Accommodation near Hartbeespoort:
It was Friday evening. Negotiating the northern suburbs Jo'burg traffic had proved to be relatively uneventful. Before my husband and I had enlightened each other on our respective days we had reached at our destination, a much needed two night's stay at a Lodge. La'Wiida Lodge and conference centre is aptly named after its owners Francois and Gretha Wiid. Less than a 20 minutedrive from Fourways, Sandton, and only 30 minutes from Pretoria, nestled in the Hennops river valley sits this stunning venue.
The turnoff into La'Wiida Lodge led us through a secure double gated entrance, fully enclosed by a well maintained game fence lined periodically with security cameras. Shortly after we turned off the R511 it was as if we were transported into another dimension, one of tranquillity and order. Flawless thatched buildings welcomed us. The attention to detail is evident throughout. The sun was setting and we were drawn in by the inviting flames flickering in the fire baskets, set upon the wooden deck. Our attention was drawn to a nyala licking on a strategically placed salt lick the other side of the decking.
The wedding zone is reminiscent of an infinity pool, suspended at the edge of an incline, offering the wedding party an uninterrupted surveillance of the distant mountains. The swimming pool area is made up of a double pool, with a waterfall rockery linking one to the other. Wooden loungers and a thatched boma add substance to the entertainment area, waiting invitingly for those perfect African sunny days. However we had arrived in autumn and there was a distinct nip in the air, so instead we opted for something warmer. The homely thatched communal lounge, with bar area, housed a glowing fire with a rugby match playing on the TV. A variety of animal heads and a lion's skin, with its attached head, gazed down on the guests from the walls. Comfortable chairs and couches invited us to have a drink and share the match with the other guests before drifting through to take our seats for dinner.
Dinner was self service buffet style and included a wide range of dishes. On the first night I chose mouth-watering meatballs in a tomato based sauce and a delicious chicken casserole. My husband plumbed for the unusual pumpkin balls, beetroot with battered fish and chips. Dessert was a choice between individual cheesecake portions or chocolate mousse. On the second evening there was potato bake, pap and sauce, pork ribs, beef medallions and a delicious chicken lasagne. Dessert was sliced peaches, jelly or custard. The fare was flavoursome, the quantities were plentiful and the dining area pleasing.
Bedrooms are located in individual thatched rondavals. There is a luxury or standard room on offer, with the difference being a corner bath, fridge and TV as the extras available in the luxury room. Once again the attention to detail was evident in the modern interior design and colour scheme. Our room included a bunk bed and we could have comfortably accommodated our children. Moreover with the well considered security features I felt surprisingly at ease with the thought of booking them their own Rondaval. Our en-suite included a corner bath as well as a shower. If I have to find fault it would be the lack of arm chair and accompanying coffee table enabling me to settle down to read my book. However I am being picky as I found reclining on the bed equally soothing. A well placed desk and chair is available for those guests here on business, perhaps attending a conference at one of the two conference facilities accessible on site. The self service breakfast laid on an excellent cooked selection as well as a plentiful variety of continental options. Coffee was served and topped up on request. The service was slick. The staff were extremely friendly and nothing was too much trouble. I often witnessed management mingling with the guests checking to see if everyone was happy and answering any questions.
La'Wiida Lodge has a variety of game on their 100 hectare farm. We saw the above mentioned nyala, a herd of wildebeest, zebra and some blesbok, but missed out on catching sight of the giraffe. If you haven't got a 4 x 4 on hand, a game vehicle is on offer to escort you around the farm, at a prearranged time.
There is a designated picnic area with a thatched boma offering welcoming shade on a hot summer day. I could picture myself easily whiling away a sunny afternoon, reclining on a picnic blanket, with a group of friends sharing a glass, or two, of quality wine. Hartbeespoort is a fifteen minutes drive from La'Wiida Lodge.
We decided to venture to the recently renovated, and much publicised, Hartbeespoort Cable Car. It proved to be a weekend of quality workmanship. The cable car venue could hold its head up high in any European city. We were assisted into our own cable car and the door automatically closed, gently pulling us up the mountain, presenting us with uninterrupted views over the town and the dam. The top of the ridge is relatively narrow and a paved circular walkway guides the visitor to spectacular views on either side. In addition to the dam aspect the other side of the ridge offers views towards Sun City. Regularly spaced placards educated us on the history of the surrounding area. The decked zone that greeted us has an aesthetically pleasing bar with a seating area offering perfect views over the dam. There is a canteen offering a variety of food, a gift shop and a wooden play area for children. We settled down, outside the gift shop, enjoying our cappuccinos and watched the cable cars come and go.
Haarties, the locals endearing name for this popular area, could entertain any visitor of any age. There are a variety of activities on offer ... from sailing on the dam or a stroll with lions; a visit to a bush baby sanctuary or a demonstration at the snake park; exploring the numerous curios lining the roadside or visiting one of the many renowned art galleries. I would recommend a drive across the dam wall, and a round at Peacanwood golf course should keep any golf addict sated. Nothing, though, beats the serentity of a Hartbeespoort hot air balloon flight.
After a memorable few hours we headed back for our second night at the welcoming La'Wiida Lodge. Reluctantly we were unable to stay and enjoy the Sunday lunch buffet with live entertainment. Sunday entertainment is a regular event at La'Wiida Lodge and is worth marking it in your diary. Lunch is held on those Sunday's when the lodge has not been booked out for a wedding, couple's event, a ladies camp or a large conference. Management recommends phoning ahead to check availability and to pre-book a place. We departed La'Wiida Lodge rejuvenated, equipped with enough energy to contend with the rat race until another weekend away beckons.
Phone 074 587 4847
Written by Claire Madgwick on 27 May 2013.