Incredible views (conditions weren’t ideal for images with the haze and it being a gloomy day).
The weather in Gauteng at the start of winter can be incredibly ‘iffy’. It alternates between champagne days of clarity, with blue skies, clear air and a delightful warmth, and sullen, misty, overcast days with a distinct chill to the air. As luck would have it (or not), the day I chose to visit the Harties Cableway was one of the latter. I needed to pop through as the venue was part of an event that I am busy with, but it had also long been on my bucket list of local ‘things to do’. I chose a quiet Thursday morning to avoid the madding crowds and got on the road in time to be in Harties as the cableway opened. Driving into the attraction, I felt a child-like flutter of excitement.
En-route up – stunning vegetation, sheer cliff faces and pylons…
As we exited the car, and took some time to don some warmer gear, a rumble in the building indicated that the structure had come to life. Moving into the facility, it was rewarding to notice that, particularly after what I can only imagine was an incredibly busy Freedom Day a mere 12 hours before, the entire facility was spotless. Nonetheless, there were still a couple of staff giving the floor a final onceover. The delicious aroma of coffee greeted us, and we resolved to grab a cuppa on the way out, after our adventure. We proceeded to the entry area, showed our passes that had been sent to our phones, and in two shakes of a lamb’s tail, we were on our way up the mountain…
The cable car station at the top of the mountain.
The Harties Cableway (more properly known as the Hartbeespoort Aerial Cableway) was originally built in 1973. It extends 1.2 km to the top of the Magaliesberg – making it the longest mono-cableway in Africa. As an aside, the Magaliesberg is recognised as a World Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO – we really do have so many incredible places in this country! Over the years, the cableway became one of the top attractions for visitors to the area, both local and overseas. It also became a popular paragliding and hang-gliding destination. By 2005, the entire facility was in a state of disrepair, and it was closed.
Five years later, Zargodox (Pty) Ltd made a decision to begin a private initiative to grow tourism in the Hartbeespoort area and purchased the cableway. They enlisted the collaboration of a Swiss firm, Rowema AG, and invested expertise, time and money into the facility, and the result is the superb facility which exists today.
Benches for a picnic with a view…
As part of the safety factor, the cableway underwent 500 hours of testing – complying with the Canadian Standards Association specifications. 14 six-seater hi-tech cable cars were purchased, as well as new galvanised cabling. Touch-screen technology makes access seamless, and auto cabin spacing and conveyor programming technology was installed. My first impression was that this was a world class facility. When researching after the fact, I came across a note where this sentiment was echoed. It is alleged that when Marthinus van Schalkwyk, the then Minister of Tourism, re-opened the cableway on 14th August 2010, he stated “Anyone who has been to Switzerland will tell you that the Harties Cableway is up there with the best!” My only point of reference is the Table Mountain Aerial Cableway, and in my humble opinion this facility compares most favourably. But, back to the day…
The view of the Magaliesberg Mountains on the way up is spectacular.
The first rumble took us by surprise! As the car runs under the pylons, there is a rumble as the wheels traverse a different surface. Feeling somewhat vulnerable, swinging high up in the sky, this gives you quite a start if you’re not expecting it 😉. We slowly climbed to the top of the mountain, thoroughly enjoying the views. Below us was a path, the purpose of which we debated. Sometime later we saw a car ascending with two young lads with their mountain bikes hooked to a special contraption on the outside. We were to see three more such cars with bikes. Being a ‘normal’ working day, we can only assume that this is a particularly popular route for cyclist to enjoy a technical downhill ride.
A cable car passing us – with the bike hooks on the back clearly visible.
On arriving at the summit, we exited the car and started along the gentle 1.2 km Dassie loop. This lovely walk on a paved path takes you around the summit, where information boards indicate points of interest. I can only imagine the views on a clear day… There are a number of restaurants to choose from, a Kidzone Play Area to keep the little people occupied and even a Spa, allowing you to properly relax whilst being pampered. There is also a “Boost ‘n Bounce” on the mountain top, a scaffold contraption with harnesses and what appears to be great big elastic bands – it all looks like great fun! We didn’t have the time to experience any of these facilities, but I would imagine them to all be quite delightful, as the entire facility gets almost exclusively ‘excellent’ and ‘very good’ reviews on Tripadvisor.
Sign boards, complete with interesting info, assist you to figure out what you’re gazing at…
You can choose to take a stroll down the mountain on the path we saw on the way up, perhaps indulging in some bird watching on the way. There is also the option to “fly with a qualified Tandem Flight Instructor and enjoy the beauty of soaring like an eagle”. And talking of large birds, we were lucky enough to see a number of vultures enjoying the thermals above us. The company website also allows you the opportunity to support Vulpro – an initiative dedicated to saving the vultures. See the info block below for more information.
The ”Boost ‘n Bounce”.
When we had explored to our hearts’ content, we climbed back into the car, which has been sanitised again for us, and started our decent. With a startling ‘whoosh’ you leave the platform at an unexpected, somewhat exhilarating, rate of knots. Once your butterflies are settled again, the ride down is serene, scenic and just plain stunning. The rugged mountainside, the sheer cliffs and the indigenous vegetation are a joy to behold.
Benches along the way allow you to pause and absorb the serenity.
I can highly recommend this attraction as a welcome break from everyday life, barely an hour’s drive from Jozi and slightly less from Pretoria. If you choose to go on the weekend, it’s probably worth getting there earlier rather than later if you’re not a fan of crowds. All in all, a simply wonderful couple of hours in a delightful, professional and efficient venue…
#cableway #hartiescableway #northwesttourism
Jacqui Ikin & The Cross Country Team
You can do your bookings online via Web Tickets – which is also available at Pick ‘n Pay. This link is on their comprehensive web site – as is any other info you could possibly need. It’s important to note that they don’t accept cash anywhere on the premises, and no pets or weapons are allowed.
HOW TO FIND:
Address: Plot 3, Melodie, Agricultural Holdings, Hartbeespoort
GPS coordinates: S 25°43’11.6″ EO 27°53’04.8″
(Waze took us there perfectly!)