Who we are

You’re welcome to bring your learners for a day visit or to stay for as long as you want them to. The longer you stay the more your learners will thank you!

Happy Acres (the oldest children’s environmental centre in South Africa) provides a prepared environment that enables children to learn more about themselves, the environment, and their peers. We are located close to the Magaliesburg Village, about an hour’s drive from Johannesburg and Pretoria.

We have a range of programs including natural science, leadership and social sciences courses, and holiday or fun camps.

Facilities for Activities

Happy Acres has intentionally chosen activities that require minimal equipment with the aim of enhancing interaction between children, by encouraging children to use natural materials and facilities as props to get away from materialistic mindsets, minimise pollution and to maximise flexibility for games.


Instead of obstacle courses and toys, we use well thought out games and portable props that are tailored for the wide range of activities we offer.


Low energy activities are usually run on the main property. Strategic group games are usually run at the mill and more nature-based activities are run at Kingfisher Bend.

Outdoor Ecological Facilities


Our pristine grassland, which is at the end of a rocky road or 3km walk, has one of the highest diversities of plants, insects and arachnids in the country. Grasslands closer to the main property, are not as spectacular, but have a diversity which is adequate for teaching basic grassland ecology.

Riparian Forest

We have about 2km of almost pristine riparian forests and about 1 km of river frontage which is under continual threat from exotic plants, which provides an excellent example for studying the dynamics of what a riparian system should be and the devastating impact of exotic plants.

River system

Our property starts about 1km from the source of the Magalies River, providing an excellent quality of water to demonstrate the kind of life that occurs in clean water which is why most local universities use our property to teach students how to conduct water quality tests.


One of the most common memories we are told about by people who visited Happy Acres as a child 30-70 years ago is about their memories of catching crabs or scorpions in their natural habitats. As adults, it is our obligation to provide opportunities for children to experience the thrill of nature at an early age.

Educational Animal House

The animal exhibit contains two rooms, with invertebrates in one and vertebrates in the other. The invertebrates on display include hydra, annelids, molluscs, arachnids, insects and crustaceans. Our vertebrates include fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds and a few small mammals. Time permitting, learners may be able to handle some reptiles or mammals.

Educational Greenhouse

Our greenhouse showcases the development of plants from ancient algae and bryophytes to hyper-specialised angiosperms. The angiosperms are arranged according to habitat showing the adaptations that have enabled plants to inhabit almost all corners of our planet.


The facilities above all house living examples that showcase the tremendous diversity of life on earth. The displays, explanatory posters and curriculum-tailored workbooks provide a prepared environment where learners can self-discover practical confirmation and extensions of what they are taught in the classroom. Our passionate and highly qualified field guides are available to take your learners through the displays. Once learners have seen the examples in the displays, they become far more aware when visiting our riparian forests and pristine grassland.

Closed Loop Farming, Insect breeding, Fungi House, Butterfly House

We are in the process of re-establishing these facilities which were closed during the COVID lockdown. If this is what you’re interested in, ask us how far the restorations have progressed.

Our Three Properties

Our three properties, totalling 73 hectares, range from the developed main property to pristine grasslands offering wide open spaces.


  • The main property, the smallest and most developed property, has 8 dormitories, a hall, swimming pool, sports field, and outdoor stage/amphitheatre.
  • The Old Mill, which is a historic semi-developed property, educational displays,
  • large lawns, and river frontage.
  • Kingfisher Bend is the largest and least development property with about 1km river frontage, rocky hills, pristine grasslands with about 8km of hiking trails.


  • Eight dormitories that can sleep up to 140 learners in double bunk beds.
  • Girls and boys sleep in separate dormitories.
  • Students must bring their own bedding (sleeping bag / duvet and sheet).
  • Up to 11 educators can be accommodated (five rooms have 2 single beds and one single room).
  • Teachers’ rooms include bedding and en-suite bathrooms, are located close to the respective dormitories to allow for the educators to monitor students at night. Night duty counsellors are not needed, but can be arranged at an extra cost.


  • Our menu has been developed over decades, by choosing what children enjoy.
  • All meals provided are nutritious, delicious and cooked on-site.
  • We are able to provide vegetarian meals if needed, and while every effort will be made to assist with other special needs, specific eating plans are, unfortunately, not possible.

When is the Best Time of Year for you to Visit?

Leadership or Fun Courses

There are benefits for both summer and winter courses. Swimming is always a hit during warmer months, but the early and cold nights are just as special. Winter camps are surprisingly some of our happiest camps as the campers have far more meaningful interactions with one another.

Natural Science Courses

With Magaliesburg being a summer rainfall area with very cold winters, the amount of life that can be easily observed is very different during the four seasons. The biodiversity is spectacular during the rainy seasons, but many forms of life are dormant during winter.


Before booking, please carefully consider what your goals of visiting are and choose the time of year according to your objectives.

Course Content

Our courses are designed for learners to apply practical learning to their school syllabus. Happy Acres workbooks encourage students to experience the joy of self-discovery.

Own Programme

Groups wishing to run their own leadership, church, youth group or special interest (e.g., karate, drama, drum majorettes, sports, music, etc.) programmes are welcome to make use of our facilities.


Our Field Guides are available to facilitate and run the course. The basal rate assumes that educators will assist with the facilitation of courses, so provides 1 facilitator for every 30 learners. If teachers would prefer not to be involved, additional facilitators can be arranged at an extra cost.

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