Escape to the Rainy Countryside

by | Apr 18, 2011 | Food and Drink, Johannesburg Day Trips | 8 comments

Joe and I needed a to get away. But we didn’t have much money or time to get away with.

So last weekend we decided to take a short trip to Magaliesburg, just an hour or so from Joburg, and spend the night at a B&B. I was excited at the prospect of getting away from the city, albeit for a short while, to relax in the sunshine and frolic in grassy mountain meadows.

We awoke on Saturday morning to leaden gray skies and chilly pouring rain. Ew. The weather forecast predicted little change for the rest of the weekend. We nearly opted not to go at all, but we’d already put down a deposit. So we went and I’m glad we did.

The town of Magaliesburg is pretty much just a mile-long strip of run-down shops and restaurants. It’s usually a major Sunday morning hangout for bikers (as in motorcyclists) who ride in from Joburg and Pretoria, meet up for breakfast, and ride back. I was looking forward to hanging with with hundreds of tattooed, leather-clad guys on Harleys. What a great blog post that would have been! Unfortunately we didn’t see many bikers and the ones we did see weren’t what I had envisioned. Must have been the rain.

We didn’t see many bikers in Magalisburg but we did see several trains.

The hills around Magaliesburg are very picturesque, which is why they are filled with quaint B&Bs. The place we chose, Matlapa Lodge, is a cozy cluster of thatched chalets surrounded by indigenous plants and flowers and a nice view of the hills. Nothing spectacular, especially compared to other B&Bs we’ve discovered in South Africa, but a nice way to spend a night for R400 (less than $60) per person.

Our hut at Matlapa.

Give me a thatched roof to sleep under and I’m a happy camper.

The best thing about Matlapa Lodge was these gladioli. They were in full bloom all over the property. I took about 5,000 photos of them.

Our closest neighbor was a horse. I never got his name.

I thought the horse wanted to bond with me. Turns out he just wanted to scratch his backside against the fence. (Photo courtesy of Joe.)

Matlapa’s page on says the lodge serves a three-course dinner. That turned out to be untrue. In fact they serve no dinner at all. The only place to eat in town was Wimpy Burger. What to do?

Joe had a revelation. We took off down a winding road. “Prepare to be surprised,” he said.

Surprised I was.

A giant green head grows out of the ground at Goblin’s Cove, the restaurant Joe took me to. It was about 20 minutes from Magaliesburg and well worth the drive.

Goblin’s Cove is more than a restaurant/lodge — it’s a spooky, magical, awesome fairy wonderland. Going there is like transporting yourself into Middle Earth, or maybe Hogwarts.

The pictures say it all.

Our dining room at Goblin’s Cove. They’re usually quite busy on weekends but they were having a slow night because of the rain.

Goblin’s Cove was built and designed by a sculptor named Charles Gotthard. Obviously this place was his brain child. Every room is a work of art.

There are no words.

The Green Goblin — Goblin’s Cove’s specialty cocktail. It’s made from cream soda (which is green in South Africa), grenadine, and white Grapetiser. You can get it with whiskey but I chose the alcohol-free version.

The Veggie Pancake — a crepe-like pancake stuffed with roasted veggies and drowned in cheese sauce. The garnish on top looks like a gnome, but apparently this was a coincidence. It’s made from a handful of spaghetti flash-fried in oil.

Our food was delicious and very reasonably priced. My veggie pancake was R55 (about $8) and Joe had a huge salmon fillet and veggies for R90 ($12).

We didn’t get the chance to see them, but the lodge rooms at Goblin’s Cove are inside a converted 1920s train car. We’re going to get back there as soon as we can because I need to check this place out in the daylight. They have a midweek special — R550 per room, including breakfast.

We slept well at Matlapa Lodge, although we were awakened early by the noisy water pump outside and the occasional distant rev of a motorcycle engine.

After breakfast the sun actually came out, which allowed me to take a lovely outdoor shower without freezing my you-know-what off. (Joe took a nice photo of the outdoor shower but unfortunately I was in it at the time. This is a family blog so I had to leave that shot out.)

I had to take one more picture of the flowers after the sun came out. (Okay, I took about 1,000 more but this was the best of the bunch.) 

We said goodbye to Matlapa Lodge and set off another adventure. Check back soon for the next installment.


  1. Mia

    Oh how lovely! there is nothing like a quick weekend away at one of the many places in Magaliesburg and surrounds. And yes, you never know quite what you are going to get, but it is usually a cool adventure. Mmm, I can almost smell the thatch roof in the rain.

  2. Kathryn McCullough

    Sounds like a great place to visit–just sorry you didn’t get the horse’s name. The Derby-ready Kentuckian in me is disappointed. Better equestrian luck next time————–

    • 2summers

      Yeah, I meant to ask the B&B owners but kept forgetting.

  3. Fidel

    That Goblin’s Cove looks so cool, I love the sculpture. I want to taste those pancakes!

  4. Greg

    Very cool restaurant! We ate at a ‘theme restaurant’ on our trip – I plan to post photos in a future blog entry. Looks like a beautiful weekend getaway. I can’t wait until my next one 🙂

  5. Serene32

    Looks amazing! Quirky yet comfortable and a big thumbs up to outdoor shower, I *love* outdoor showers!

    • 2summers

      Yes, it was a little chilly for an outdoor shower that day but totally worth it.


Leave a Reply