An hour out of Joburg, just over the Vaal River is a little gem called Parys. This tiny family-friendly “dorpie” on the verge of the Vredefort Dome, has something for everyone and is perfect for a day trip or a weekend away.
To get some local advice, visit the information centre where Louise will give you tips on where to go. One of the best things about a trip to Parys is the people, who are always friendly and willing to help you with whatever you need. As you drive into the main street, both sides are full of unusual and interesting stores and restaurants.
Where to Go
Well worth a visit is En Style, chock-a-block full of odds and ends of everything you can imagine. Stop here to find something to take home with you and enjoy a cup of coffee with a slice of cake after browsing. Speak to Letitia, the owner, if you are looking for something in particular for your home.
A great place for an adrenaline junkie or adventurer is Hakuna Matata. Here you can book guided river rafting down the Vaal, abseiling, horse out-rides and helicopter flips. There are lots of places to stay, especially when it comes to self-catering options. Dell Nature reserve offers chalets that border the Vaal River for a relaxed weekend away, or another great choice is Kommandonek Game Lodge, where there are lots of hiking trails for you to explore.
Rietpoort Cottage has quaint, private cottages that make for a perfect place to stay if you want ample space to walk on well-marked trails while being close to town. While on your walk, you may be joined by “Spoekie” the friendly Jack Russel who is always keen for an adventure. The owner, Gert, has lived on the property for 25 years and is also a local tractor mechanic. On display across the property is an assortment of old farming equipment that adds to the personality of this farm-style accommodation.
When it comes to food, Parys spoils you with everything from local pubs and riverside restaurants to eccentric bistros and coffee shops. In the centre of town, you’ll find the Pickled Pig Ale House, which is the perfect stop for a refreshing craft beer and a unique bar-style meal.
For a relaxed, take-your-time kind of meal for the whole family, visit O’s. The staff are incredibly friendly, the food is great (try the chicken curry, pork neck or bobotie) and the ambience right on the river is unbeatable. Be sure to make a reservation!
Another option for a homely meal is The Lekker Bistro. Filled with antiques and knick-knacks, this weird and wonderful local hangout offers an affordable menu and lots of things to browse and buy. When it comes to things to take home or enjoy during your visit, Plum Tree and Spices on Bree need to be on your list. From homemade biscuits to sweets galore, Plum Tree is absolute sweet heaven.
For a different kind of flavour explosion, visit Spices on Bree for spices and delicious samoosas. Iqbal, the owner, is exceptionally knowledgeable and has taken the time to maintain an old-fashioned flair for the store, giving you tips and recipes to try at home using one of the hundreds of spices on offer. Beware, you’ll go home with more spices than you know what to do with! A store with a difference for the fishing enthusiasts is River Bottom. This store is a revelation, with rows and rows of every kind of fishing paraphernalia you can think of.
All-in-all Parys is an exceptionally friendly, quirky little town. It is full of nooks to explore and places to shop (especially for presents and trinkets).
By Roland van der Merwe and Rose Beard