There are so many hidden germs in Hartbeespoort you’d be forgiven to think this is a well orchestrated plan by rather the old elite to keep it that way; only accessible to the elite few. But thanks to the organizers of the Nubian Music Festival, ordinary South Africans are now being afforded the opportunity to experience the mesmerizing beauty that abides in this small North West resort town at a fraction of a cost. Now in its second year, the festival brings together a potpourri of some of SA and Africa’s most revered musicians.
Zimbabwean jazz legend Oliver Mtukudzi, the much-loved Selaelo Selota (SA) and Nigerian guitarist Kunle Ayo are some of the main artists billed to perform at this year’s festival. Meanwhile, the younger crowd will be catered for by Candy Tsamandebele, house music sensation MiCasa and 12-time SAMA winner Mafikizolo. Rounding off the December 16 musical lineup is none other than SA’s R&B crooner Donald, Afrotraction, Gugu Shezi, and Lira.
Happening over a four day period, from December 14-17 at the picturesque Eagle Waters Wildlife Resort, a number of unique features make this a complete charmer in a crowded market of festive events. Among the main highlights of the festival is the choice of the venue itself; the only one in the area offering campsites.
A special package for both chalet bookers and campers comes with a range of activities on Dec 14 & 15. This includes access to fishing facilities and a special visit to the lion and cheetah parks. Watersport enthusiasts will have a variety of activities to choose from; be it kayaking, canoeing or catamaran sailing. For adrenaline junkies, a visit to the nearby Haarties Cableway – at an additional cost – should be among their to-do list.
Meanwhile, full package ticket holders will round off their experience with a champagne breakfast boat cruise on Monday, December 17. Day visitors can make the most of their time by taking advantage of special packages, ranging from R300 (general) and R1 500 (VIP).
Speaking to NOWinSA, festival founder Mpho Mathope, who also own the Conference and Lifestyle Centre says: “This year’s festival builds on the strong foundation laid by the inaugural event and includes a more diverse range of activities and live performances.”
The primary role of the festival, she adds, is to showcase Hartbeespoort as SA’s beacon of tourism. “A lot of people don’t know what exactly is there to offer visitors at Hartbeespoort. For an example, you don’t need to go to Cape Town to experience the cableway. We have it right here, just an hour drive from Johannesburg.” She adds: “Also if you are into Safaris, you can enjoy a wide range of unique treats found in all of our various festival establishments.”
We were, however, surprised to learn that in addition to her already busy work schedule, she also manages Eagle Waters Resort on behalf of the North West government. “As we speak, the resort is in the process of being transferred to the community of Mekgareng who laid a land claim over many years ago.” For those not in the know, she’s referring to the highly publicized 1998 land claim saga, which Makgareng community members say it was forcefully taken from their ancestors. It was also the subject matter in the award-winning documentary Promised Land.
Harties, SA’s tourism beacon
On how things are going with the newly reconstructed Graceland Lifestyles Centre, which she bought more than a year go, Mathope glowingly tells us that she has just returned from a promotional tour to the US, where tourist interest (to Harties) is growing incredibly huge. “I already have bookings for the next summer, which is our winter. I also had the opportunity to exhibit at the Durban Tourism Indaba in May, and I have bookings from Poland already.”
She added: “The polish do lots of spiritual retreats and since Graceland has a chapel and a hall, they want to come here. Besides, as a lifestyle resort, we have a number of spa treats at our fully functional wellness spa, complete with relaxing Jacuzzi baths and steam rooms.”
Healthy treats await guests
Helping guests cultivate healthy eating habits is also high on the agenda for Mathope. As such, most of the food that Graceland visitors consume comes from their garden. Furthermore, most of the drinks, as well as the meals served at the hotel are also fermented, meaning they come with amazing health benefits. “As you know, a lot of ailments we suffer from are caused by the food we consume. And since I’ve been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, I know all too well the importance of leading a healthy lifestyle, from exercising to watching what I eat.” She adds: “In a nutshell, I’m offering Graceland as a home away from home, purely for rejuvenation purposes.”
Our personal favorite
Wildlife at Eagle Waters
True wildlife enthusiast will sure enjoy their stay at the resort – just as we did during our brief visit last week. It was truly an enthralling experience seeing kudus and zebras freely roaming and grazing around the park. If you are keen bird watchers, you’ll sure to spot a handful of over 340 identified bird species, including the golden-headed cisticolas, and African pipits.
Wellness spa par excellence
Wondering what else was left to do after a roller coaster programme that included a visit to the festival site and a brief orientation to some of the resort’s recreational offerings. Not to forget to mention a welcome dinner for both the media and artists? Nothing beats a well-deserved retreat to our comfortable rooms (at least I thought), located within the scenic Graceland Lifestyle Centre. But wait, a tempting full body massage offer was made out of the blue during dinner which I couldn’t resist. Likewise, this turned to be the highlight of my trip, allowing me to briefly escape my “burdensome” world and enjoy a full hour of non-sensory stimulus.
With a set of well-contained wooden spa cottages, located in a tranquil quiet setting with own private entrance, what else could a busy Jozi lass ask for! Add to that a friendly and approachable massage therapist, who made me feel comfortable even as I laid there almost butt naked; except of course for a light drape covering me where it matters most. Remember, undergarments can get in the way of the right pressure strokes, movements, and techniques. Especially if like me, you are opting for a full package, which is guaranteed to leave you feeling like a “million dollar babe”; body, mind, and soul.
Nubian Music Festival Accommodation
From camping facilities for the wild at heart to the relaxing farm-styled cabins at the 3-star graded Eagle Waters, there’s a variety of accommodation options to choose from. This includes an array of luxurious chalets at the 4-star grade Graceland Lifestyle Centre, which is 31km away from the festival venue. Alternatively, you can opt for the Alpha Conference Centre or Amazingwe Lodge, situated just 13km and 10km away from respectively. Accommodation booking requests can be made at email@example.com.
Meanwhile, general tickets for the festival are available at Computicket.