Warmbaths Things to Do

  • Things to Do
    by CatherineReichardt
  • Things to Do
    by CatherineReichardt
  • Things to Do
    by CatherineReichardt

Most Recent Things to Do in Warmbaths

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    All this and a wave pool too!

    by CatherineReichardt Updated Sep 12, 2013

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    As a Recovering Geologist, I feel duty bound to inform you that nowhere in reasonable geological history has Warmbaths been located anywhere near a coastline.

    However, the Forever Resort has brought a beachy feel to this recalcitrantly continental part of the world courtesy of its wave pool. Whilst not surfworthy, it offers convincingly robust wave action, and is a marvellous surrogate for those of us constrained to the platteland!

    Like most of Warmbaths' attractions, this pool can be accessed free of charge once you've apid the resort entrance fee.

    Warning: unlike many of Wambaths' other attractions, this is a cold water affair, so is only for the intrepid (or cold blooded) out of season!

    Just one word of warning: visit Warmbaths over a weekend (or any time during school holidays) over the summer period at your peril unless you have a particular liking for crowds, although the wave pool tends to be les busy than the main hot water pools ...

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    Water slides + warm water = winning combination!

    by CatherineReichardt Updated Sep 12, 2013

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    Water slides are a surefire winner with kids, and one of those happy situations where being a good parent and playing with your kids is absolutely no hardship!

    There are a couple of spiral water slides, plus some deceptively bumpy conventional slides ... if you're a beginner, start on the curved ones, as the entry speed off the straight ones feels somewhere close to terminal velocity!

    At Warmbaths, the added bonus is that the water on the slides is warm, so you don't even have to risk a chilly bum! Bonus!!!

    Just one word of warning: visit Warmbaths over a weekend (or any time during school holidays) over the summer period at your peril unless you have a particular liking for crowds and queues ...

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    Inflatable rides are free!

    by CatherineReichardt Updated Sep 12, 2013

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    Continuing on the 'vale for money theme', it's a comfort to the parental pocket to realise that all of the slides and inflatable rides at Warmbaths are free.

    The only things that you'll pay extra for are generally the ones that don't involve the warm water activities, including quad biking, the foefie slide (flying fox/zipline), pedal boats, horse riding, cable water skiing and treatments in the spa complex. These are reasonably priced compared to comparable services elsewhere, but as any parent will know, they do all tend to add up. Fortunately the free activities are so good and so varied that I don't feel any compunction about being a skinflint and refusing to dole out extra funds!

    Just one word of warning: visit Warmbaths over a weekend (or any time during school holidays) over the summer period at your peril unless you have a particular liking for crowds and queues ...

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    Where kid are kids, and adults are kids too!

    by CatherineReichardt Updated Sep 12, 2013

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    Being grown up isn't all it's cracked up to be, and sometimes you just need the opportunity to regress to an earlier, simpler time when your sole responsibility was to enjoy yourself.

    Warmbaths provides just such an opportunity to people of all ages. The pools range from a toddler pool with water about 50cm deep to the main pool, with a maximum water depth of about 1.8m and the (cold water) wave pool. In addition, there is a jacuzzi section in an odd looking boxy structure that is elevated above the main pool, which is perfect for a languid wallow out of the intense sunshine.

    We were there in July 2013 for a weekend with a group of 25, ranging in age from 11 months to 62 years old, and each and every one had a superb time because there was literally something for everyone.

    One word of caution: Bela Bela isn't far south of the Tropic of Capricorn, and the sun is usually intense. So make sure that you pack sunscreen with a high SPF and reapply it throughout the day to avoid burning.

    Lastly, visit Warmbaths over a weekend (or any time during school holidays) over the summer period at your peril unless you have a particular liking for crowds ...

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    Wallowing in Warmbaths!

    by CatherineReichardt Updated Sep 12, 2013

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    The name of the place is confusing: Warmbad in Afrikaans, Warmbaths in English, and now renamed Bela Bela, which means 'the pot which boils' in Setswana just to completely confuse the unsuspecting traveler. However, there's absolutely no doubt what its major attraction is - yes, you've guessed it - hot water!

    The Forever Warmbaths Resort has long been an iconic destination for South Africans seeking affordable holiday accommodation to keep the entire family happily occupied. The complex has been developed around a thermal spring, and the deliciously warm water (32 degrees) is utterly addictive. All sorts of water-related activities have been developed to capitalise on this advantage and include a variety of water slides, pools of different sizes (including a cold water wave pool), pedal boats and even cable water skiiing.

    In addition to the watery attractions, there is also a bewildering variety of other activities on offer, such as mini golf, go karts, mini quad bikes, squash, tennis and target shooting. Should you still be in need of distraction, then there is also a hydo spa complex and a game park.

    The resort offers a wide range of self catering accommodation, as well as camping and caravan sites with shared facilities. There are several restaurants/food outlets as well as a convenience store selling food, drink and basic supplies.

    Warmbaths is a hearty family sort of place, and not the sort of place that you should consider for a secluded romantic retreat. The facilities are excellent - even if the 1960s brick construction is looking awfully dated - and it amuses me no end that the architecture is almost identical to that of every muncipal office in the plaateland! Most importantly it is extremely family friendly, with an excellently equipped first aid station, lots of shady spots of picknicking and attractions that appeal to all age groups.

    Warmbaths was developed as part of the Overvaal (later Aventura) chain of resorts established in the apartheid era to provide affordable family accommodation for white (primarily Afrikaaner) blue collar workers, and still caters for this demographic, albeit with a different racial profile.

    As you might imagine, it is a very popular destination, and is packed out over weekends, public and school holidays. On the other hand, if you go mid week - particularly out of season - you can virtually have the place to yourself. To my mind, it's at its best during winter, when the weather is milder (it never gets really cold there), but that's really a matter of personal preference.

    The good news is that it is possible to use the complex as a day visitor between 07:00 and 17:00. Day visitor rates in August 2013 (off season) were R70 for both adults and children, which rise to R120 for adults and R90 for children in September (the start of the high season). There is a discounted group rates (for parties over 20) but this only applies for weekdays, not weekends.

    Visitors are welcome to bring their own food and drink, but no glass bottles are allowed. It is an almost unbeatable outing in terms of sheer entertainment value, and particularly if you are willing to self cater, it is a reasonably priced way to keep the whole family entertained for an entire day.

    Warmbaths is a manageable - if somewhat long - day trip from Johannesburg and Pretoria. The journey takes about 2 hours from Johannesburg, and just over an hour from Pretoria. The road is excellent, but be aware that there are two toll gates on this road (probably the reason why it's in such good condition, but an irritation nonetheless)! It is a fairly dull drive, and the hardest thing is keeping awake on the return home after wallowing in warm water for the day!

    Just one word of warning: visit Warmbaths over a weekend (or any time during school holidays) over the summer period at your peril unless you have a particular liking for crowds ...

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    The stunning statue that nobody sees

    by CatherineReichardt Updated Sep 8, 2013

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    For fear of stating the obvious, Bela Bela wouldn't be Warmbaths without the hot spring that supplies geothermal water to the complex.

    22 000 litres of water an hour gushes to surface at a scaldingly hot 52 °C, and is mixed with cold water to supply water to the pools at a comfortable temperature of 32 °C (roughly bathwater temperature). To put that into perspective, that's about half a domestic swimming pool's worth of water each and every hour.

    The hot spring was first discovered by the Tswana tribes as they moved southwards into this area from what was then Bechuanaland (now Botswana) in the 19th century. The first farm in the region was subsequently established by a Voortrekker, Carl Van Heerden, who called it Het Bad (Hot Bath in Dutch). At that point, the spring was surrounded by extensive marshland, which was drained to create arable land. These excavations unearthed a large number of animal skeletons, indicating that this had served as an important watering hole, with game probably being attracted in by the mineral content of the water.

    In 2002, the town was renamed 'Bela Bela', which literally translates as 'the pot which boils' in Setswana.

    The point where the spring water issues to surface is marked by this lovely statue. It is located in an overlooked corner to the right hand side of the entry gate and is all but forgotten by visitors too eager to get into the water. Which is a great pity, as it's a lovely piece of sculpture - perhaps worth wandering past on your way out after a hard day's wallowing.

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    Gamespotting on horseback is a must!

    by CatherineReichardt Updated Aug 25, 2013

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    I often used to go game spotting on horseback in the 90s when I used to visit Zimbabwe regularly, but it's years since I've been able to do this. So when the opportunity presented itself for me to do this with my horsemad, animal mad daughter, I jumped at the chance, and soon realised how much I'd missed it.

    Gamespotting in any form is wonderful, but venturing into the bush on the back of a horse brings a whole new - and very special - dimension to the experience. The sense of being on the back of an animal is exhilarating, and provided that you're quiet, you can generally get closer to the game than you'd be able to in a vehicle.

    The horses walk 'nose to tail' under the supervision of a ranger at the front and the back of the group. The rangers will direct you along the trails and provide commentary on the animals that you encounter - every day is different, so (as with all game encounters) there are no guarantees of what you'll see. The routing of the afternoon ride that we did had to be altered because the path ahead was blocked by a very close encounter with three rhino who showed no signs of giving way! By contrast, the highlight of the mid morning ride that we did (where we saw less game than the previous afternoon) was an 'up close and personal' sighting of a 3m rock python which had slithered out of its burrow to bask in the sun!

    No prior riding experience is required, but you need to be 10 or over to participate. You'll be provided with a riding hat, and I would strongly suggest that you wear long trousers and closed shoes to avoid painful chafing, especially if you're not used to riding. I was also pleasantly surprised by the price: R150 for a two hour ride (in August 2013), which is remarkably affordable

    There are several game rides a day, so with a little advance planning, you should be able to find one to fit in with your schedule. If you have a choice, I would recommend that you do the late afternoon (or early morning) ride, when you're likely to see more game: during the day, the big animals tend to seek shelter, so riding at that time, you'll probably see more birds than animals.

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    An unexpectedly good game reserve

    by CatherineReichardt Updated Aug 25, 2013

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    I've been visiting Warmbaths a couple of times a year for the last five years and it was only on my Big Birthday Visit that we ventured into the adjacent Ramoswe Game Reserve for the first time.

    It's unlike us to miss out on any opportunity to visit a game reserve of any time, but this is probably because this was the first time that we'd stayed overnight.

    The game reserve can only be accessed through the resort by prior booking, either by telephone or via the odd little on site office, which is housed in a wooden structure close to the kiddies' pool, which bears more than a passing resemblance to a garden shed.

    The reserve is fairly small, but has a surprisingly good range of game, and it's clear that the management is investing heavily in introducing a wider range of species. Perhaps the biggest drawcard are the five white rhino, but there's plenty more to keep you occupied, including sable antelope, red hartebeest, waterbuck, giraffe and more impala than you can shake a stick at. The mammals aren't the only highlight: the birds are also interesting, and on the morning that we left, we were also lucky enough to happen upon a 3m rock python sunning itself.

    The reserve offers early morning and late afternoon game drives for a very reasonable R100 of adults and R80 for children (at the time of writing in August 2013), which last for about two hours. However, by far the more interesting option is the opportunity to go game viewing on horseback, which is my all time favourite way to explore the bush. This costs a remarkably reasonable R150 for two hours, and as the horses walk in file with rangers at the back and front of the group, no prior riding experience is required.

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    Meeting the cheetah's

    by mvtouring Written Aug 22, 2009

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    We visited De Wildt Shingwedzi reserve which was approx 25km from us. This farm is used for cheetah research and also for giving a home to wild animals that have been caught in traps. they try and rehabilitate where possible and set them free again.

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    Giraffe's in action

    by mvtouring Written Aug 22, 2009

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    Something disturbed them, so I managed to get this great action shot. On the second photo you will see that they are putting their heads together and trying to figure out how to fool the humans that are shooting them with the cameras.

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    Star gazing

    by mvtouring Written Aug 22, 2009

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    We were fortunate. We booked for a night ride and the game rangers contacted us to say that there was a gentleman who wanted to look at the stars. He brought his telescope with so we saw the most fantastic stars that you cannot imagine is up there.

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    Tinktinkie farm stall

    by mvtouring Written Aug 22, 2009

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    What a pleasure to walk into this place. From the moment you stop they have created a feast for the eye. Selling all kinds of interesting preserves and statues, you are bound to find something here to your liking.

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    Jisreel Kwekery

    by mvtouring Written Aug 22, 2009

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    This was a lovely nursery to visit. The plants were so healthy looking and displayed in a very inviting way. unfortunately the teagarden was closed, but the lovely lady did offer us some nice cold water.

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    Nibble on a mopani worm

    by mvtouring Written Aug 22, 2009

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    Well truth be told, I will definately not do this. I squirmed just at the site of the dried ones, let alone cooking the fresh ones. I was told that they only come out a certain time of the year and then everyone runs around to catch them and dry them out. One delicacy that I do not think I will ever try.

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    Informal market

    by mvtouring Written Aug 22, 2009

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    A must visit is the informal market which is actually quite formal. You will find some very interesting artifacts here. Some of the guys are prepared to bargain, others are just not interested. Still it is quite an experience to wander around and see how very arty these people are.

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