The beauty was spectacular. I was surrounded by 2400 million year old mountains. Thirty metres below me, a pebbled stream ran through the gorge, flanked by mini-waterfalls. The air was fresh and the sun was shining through the trees. Forest birds and animals peered at us inquisitively. I was engulfed by an exhilarating feeling of freedom. Then I was pushed off the cliff. I felt as free as a bird. I flew through the air as I slid along the zipline at high speed to the opposite cliff where an experienced guide was waiting to unclip me.
We were participating in an adrenalin-pumping Tarzan and Jane style eco-adventure - the Magaliesberg Canopy Tours - a journey through the ecology and geology of the second oldest mountain range in the world. The popular tree-top tour is part of the Sparkling Waters Hotel and Spa offering. It is safe for kids and the elderly and promises great fun. Our excellent guide, JT, kept us in stitches throughout the tour, helping to keep any possible anxieties at bay, while simultaneously educating us on the flora and fauna of the region. My kids loved it and we got the “Been There, Done There” certificates and the DVD at the end. The award-winning spa was just what we needed after that.
The Sparkling Health Spa was a finalist for the Best Luxury Resort Spa in South Africa in 2013 and 2014, in the World Luxury Hotel Awards, an annual international contest that attracts thousands of entries. When I heard this, I knew that I had to experience it. It didn't disappoint. Midway through my blissful hot stone massage treatment, I was lulled into an idyllic semi-comatose state, something that doesn't happen to me often.
The spa is built around a heated indoor pool as its centrepiece and boasts a tropical Jacuzzi garden, steam bath, hydrotherapy rooms, and sun bed amongst the other spa offerings. Individual, couple and even family treatment sessions can be taken while overlooking the Magaliesberg Mountains. One can hear the soothing sound of the river while enjoying the spa treatments, adding to the serene country atmosphere. Unique to this spa are the treatments for 6-12 year olds at the very appropriately named “Babes and Dudes” salon, where my children thoroughly enjoyed back massages from professional therapists who treated them like adults, much to their delight.
Sparkling Waters Hotel and Spa is situated next to the Krom River in the heart of the Magaliesberg Mountains, approximately one-and-a-half hours away from Johannesburg on a scenic route taking you past the beautiful Hartebeespoort Dam. The rooms are situated in sub-tropical gardens and are spacious and comfortable.
We stayed in the executive family room which has a twin bedroom for the children adjoining the main bedroom. Not that they spent much time there as there was so much to keep them busy. Miniature golf, a huge swimming pool, a games room, cricket pitch, trampoline, jungle gym, tennis courts were just some of the activities on offer.
The buffets are huge and cater for various dietary requirements. Children have their dinner in a separate dining room adjoining the main one, with child-friendly food and movies to entertain them. Dinner can also be enjoyed outside around a bonfire on cool nights. The Sunday lunch at the resort is a popular weekly event attracting visitors from all around. The resort owners mingle with the guests during meals ensuring that everyone is comfortable.
Great specials are available throughout the year for leisure stays and conferences. Breakfast and dinner are included in the rates to avoid any nasty surprises later making the resort great value for money. The mountain resort has won the Conference Venue of the Year award three times and has been a finalist in the AA Accommodation Awards every year since 1997. It is a great place to relax, revive and revitalise yourself, as you get re-acquainted with nature.
Things you must do in South Africa