Gauteng DestinationsRuimsig, West Rand
Not that long ago (certainly its measurable in decades rather than centuries) driving out on the M47 (Hendrik Potgieter) towards Little Falls from the centre of Johannesburg felt like a drive in to the countryside that took hours.
Today, Little Falls is just down the road from Ruimsig and accompanying suburbs like Allen's Nek, Wilgeheuwel, Radiokop and other places that have mushroomed here as Jo'burg spreads its boundaries. Ruimsig manages, thankfully, to retain much of that countryside feel and is home to the Roodepoort Country Club, said to be one of the most challenging championship golf courses in the country, with no fewer than 72 bunkers and seven water hazards, designed by Gary Player.
As its name suggests, Ruimsig (a mixture of the Afrikaans 'uitsig' and 'ruim,' playing on the idea of views and space) has superb views over the west of Johannesburg and manages to retain a wonderful bird life, possibly because of the presence of the greens of the golf club.
Staying here brings you but a stone's throw from the Walter Sisulu National Botanical Garden, one of the most beautiful and popular green spaces in the city, with a backdrop of the beautiful Witpoortjie waterfall, which not only draws people to its shallows but is also home to a breeding pair of Verreaux's eagles on the cliffs alongside. If you can get there during the week, rather than over the weekend when everyone else heads out here, then exploring the gardens and paths is a wonderful way to wile away hours. You can also venture up alongside the waterfall onto the Roodekrans Ridge.