Mafikeng - The aerial cableway at Hartbeespoort is back, in a brand new guise and with state-of-the-art management and safety features.
It replaces the popular old cableway that operated for 32 years until it fell into such disrepair by 2005 that it had to be shut down.
“This is a world-class facility,” said Minister of Tourism Marthinus van Schalkwyk, who was the main speaker at this week’s opening ceremony of what is called the Aerial Cableway Hartbeespoort. “We should have more such facilities that can compete internationally.”
The R50 million revamp has been carried out by Zargodox (PTY) Ltd, whose chief executive, Graig Saunders, said the cost could have been as high as R100m but for the innovative engineering and construction methods used.
The cableway stretching up the rugged mountain side is 1.2km long. Its 14 modern Swiss cable cars carry up to six passengers each and offer 360º views, including the mountain’s low bush and sheer cliffs, across the Hartbeespoort Dam, its adjoining agricultural holdings, sprawling housing developments and the Magaliesberg stretching away in the distance.
The views from the top are even more spectacular. A neatly paved walkway take visitors from the cable station along the brim of the mountain, allowing vistas of the landscape north-west of the mountain that stretches away towards Brits and in the direction of Rustenburg.
A heavy smog hung over the valleys on the opening day, but the guests who attended the ceremony were told that on clear days Sandton and even the sports centre at Soweto could be seen.
There are information tables along what is called the Dassie Walkway, giving visitors information on the area, the dam, Pretoria, Joburg, the ferrochrome mine at Brits, and even on faraway Botswana.
The cableway’s base station, a spired face-brick structure, has a 250-seat Bugatti restaurant. There is a shop that sells jewellery, toys, curios and children’s clothing.
The top station has a Bugatti Express restaurant, a Pizza Shack and a Lookout Bar that allows guests to survey the sweeping landscape while having a drink. Visitors can also sit on wooden benches under thatched canopies to have refreshment in the shade while surveying the surrounds. There is also a “Little Shop at the Top” that sells mementoes and curios.
The cableway is open seven days a week, from 9am till 4.30pm in winter. In summer it will stay open later to allow sunset views and evening dining on top of the mountain.
Tickets cost R120 per adult and R60 for children from 4 to 14. Reservations made online at www.hartiescableway.co.za cost R100 and R50, respectively. - Saturday Star