7 beautiful budget weekend escapes from Johannesburg



These are the best, beautiful and budget friendly weekend escapes from Johannesburg – plan your escape from the city now.

Just four hours drive or less, these are the top budget bush breaks, breathtaking mountain views and country escapes all screened and reviewed.

Please note that all prices below are subject to change at each establishment’s discretion. Please check with them before travelling.

1. Lindani, Waterberg

With its own bushveld back garden, a gorgeous rock pool and an almost-guaranteed squadron of warthog mowing the lawns, Lindani is a self-catering, back-to-nature family escape that doesn’t disappoint. Spend time on the easy hiking trails, hire bicycles and cycle past wildebeest, zebra, eland and giraffe, or pack a picnic and stop at one of the five riverside sites to have a splash and cool down (one spot even has tubes for the lazy soakers).

Thoughtful details such as 50 kilograms of firewood, mammal, bird and reptile guides as well as a variety of games for rainy days are the cherry on top. There is a farm kitchen that has a variety of freshly prepared meals made to order (think stews and quiches), and if you’d rather braai, at least order the milk tart for pudding and farm bread for morning toast.

Cost: From R305 – R630 per person.

2. Kingfisher Lodge, Waterberg

Within earshot of the trickling Palala River, Kingfisher Lodge is a spacious bushveld home in the Waterberg just three hours’ drive from Joburg. It’s one of three accommodation units in the Palala River Lodges collection and consists of a three-bedroom farmhouse with a cosy fireplace that takes centre stage in the open-plan living area and two en-suite rondavels nearby. There are many scenic lookout points, 4X4 routes, waterbuck, giraffe and warthog to spot or just unwind on the lodge porch with a view of the Waterberg hills and harrumphing hippo for company.

Cost: From R410 per person.

3. Bontle Tented Camp and Campsite, Marakele National Park

These beautiful tented camps are more chic than any other SANParks establishment I’ve visited with crisp white linen, great kitchen facilities and evenly spread apart surrounded by Waterberg bushveld for privacy. There’s the chance that white rhino will come trotting past and I woke up to impala chomping fresh shoots in front of the chalet. It is quite common for game to wander through too. Marakele offers a good alternative to Kruger. You also don’t have to compromise on game, with elephant, rhino, leopard, lion, and a variety of the more elusive species such as tsessebe and sable occurring in the park.

Cost: From R1175 for two people in one tent.

4. De Kunst Huisje, Bela-Bela

De Kunst Huisje is an expertly curated guesthouse. Most visitors bypass the actual town of Bela-Bela in a hurry to holiday in the surrounding Waterberg bushveld, but one night spent here will prevent such an oversight. The old farmhouse is immediately striking from the roadside, with red door and window frames and enormous wooden carved chickens settled on the stoep. As its name suggests De Kunst Huisje (‘The Art House’) is filled with artworks, from quirky and antique to modern and classical. Big oil paintings adorn the black lounge walls and a vintage display case shows off collections of old tins and ceramics in the kitchen.

Cost: B&B from R500 per person.

5. Hamasha Bush Camp, Soutpansberg

Mountain bike past rhino, bond with friends over the braai and bird up in the clouds on the 2600-hectare reserve. Off-the-grid Hamasha Bushcamp is a self-catering eight-sleeper camp perched on the edge of the world in an amphitheatre of cliffs and mountains with breathtaking views of the Hamasha Gorge. The camp consists of two cottages sleeping four each, a central kitchen and lounge area with a fireplace. There’s no cell reception or electricity and the camp runs on gas, just like it did 20 years ago.

Price: From R640 per person (sleeps eight).

6. Mosetlha Bush Camp, Madikwe Game Reserve

Mosetlha is easily the most affordable option for South Africans in Madikwe and provides an authentic bushveld experience being unfenced except for a height-specific elephant wire that prevents them from pulling up trees around the lodge. The camp sleeps up to 20 in stilted log cabins that have canvas blinds, which can be rolled up to sleep with the starry skies. Food is homely matching the camps down-to-earth and unpretentious feel cooked over the fire and on gas.

Cost: SADC specials from R1895 per person sharing for all meals and two game drives.

7. Manyane Resort, Pilanesberg

It might be a fraction of Kruger’s size, but at Pilanesberg Game Reserve, near Rustenburg, you stand a chance to see not only the Big Five, but also rare species such as cheetah, wild dog and even brown hyena. While there’s a variety of accommodation options, Manyane Resort is ideal for families who love to camp. It’s large and has ample shade and power points, as well as a swimming pool, restaurant and small shop. The tented camp is also decent at R920 for two.

Price: From R230 per camp site per night (with power, up to five people).


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