Vaal River has always been known as Gauteng’s quick escape. Picture: Supplied.

Haven’t planned that holiday escape as yet? Well, the Vaal River has always been known as Gauteng’s quick escape, a playground for adventure junkies, golf enthusiasts and families with grannies. 

So, if you having holiday FOMO, why not escape to the Vaal and enjoy some timesoaking up the sun and indulging in cocktails. IOL Travel spoke to Rozanne Hamilton, Customer Relationship Executive at BON Hotel Riviera on Vaal, on her top things to do in the area over the festive season.

Have to visit

Con Gusto restaurant is a new addition to the Vaal experience. This fantastic Italian restaurant is set on the banks of the Vaal River, so the scenery is beautiful and the food is amazing.

For the family

There’s no shortage of activities for the children at BON Hotel Riviera on Vaal. There is a full programme of scheduled activities for all ages. These include cupcake decorating, T-shirt painting and mini-masterchef to treasure hunts and obstacle courses for a bit of outdoor fun. If families do want to explore the area, a stop-over at Animal World at Emerald Casino is a popular choice. Children can see hippos, flamingos, iguanas, antelope, monkeys, lions, snakes and more.  

Don’t miss

A river cruise with Aqua Lounge is a must. Cruises depart hourly. “I prefer an early morning cruise, when Mother Nature is waking up or, of course, you cannot beat a sundowner cruise, with something cool to drink and great music,”  says Hamilton.  Aqua Lounge also hosts full moon cruises in the summer.  

Got to try

There’s no shortage of things to do on the river. The Vaal River offers all types of watersports, so if you’re looking for more than a lazy cruise with a cocktail in hand, you’ll be pleased to know that you’ve got plenty of options. The river is abuzz with holiday-makers over season all who are either trying their hand at a new water sport or showing off in style. Water sports on offer at BON Hotel Riviera on Vaal:

·         Jet-skiing

·         Skiing

·         Lift jet board

·         Lift jet pack

·         Parasailing

·         Tube rides

·         Speedboat rides

·         Wakeboarding


If you’re hooked on the outdoors or trail running, cycling or hiking, get lost in Suikerbosrand Nature Reserve in Heidelberg, truly one of the most beautiful nature reserves in Gauteng. The reserve is decorated with an abundance of birds, some lovely waterholes and a good overdose of fresh air. The reserve has a network of 66km of hiking trails which include a short 4km trail for a lovely easy hike (the Cheetah Trail) and a 17km day visitor trail. There is also a 60km motor vehicle tourist route, which is also suitable for cyclists.