We recently went on a weekend trip to Hartbeespoort Dam in the North-West Province of South Africa. We flew from East London to O.R.Tambo International Airport where we hired a car. The journey from the airport to our accommodation at Magalies Park on the R560 took us approximately 1 hour and 20 minutes. This close proximity to Johannesburg has made Hartbeespoort Dam a popular short break holiday destination for many residents of Gauteng Province.
Hartbeespoort Dam is located right next to the Magaliesberg Mountains and is convenient for a number of attractions such as the Maropeng Visitor Centre at the Cradle of Humankind, the Sterkfontein Caves, Lesedi Cultural Village, De Wildt Cheetah Centre and the Wonder Caves.
Over the years the edge of Hartbeespoort Dam has been developed significantly with a number of residential estates providing second homes and retirement homes to many Gautengers. Unfortunately this development had meant that actually getting close to the actual Dam itself can prove quite challenging. We drove around for a number of hours one day and only succeeded in getting close to the dam on a few occasions. At one end of the dam the R104 crosses a bridge over the water and there are a few small spots either side of the dam where you can park your car to get a few photos. The next best place we found was in Hartbeespoort itself where we discovered that if you pay to enter the Snake Park in the centre of town you can get right down to the water’s edge. They also offer boat cruises from here. We think that it is only right at this stage that we point out that the water at the dam is suffering from an algae epidemic and has turned a not-so pleasant colour of green. Clearly action needs to be taken to reverse this and to bring the dam back to its natural beauty. The waters are still popular with many sailing boats, jet-skis, motor boats and other vessels to be seen all over.
Our drive around the dam took us through places such as Schoemansville, Ifafi and Meerhof. It’s worth turning off the main road to explore the residential roads and have a nose at the thatched houses that are plentiful here. Dotted all around the Hartbeespoort Dam there are plenty of Hotels, Guest Houses and Bed and Breakfast establishments offering a great choice of places to stay.
On one side of the dam you will discover the village of Kosmos located just off the R512. To get into Kosmos you need to pass through a security gate but if you just tell them you are visiting one of the art galleries you will be let through. There are a few art galleries in Kosmos and if you follow the narrow streets you will find them easily. One of these galleries has an excellent elevated position with superb views overlooking the dam – well worth a stop.
Other spots of interest around the dam include the Welwitschia Country Market located on the R104 and the Chameleon Village Market just over the road. Both places have a number of arts and crafts stalls plus places to get refreshments.
We visited Hartbeespoort Dam at the beginning of May 2012 and the weather was hot during the day and cooler in the evenings.