaal, on her top things to do in the area over the festive season.
For the family
If families do want to explore the area, a stop-over at Animal World at Emerald Casino is a popular choice; kids can encounter hippos, flamingos, iguanas, antelope, monkeys, lions, snakes and more. Entrance is R35 for children under 12, R55 for adults and R20 for pensioners.
After doing some serious animal spotting, the kids should be ravenous. Matthews Restaurant at Riviera on Vaal has a kids menu that’ll satisfy their appetites.
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Have to visit
No hesitating here: Con Gusto Cucina Italiana, a new addition to the Vaal experience. This fantastic Italian restaurant is set on the banks of the Vaal River, so the scenery is beautiful and the food is amazing.
A river cruise, for sure. I prefer an early morning cruise when Mother Nature is waking up or, of course, you cannot beat a sundowner cruise, with something cool to drink and great beats setting the mood. Aqua Lounge has a variety of cruise options available including a breakfast, lunch and dinner service while floating down the Vaal.
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Got to try
There’s no shortage of things to do on the river. The Vaal River offers all types of water sports, so if you’re looking for more than a lazy cruise with a cocktail in hand, you’ll be pleased to know that you’ve got plenty of options. The river is abuzz with holiday-makers over the season all who are either trying their hand at a new water sport or showing off in style.
Water sports on offer include:
- Lift jet board
- Lift jet pack
- Tube rides
- Speedboat rides
- Wake boarding
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If you’re hooked on the outdoors or trail running, cycling or hiking, get lost in Suikerbosrand Nature Reserve in Heidelberg, truly one of the most beautiful nature reserves in Gauteng, decorated with an abundance of birds, some lovely waterholes and a good overdose of fresh air. The reserve has a network of 66km of hiking trails which include a short 4km trail for a lovely easy hike (the Cheetah Trail) and a 17km day visitor trail. There is also a 60km motor vehicle tourist route, which is also suitable for cyclists.
So there you have it, lots to do down at the river this December. So, pack your overnight bag, your golf clubs and your bikini, there’s plenty of fun to be had.
Words Gerhard Horn