The Vaal River has always been known as Gauteng’s quick escape, a playground for adventure junkies, golf enthusiasts, cocktail-sipping sun lizards, families with grannies, you name it; and this fact remains. What is more, the wonderful thing about the Vaal is that it’s a nine-iron away from Johannesburg, an easy drive out of the city.
Although a weekend getaway has plenty to offer, we spoke to Rozanne Hamilton, Customer Relationship Executive at BON Hotel Riviera on Vaal, and born and bred Vaallie, on her top things to do in the area over the festive season.
For the family
There’s no shortage of activities for the kids at our hotel; we plan a full program of activities for all ages over the festive season, from cup cake decorating, T-shirt painting and mini-masterchef to treasure hunts and obstacle courses for a bit of outdoor fun, so most of our kids don’t want to leave the hotel. 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. They definitely return to the hotel tired and hungry.
Have to visit
No hesitating here: Con Gusto restaurant at the Riviera Country Club is a fantastic Italian restaurant that's set on the banks of the Vaal River, the scenery is beautiful and the food is amazing!
A river cruise with Aqua Lounge for sure. Cruises depart hourly from our jetty and Darryl and his crew have truly fine-tuned the experience. 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 also hosts full moon cruises in the summer, which are another magnificent experience and very popular, so be sure to book directly with Aqua Lounge or at our reception desk.
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 season all who are either trying their hand at a new water sport or showing off in style.
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.