Monday, 26 January 2015

I wandered lonely as a cloud

Yesterday I got to tick off one of the items on my bucket list - a trip up the totally refurbished and modernised Hartbeespoort Aerial Cableway - and I'm chuffed to say it actually exceeded my expectations.

Unlike Cape Town's Table Mountain Aerial Cableway, which has two large cable cars, accommodating 65 passengers each, the Harties one has 14 small cable cars, accommodating six passengers each, which makes for a much better viewing experience for all the passengers during the ascent and descent.

With tickets for a return cable car trip costing R175 per adult / R95 per child age 4 - 14 / R100 per pensioner, and a 'no food or drinks on the cableway' policy - meaning you're supposed to buy everything at one of their (several) restaurants at the top or bottom - this is by no means a 'cheap 'n cheerful' family day out. That said, the place is spotless and all the facilities are immaculately maintained, so you know your money is being well utilised.

Although the 1km Dassie Loop, with its 360º views of Hartbeespoort Dam on the one side and platinum mines on the other, is reminiscent of the circular trail atop Northcliff Ridge, it is far superior in three respects: it is completely wheelchair friendly (lovely smooth cement path with no potholes or collapsed sections); it has a low stone wall on the steep slope side to keep visitors on the path; and there are engraved granite signposts directing one's gaze to landmarks like PelindabaThe Dome and Sun City, amongst others, which I think is a great feature for visitors who may not be as familiar with the surrounding terrain as us locals. [Following the fatal fall of 21-year-old Cheynne Holloway off Northcliff Ridge last weekend, I sincerely hope that the municipal powers that be use this opportunity to fast-track the allocation of funds so desperately needed to upgrade the safety aspects of our Northcliff trail to a similar standard as the Harties one before another tragedy strikes.]

For those of you who haven't yet been to Harties Cableway and are thinking of going, I would suggest doing so on a sunny winter's afternoon when it's not so freakin hot (it was a blinding 34ºC in the shade at 3:30pm yesterday), and you can actually watch the sunset. According to the friendly gent running the restaurant at the base station, their liquor license only allows them to trade till 5pm (10pm for private functions, like conferences or weddings), so they have implemented a year-round closing time of 4:30pm, with the last cable car ride down at 4:45pm. This is fine in winter (4:45pm is just shy of sunset), but not so great in summer (sunset is around 7pm on the highveld at the moment). I didn't like the feeling of being 'rushed off' the mountain a full two-and-a-half hours before, what I knew would become, the most phenomenal photo ops.

All in all, a fab few quality hours with my boys. I love the Magaliesberg, and want to make the effort to do more daytrips this year, now that Goran is at an age to really appreciate all that the area has to offer.