It is the people that make Mpumalanga great and Rassie Schoeman is no exception. Owner of Eco Quads Adventures, Oppikoppi Inni krater accommodation and Oppidam House Boats, Rassie has invested in the Genesis Route and is passionate about promoting it. When asked what he does with his days his wife Valerie is quick to answer that he can be found 32 days a month captaining a boat on his beloved Vygeboom dam. When he is not sailing he is exploring the country with his wife in his motorhome, ensuring they stop at every farm stall, town and potential attraction along the way. Their knowledge of South Africa is encyclopaedic yet its Barberton and Badplaas that they call home, making Rassie the perfect person to help uncover Badplaas.
What makes the Badplaas special?
Badplaas came about because of its hot springs. They were an attraction in gold mining days and are still drawing people to the town as they are now part of the Forever Resorts. This is an incredibly popular holiday resort where you can bathe in the hot springs, enjoy luxury spa days or get out in nature on the Eco Quad biking adventures.
While Forever Resorts is the main reason people come to Badplaas, there are a lot of other amazing attractions like Vygeboom dam. Vygeboom is also fed by the Badplaas hot springs, which make the water crystal clear and in places incredibly warm, In fact it is consider the cleanest dam waters in South Africa. This makes it perfect playground for water lovers, whether its swimming, fishing, sailing, canoeing, wakeboarding, water skiing, windsurfing, or simply resting by the banks and enjoying a braai!
If we had one day, where would you take me and why?
I believe in the ‘Wow Factor’. I want you to come out with me for the day and come back saying ‘WOW that was way more than I expected’.
So we would definitely start with a quad bike safari in the Forever Resort’s reserve. Here you will get closer to the game then you would ever be able to in a car. The animals are so used to the quads that they simply ignore them, allowing you to get incredible photos. In fact people are starting to use them for photographic safaris! For people who haven’t ridden a quad before simply driving them around is an adventure and for those that have the river crossings and ranges of terrains we cover make it exciting.
I would then take you for lunch on our ‘Picnic Boat’ on Vygeboom dam. With its build in braai, the picnic boat allows us to cook and eat lunch while we cruise the dam! There are so many beautiful spots on the dam to moor up and enjoy the sights and sounds of the dam. If you like fishing I could show you our secret spot where every time you reel in your line you have a fish on the end of it! Or if you fancy a bit more adventure we could do some super tubing!
Finally I would let you spend the night on one of our houseboats. Sleeping out on the open water is an unforgettable experience. After the sun has gone down you will be treated to the spectacle of thousands of fire flies lighting up the reed beds and in the morning you will be woken by the sounds of fish eagles. What more could you want?
Where is the best place to grab a bite to eat?
It would have to be the Badplaas Family Restaurant at Forever Resorts. Most people don’t realise that you don’t have to stay at the resort to use the restaurant, so it really is a hidden gem. Everything they serve is great, but my advice would be to choose the T-bone – it is phenomenal! The atmosphere there is the reason we go, its cosy and friendly making it the kind of place you keep going back to!
What are the top 5 things to do or visit along the Genesis Route?
Vygeboom Dam would have to be number one. There simply isn’t anywhere else like it in Mpumalanga, as it makes sailing accessible to everyone. It is the only place that you can hire a picnic boat or a house boat and cruise the dam at your own pace. We also have our ‘Floating Cocktails’ party boat that is ideal for anyone looking for a novel venue for their function or event. We have had weddings, birthday parties, year-end functions, and almost every other party you can imagine on this boat. The dam provides the ideal setting for anyone looking for water based fun!
Forever Resorts would also among the top five. It really is a fantastic family resort with something for everyone.
Then there is the Cradle of Life game drives. The 2pm feeding drive is the one to go , here you watch big cats from all over the world being fed. All the animals have been rescued in way, whether it is from traps, zoos or the pet trade. So what they are doing is really worthwhile and it is also educational as the guides tell you all about the different predator species they have.
The Barberton Quadbike trails we run would also have to be on there. These offer a completely different experience Eco Adventure Quadbike trails we do in Badplaas. Our half day trail is called the 14 Streams because you need to do 14 river crossings there and 14 back! Its great fun for anyone feeling adventurous and you don’t need quad biking experience to enjoy it. The scenery is magnificent and you really get to see some of the amazing plants and animal species that Barberton is famed for. Then we have a whole day adventure where riders get to immerse themselves in Barberton’s heritage with a trip to Eureka City, which is now a ghost town. The trail is quite demanding so you do need some previous quadbike experience, which is why we suggest novice riders do the 14 streams first. However the views along the trail and the feeling of achievement when you reach Eureka City at the top of the mountain makes this route a real ‘Wow Factor’ experience!
Finally for those looking for something a little different I would recommend a trip to the town of Hendrina. Here you will find an incredible little antiques shop that serves the best traditional Afrikaans food. The shop is called Antiek Sjiek, and is full of incredible antiquities. Make sure you bring your wallet as everyone who goes in there comes out with something! It is about an hour’s drive from Badplaas but is well worth the visit.
What makes Mpumalanga stand out from all the other Provinces?
Mpumalanga means ‘the place where the sun comes up’. What makes it beautiful is that the sun comes up over a number of different terrains. We have the Highveld, the Lowveld and also the Middleveld where Badplaas is situated. Here it doesn’t get as cold as the Highveld in winter so people from Gauteng flock here to escape the cold, but equally during the hot Lowveld summers people from Nelspruit come here in droves to escape the heat. It really is the perfect location, providing a wonderful escape for people the year round. For me it is about putting a smile on people’s face and Mpumalanga certainly does that.
Contact details for the activities & attractions mentioned by Rassie:
Vygeboom Dam: Open 365 days a year, just outside Badplaas on the R38. Prices vary depending on the season and the accommodation selected (Camping, Caravanning, House Boats or Dam Houses). Contact Valmari (email@example.com | +27 (0) 13 712 6498 or +27 (0) 82 458 5713)
Eco Quadbike Adventures: Open 6 days a week non-school holidays and 7 days a week during the school holidays. Prices depend on the tours (Badplaas Eco Tour, 14 Streams in Barberton or the Barberton Eureka City Tour). For more information contact Valmari (firstname.lastname@example.org | +27 (0) 13 712 6498 or +27 (0) 82 458 5713)
Forever Resorts: Open 365 days a week, is incredible popular over long weekends or school holidays so booking in advance is suggested. For reservations contact (www.foreverbadplaas.co.za |+27 (0)17 844 8000).
Cradle of Life: Open 365 days a year. Game drives are at 10am and 4pm and the feeding drive is at 2pm. Game drives cost R110 per adult and R55 for children, the feeding drive is R150 for adults and R75 for children. There is lovely overnight accommodation and a restaurant on site. For more information including costs contact (email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org |+27 (0)82 345 1924)
Antiek Sjiek: Open 365 days a year, 9am to 5pm weekdays and until 3pm on weekends and Public Holidays. It can be found on the corner of Kerk and Mouton Street in Hendrina. For more information contact: (email@example.com | +27 (0) 13 293 0895 or +27 (0) 82 684 3821).