Take a short left to lots of fun

WE ARE in the middle of a holiday season and some of us might not have spare cash to travel overseas or even to some of the popular local destinations such as Cape Town and Durban. But if you are in Gauteng, or will be during this holiday season, you need not break the bank to have a good time right here

Besides you will have fun to rival the experience you would have had had you travelled long distances.

I have said it before and will say it again: the Cradle of Humankind around the Magaliesberg area has so much to offer visitors. Its not far, and not that expensive either. But one thing sure - you will have fun for a reasonable cost.

I recently joined a media tour, organised by the provincial government's economic development department. The aim was to show us what one can do with a limited budget. And what fun we had.

The whole tour was based on the department's concept of wrapping up its summer company by creating what they call My Bucket List, a plan aimed at getting Gautengers to visit the area and experience some of the more than 400 activities and attractions that can be enjoyed right on their doorstep.

It's just 40km from Joburg and 60km from Pretoria.

There is such an incredible variety of things to do for all ages - from young couples, families with kids, and friends to senior couples. These range from communing with nature, treating your taste buds to delicious food sensations, exploring the origins of one's ancestors, shopping for arts and crafts, fresh farm produce and furniture, camping under the stars or experiencing exquisite boutique hotel and picturesque country lodges, abseiling down caves or quad biking through the valleys - the list is endless.

This list was created because the authorities found that not enough Gautengers know what's in the cradle area and tend to see it more as Maropeng and the Sterkfontein Caves, where you can go and discover your origins and mix with fossils.

So, knowing that we've all got a list of activities (some secret, and some not so) that we'd really like to do at some stage of our lives, the authorities created a Bucket List. For most people their list is a mixture of adventurous activities, of being spoilt and pampered and of experiencing the magical and the out of the ordinary.

Our programme was quite tight but enjoyable. We hit the road at about 9am, leaving from Kagiso Media offices in Parktown. They were the trip facilitators. We arrived at Leafy Greens at 10am and enjoyed a variety of delicious vegan snacks at this exquisite restaurant.

Then it was off to Hollybrooke Farm at 11am, where we enjoyed a amusing afternoon of horse riding and quad biking through this pretty farm. A relaxed lunch at the Kloofzicht Resort followed.

I must say, for a place that hosted some World Cup teams last year, the service here was unsatisfactory as the waiters appeared weary, mixing orders. Some food items on the menu were not available. Pity, though, because the view from the restaurant - the valleys and the dammed water - is beautiful.

We arrived at Maropeng Hotel at about 6pm and savoured the beautiful views over cocktails.

We got up at 4am sharp to drive to Bill Harrop's Ballooning, where we had lots of fun.