13 Fun things to do in Hartbeespoort and surrounds

Looking for the best things to do in Hartbeespoort? You've come to the right place.

In this age of social media, the Instagrammability of a place is a key factor in deciding on a getaway destination for many people. The Hartbeespoort area boasts Instagram opportunities galore, and it’s proximity to Johannesburg and Pretoria make it an ideal weekend destination.

Meaning “Gateway of the Hartebeest” (a type of antelope), Hartbeespoort is a collection of small resort towns situated around the Hartbeespoort Dam in the North-West province, close to the Gauteng border. Also known as Harties, it was established in the 1920s when construction of the dam began. Schoemansville is the oldest neighbourhood in the area, and was named after Hendrik Schoeman, a General in the Anglo-Boer War, who owned the farm that the dam was built on.

Dominated by the Hartbeespoort Dam, the region is rich in historical, ecological, geological, and paleontological significance, as well as tourist attractions.

13 best things to do in Hartbeespoort

1. Aerial Cableway Hartbeespoort

Harties Cableway cable car over Hartbeespoort

Harties Cableway

This is the top rated attraction in the area, according to Tripadvisor and I personally agree, having experienced it. The longest mono cableway in South Africa, it will take you to the top of the ancient Magaliesberg mountains, a World Biosphere Reserve, from where you can enjoy spectacular views of the Hartbeespoort Dam, Magaliesberg and the surrounding areas - en route and at the top.

A walk along the Dassie Loop paved walkway will take you around the mountain top where information boards indicate points of interest. You can also enjoy light meals and refreshments with a view on the mountain. The more adventurous can hike up or down the mountain. The Hartbeespoort Aerial Cableway is one of the best things to do in Harties - and one of the most beautiful cable car experiences in South Africa.

2.Hartbeespoort Dam

Hartbeespoort dam wall and arch

Hartbeespoort Dam

The Hartbeespoort Dam was completed in 1925, and spans over 20 km. Fed by the Crocodile and Magalies Rivers and surrounded by the Magaliesberg mountains, it serves as a source of irrigation for the surrounding farms. The Hartbeespoort Dam is the only dam in South Africa with a Roman Triumphal Arch Style wall, which is based on the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. You can park your car near the dam wall crossing and admire the picturesque views. It's one of the best free things to do in Harties. Just remember though, that there is only parking on one side of the wall.

The Hartbeespoort Dam is also a popular water resort area where you can go on boat cruises, jet-skiing, and sailing.

Read more about the history of Hartbeespoort Dam.

3. French Toast Coffee Cafe

Replica of Eiffel Tower at French Toast Coffee Cafe

French Toast Coffee Cafe

Visiting the French Toast complex might be the closest you’ll get to France in South Africa, and you don't need a passport for this trip. The French Toast Coffee Cafe was built as part of the set for the movie French Toast in 2015. It is known as Café Alexandre in the movie. Here, you will find a 12.5-metre Eiffel Tower, a lock bridge where you can seal your love and other touches of Paris. The café operates as a restaurant with a Parisian influenced patisserie  - and yes, they do serve French Toast. Be warned, it’s very busy on weekends.

4. Van Gaalen Cheese Farm

Farm building at Van Gaalen Cheese Farm

Van Gaalen Cheese Farm

Van Gaalen is primarily a family-run cheese farm established in 1994. Tours are offered on Wednesdays and Saturdays, when you can see how the cheese is made, and indulge in cheese-tasting. However, the farm also has several hiking and mountain-biking trails extending over 50 properties, and over 100 km. The trails take you along the river, over swing bridges, through bamboo walkways and dense woodlands. Much of it is shaded, making it great for hot days.

5. Chameleon Village

Things to do in Hartbeespoort

Chameleon Village

Chameleon Village is a sprawling shopping and entertainment area. It has a huge African craft market, several restaurants, kids’ play areas, art galleries, putt-putt and go-karting.

6. Welwitschia Country Market

Things to do in Hartbeespoort

Welwitschia Country Market

Welwitschia Country Market is an eco-village country market opposite Chameleon Village. It features 40 shops, 3 restaurants and a kids playground. Stalls offers a wide range of goods including clothing, African arts and crafts, books, novelties and curios, leather ware and jewellery. There is live entertainment on weekends.

7. Animal sanctuaries

Cheetah lying down and looking at camera


There are many animal sanctuaries in the area, some more dubious than others. Some of the more reputable ones are Ann van Dyk De Wildt Cheetah and Wildlife Centre, and Rhino and Lion Nature Reserve. Do ensure that you avoid unethical sanctuaries and behaviour such as lion petting.

8. Hot Air Ballooning

3 Hot air balloons on the ground

Hot air ballooning

There are few more magical experiences than drifting in a hot air balloon as the sun appears over the horizon. The Hartbeespoort Dam and Magaliesberg Mountains provide a spectacular backdrop for hot air balloon flights. As you drift lazily with the wind, enjoying the panoramic views, the early morning serenity and tranquillity is punctuated only by the occasional chirping of birds and the frequent burst of flames into the hot air balloon. We experienced our hot air balloon ride with Bill Harrops.

9. Change your perspective at the Upside Down House

Upside-down House - Things to do in Hartbeespoort

Upside-down House

As the name suggests, the Upside Down House is a house built upside down. The contents of the house including the furniture, which would normally be on the floor, are now over your head, providing great photo opportunities.

10. Cradle of Humankind

Grass-covered Tumulus Building at Maropeng

Tumulus Building at Maropeng

30 minutes away from Hartbeespoort Dam, the Cradle of Humankind is one of South Africa’s 10 UNESCO World Heritage Sites . Altogether, it contains 15 major fossil sites, of which the Sterkfontein Caves is the most famous. The caves are estimated to be 20 million years old.

11. Bothongo Wondercave

The interior of the Bothongo Wondercave

Bothongo Wondercave (cc Bothongo Rhino and Lion Nature Reserve)

The Bothongo Wondercave, located in the Bothongo Rhino & Lion Nature Reserve, was discovered in 1898 by Italian miners. Part of the Cradle of Humankind, it boasts South Africa's 3rd largest chamber, after the Cango Caves in the Garden Route and the Sudwala Caves in Mpumalanga. The entrance includes an 87-step, 45-degree staircase, followed by an 18-meter drop via an elevator. The Wondercave offers guided tours, showcasing its geological history dating back 5-10 million years, and its natural wonders which include formations up to 15 meters, cave pearls, rim stone pools, stalactites, and stalagmites. However, confirm that it is open before you go as the cave may be closed due to rain or other reasons.

12. Hennops Hiking Trails

Wooden Suspension bridge at Hennops Hiking Trail

Hennops Hiking Trail Suspension bridge

Also 30 minutes away from Hartbeespoort Dam, Hennops Hiking Trails are some of the most popular hiking trails in Gauteng. This is an expansive nature reserve with hiking, mountain biking and off-roading trails, as well as a historical background. I wrote about it in detail here.

13. Magaliesberg Canopy Tour

Child ziplining on Canopy Tour in Magaliesberg

Canopy Tour in Magaliesberg

Just over 30 minutes away from Hartbeespoort Dam, you can go ziplining with Magaliesberg Canopy Tours. This adrenalin-pumping Tarzan and Jane style eco-adventure will take you through the ecology and geology of the second oldest mountain range in the world.

These are just some of the things to do in Hartbeespoort . You can also do horse riding, rock climbing, quad-biking, caving, abseiling, kloofing, fishing, golf, bird watching, river rafting, strawberry-picking and much more. Although it is possible to go there on a day trip, there is so much to do in the area that staying there for a weekend makes more sense, as you can then explore the local attractions in Harties at a more leisurely pace.

Where to stay

Where to stay in Hartbeespoort

Three Oaks and an Aloe Boutique Hotel

Mount Amanzi

Where to stay in Magaliesberg

Mount Grace

De Hoek Country Hotel

Valley Lodge

Where to stay in Brits

Dikhololo Resort

Find more accommodation in Hartbeespoort.

What are your favourite things to do in Harties ?

Things to do in Hartbeespoort

37 comments on “13 Fun things to do in Hartbeespoort and surrounds”

    1. Hi. If you just want to see the mini Eiffel Tower you don't have to pay. If you want to sit at the cafe, you'll have to buy something.

  1. Good day

    May I find out which activities do you offer. I am interested in hot air balloon, zip lining and quad biking if not may I please have a list of your activities and the price list.

  2. Good day, I'd like to bring my mother to Harties for her 77th birthday.please recommend accom , eat out and relaxing activities

  3. Thank you, I have been looking for information about this topic for a while and yours is the greatest I've came upon so far.

  4. Hello. A friend of mine is turning 30yrs old on the 25 June and would like to explore Haarties for 2 nights. Accommodation BnB and few activities, boat cruise, quad bikes, hiking and spa
    2pax.do you have a package for this and how mach

  5. OMW Hartbeespoort Dam is absolutely amazing. Accommodation is cheap and always excellent. The restaurants are excellent and the sightsing is mind blowing
    1 will definitely visit Hartbespoort every and any time. It's the place to relax and enjoy great sightseeing and excellent food. I love Hartbeespoort Dam and will go there whenever time and money allows

    1. Hartbeespoort Dam is definitely a great weekend getaway from Joburg. Where's your favourite place to stay there?

  6. Just want to know the price for accommodation and food somethings like that and how I can pay to be there on the 15 April

  7. Hi

    I am Mpumi, intending to visit on the 21 Dec to 23rd Dec 2021. We are 5 adults. Need accommodation and touring. How much could be the total cost.

    Our budget is at 15g

  8. Glad to find a few things that I haven't done in and around Hartbeespoort! The view from the cableway is really lovely and I have never heard of the upside down house. I will have to explore!

  9. Currently saving all the Africa posts as I sooooo badly want to visit this huge continent again. 🙂 Thanks for the ideas 🙂

  10. Oh oh oh they have a cheese farm! This makes me so excited to go 😃. Ever since visiting Africa (East Africa) for the first time last year, I've been itching to go back to the continent and explore the south. Of course, plans got cancelled this year, but I'm still gonna bookmark this page. 😊

    1. Hi. If staying at Mount Amanzi the steers, fish aways and La montagnia pizza in centre by spar just up the road is all halaal. It's Muslim owned

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