Words: Georgina Guedes | Images: Supplied

Gautengers don’t need to escape to the seaside to get away from it all. We have some exciting – and unusual – destinations right on our doorstep.

Rest and relaxation

The Satyagraha House, named after Gandhi’s non-violent political resistance philosophy, is the perfect tranquil and contemplative spot where you can immerse yourself in the spirit of the philosophies of Gandhi. Located in Orchards, Joburg, the house was designed and built in 1907 in the style of an African kraal with rondavels and thatched roofs. Between 1908 and 1909, Gandhi shared the house with its architect, Hermann Kallenbach. When the French travel agency Voyageurs du Monde bought the house in 2009, they restored it and opened it to the public as a museum and guesthouse. Gandhi’s principles of asceticism are evident in the minimalist décor and simplicity. Guest rooms are decorated in neutral tones, there are no television sets and the chef only serves vegetarian meals which are seasoned from their very own herb garden.

Another great destination is De Kunst Huisje, an eclectic mix of old and new located in the small farming town Bela-Bela, with iconic pieces from the African history mixed with modern touches and amenities like air conditioning, Wi-Fi and DStv. The old farmhouse’s door and windows are painted red with wooden carved chickens on the stoep and the interior is filled with artworks from different eras and styles. You get to stay with a collection of arty flair and rustic decor surrounding you, much like living in an art museum. Guests can watch TV in the living room or have a braai at the pool and make use of patio, garden and braai facilities.

Unique sleeps

If you have ever wanted to be the captain of your own boat, but didn’t want to go through the hassle of getting a skipper’s licence, the Old Willow Houseboat is the perfect getaway. Navigate 55km of the Vaal River, stopping at riverfront venues on the way. You can sleep on board under the starry skies and watch the sun rise and set over the water.

If the “high seas” aren’t for you, be transported to a simpler time and live like a Voortrekker and sleep in an ox wagon, with the comfort of modern luxury. Located high up on the mountainside overlooking the Hartbeespoort Dam, Oxwagon Lodge completes the perfect setting for a traditional yet simple stay in a bushveld atmosphere. With a lapa, restaurant, braai area, dance floor, outdoor amphitheatre and Oxwagon Museum, this getaway will guarantee you have a memorable experience.

Though it’s unusual to sleep where your food is stored, Fairview Estate made it possible by creating a guesthouse in a renovated grain silo. Located in the Maluti Mountains just outside Fouriesburg, the Fairview Twin Towers look like a rustic, farm-style, trendy holiday home. The space is decorated with old pieces of furniture, vintage photographs, industrial-style lighting and many different textures and patterns inspired by South Africa’s cultures. What’s more, you get to live a luxury farm life with alpacas!

Luxury escapes

If your budget stretches a little further, you can try these luxury themed escapes. Forum Homini Boutique Hotel celebrates the history of mankind, weaving a cave theme into the design and construction of this boutique hotel. The rooms protrude from the earth around a natural wetland, with “stalactite” lights hanging from the roof, and cave art worked into the decor. A visit to Forum Homini, however, is nothing like staying in a cave – the warm, neutral colours of the walls and floors are strategically paired with bright, interesting colours and patterns to give it a quirky finish.

Visit a palace and stay in one of nine themed rooms at The Orient. Each suite is designed as the expression of an exotic concept, with genuine colonial and Eastern artefacts in utterly luxurious surroundings. Guests can indulge in classic activities like browsing through a library, walking through the surrounding Francolin Conservancy, playing petanque and croquet, or picnicking in the floral gardens. Of course, a visit to The Orient wouldn’t be complete without a visit to multi-award-winning Restaurant Mosaic in the heart of the palace – a truly transporting experience of culinary excellence

Experience it for yourself:

Travel writers to follow for inspiration:


  • While staying at Satyagraha, tour Jozi by retracing Gandhi’s footsteps.
  • When in Bela-Bela, get the adrenaline pumping with the Waterberg Zipline Adventures.
  • Canopy tours at the Cradle of Humankind.
  • Hot-air ballooning over Hartbeespoort.
  • For treetop obstacles and zip lines, head to Acrobranch in Melrose or Centurion.