As is the case during most holidays, shopping, day trips and sightseeing are the order of the day. The recent holiday season proved no different. In search of something different to do around Johannesburg, my “significant other” and I made our way out to Hartbeespoort to try out the newly-revamped cableway. I had heard about the cableway from friends who had enjoyed their experience and was keen to see what all the fuss was about. I was pleasantly surprised.
We arrived at the cableway’s base station located at the foot of the Magaliesberg Mountains. Straight off the bat I was struck by the appealing layout, well-tended indigenous gardens and Afro/European style buildings which encompass an easily accessible ticket office and embarkation ramp, a Bugatti restaurant, a conference centre, a curio store and toilets.
Tickets bought, we waited in line to catch one of the new, emerald-green cable cars that form an integral part of the revamped cableway. According to the history of the area, the original cableway was constructed in 1973. Unfortunately, over the years, it fell into disrepair and was eventually closed in 2005. In 2010 a private entity, Zargadox, purchased the old cableway with a view to breathing new life into the area. Today, the cableway boasts state-of-the-art Swiss cable cars and systems capable of transporting 500 people per hour.
The ride up the mountain proved great fun albeit slightly nerve-wracking towards the end as the incline increased dramatically. Any nerves were quickly assuaged though as the cable car slid smoothly into a station which would not have been out of place in Switzerland. Upon disembarking, we were met by a breathtaking view overlooking the Hartbeespoort Dam, the surrounding Magaliesberg and various mushrooming suburbs. Suffice to say it was well worth the journey up.
The stunning view can be enjoyed from a variety of vantage points located around a broad, wooden viewing deck and meandering walkway dubbed the Dassie Loop which hugs a hilly outcrop. Placards detailing the history and attractions of the area have been thoughtfully placed along the loop at various junctures, which makes for interesting reading as you walk. Towards the end of the loop, a play area has been established for children. In this area, families can arrange to have picnics or purchase pizzas from a small pizzeria. Other amenities include a self-service restaurant, a cocktail bar, toilets and Shop at the Top which feature along the bottom deck of the station. A purpose-built paragliding ramp has also been established for paragliding fans.
It’s advisable to set aside at least a few hours to really enjoy what the cableway has to offer. There’s plenty to keep everyone busy and it can act as a hub from which other activities can be arranged. Clearly a lot of thought, effort and money have been invested into the cableway. It has been well conceptualised and features a number of appealing design elements which combine to make it a thoroughly enjoyable, world-class experience away from the city for local families, nature lovers and foreign visitors alike.