Vredefort dome:?Golden days in the crater

2014-10-26 15:00

On the trail of a good hike? Denise Slabbert walks you through the best places to stay, dine and have access to the Vredefort Dome

How to get there

From Johannesburg, take the N1 to the R723 in the Free State and look out for Exit 472. The Vredefort Dome is about 135km from Joburg and the drive will take you about 90 minutes to two hours. Driving is the best way to get there.

The Vredefort Dome is close to the town of Venterskroon, something of a ghost town these days and a hangover from the Gold Rush days of the late 1890s.

The main leisure spot in this part of the world and a great place from which to explore the area is the town of Parys, also known as the Gateway to the Dome. There are many bed-and-breakfasts and guesthouses, as well as a variety of restaurants in town – whether you want “moerkoffie en koek” or a little cabaret served up with your coq au vin. There are also fun antique shops and décor stores in town where you can browse for hours.

Accommodation

Thabela Thabeng Mountain Retreat

Situated on Buffelskloof Farm, there are seven self-catering mountain and river chalets in the Vredefort World Heritage Site at Thabela Thabeng Mountain Retreat. There are many interesting things to do like visiting the Khoi cave to see the rock engravings, taking a trip to the ancient kraals and a tour into the old mine tunnels and the mine shaft. Follow this with lunch at the Old Imperial Inn in Venterskroon. There’s hiking, archery, mountain biking and visits to the best viewing sites from where to see the meteorite impact site.

Rooms are from R970 per night (two-sleeper) to R1?600 per night (six-sleeper)

Tel: 056?818?1116

Visit: www.thabelathabeng.co.za

Knopberg Self-Catering Lodge

Situated in the Vredefort Dome, Knopberg Self-Catering Lodge consists of three well-equipped farmhouses with great views of the surrounding bergland and the Vaal River. Each unit has its own braai area. You can book a variety of activities with tour operators in the area and take the Tree Trail (a 2km walk) to see indigenous trees.

Costs: two-sleeper (from R750 per night); four-sleeper (from R1?380 per night) and eight-sleeper (from R1?240 per night). It’s a good idea to book your activities before your arrival

Tel: 079?894?9565

Visit: www.knopberg.com

Kopjeskraal Country Lodge

Situated outside Parys, this lodge offers farm-stay accommodation in the main house and four outside rooms. There is also a bush lapa and catering for functions can be organised on request.

Tel: 083?406?0841

Visit: www.kopjeskraal.co.za

Deelfontein

Situated 20km outside Parys, there are two farmhouses (sleeping 11 and 16 people, respectively). There is also a rondavel and a rustic bush camp, so Deelfontein can accommodate 45 people at any one time. Mountain biking on single trails is popular while hiking trails and bird-watching are also on offer in the area.

Costs: R230 per person per night in the farmhouse

R150 per person per night in the bush camp

Tel: 083?280?9784

Email: Gerhard@deelfontein.co.za

Visit: www.deelfontein.co.za

In Parys

Green Gables Country Estate is situated in beautiful gardens and is just an hour outside Joburg. Here you have the option of B&B or self-catering establishments.

Visit: www.greengablescountryestate.co.za or Tel: 056?811?3429

The www.parys.info website has listings of options for accommodation, or you can call 056?811?4000. You can also visit www.parys.co.za for accommodation adventure options and restaurant listings.

Where to eat

De Vette Mossel @ Parys

A restaurant and wedding/function venue on a smallholding overlooking the Dome mountain range.

There’s great seafood on the menu from West Coast rock lobster to calamari steak and even a meat potjie for non-pescatarians. Finish with coffee and koeksisters. The ocean theme dominates and the local farm dam serves as the sea. Open in the week for functions only, but open to the public on weekends. Book beforehand.

Tel: 060?486?7686

Email: devettemossel@parys.co.za

Visit: www.devettemosselparys.co.za

Ruby’s Restaurant

Visit this eatery in Bree Street for fine French dining and live shows on weekends. Dinners are legendary, but you should book about a month in advance to get in.

Tel: 056?811?5080

Visit: www.rubysparys.co.za

Vaal de Grace Restaurant

Head out of town to the Vaal de Grace Restaurant at the Vaal de Grace Golf Estate. It is known for its Sunday buffets: R120 per adult; children R60.

Tel: 056?811?2013

Visit: www.vaaldegrace.co.za

Feast Restaurant on Bree Street

Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. It is also a great place for coffee and has a fine deli section. This restaurant is fully licensed and you don’t need to book.

Tel: 056?811?2397

O’s Restaurant

Billed as the perfect space to enjoy smart food, good drinks and an ambience on the banks of the Vaal, it’s something of an institution. Known for good ribs and great pasta. There is also Die Plek cocktail bar, but there are rules – No under-23s and gentlemen must wear shoes

Open Wednesdays to Saturdays.

Tel: 056?811?3683

Visit: www.osrestaurant.co.za

There are more than 18 restaurants in Parys, so you definitely won’t go hungry.

ACTIVITIES IN THE AREA

Hiking Trails with Dome Adventures

Dome Adventures offers the two-day Rooihaas Hiking Trail that begins in Venterskroon. The hike covers 21km and costs R280 per person per day (group must be a minimum of four people). Day trips are also on offer. Geological tours, abseiling, canoe trips and rock climbing are also on offer from Dome Adventures.

Tel: 081?407?5861

Visit: www.domeadventures.co.za

Berakah Adventures offers 4x4 trails, quad biking and hiking. There is also camping accommodation on offer.

Tel: 056?818?1313

Visit: www.berakah.co.za

For whitewater rafting on the Vaal River contact Dimalachite White River Rafting. Also accommodation at Dimalachite River Lodge. Families are welcome.

Tel: 056?818?1860/1/2

Visit: www.parysrafting.co.za

For golfing with a difference, book a game at the Vaal de Grace Golf Estate. It is situated on an island and is the only place in the country where four tees are located in the Free State and the other 12 tees are in North West.

Tel: 056?811?2013

Visit: www.vaaldegrace.co.za

Look out for Koepel Mega Zip Adventures’ opening, the first double dual zip line in South Africa.

Tel: 056?818?1151

Email: admin@koepelmagzip.com

For those who prefer ultrasoft adventures like antique shopping in Parys, be sure to pop into Pines Antiques, EnStyle and Varietè Arts, among others.

If you want to do some art shopping, there are many artists in the area. Look out for the galleries of Annette Dannhauser, Mariska van Deventer and Melinda van Schalkwyk (all details on www.parys.info).

USEFUL INFO

.?There are no entrance fees to the Vredefort Dome

.?The Dome Meander was started by Linda Chivell as a one-stop information portal on the Vredefort Dome and surrounds. Contact her on info@domemeander.co.za or visit the website on www.domemeander.co.za

.?You can also contact 018?293?2818 for more information on the area or email helpdesk@vredefortdome.org. Visit the Vredefort Dome website on www.vredefortdome.org

.?Parys Tourism Information and Bookings

Tel: 056?811?2000 or you can email support@parysinfo.co.za

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