July 19, 2013

Winter Getaways in South Africa

Winter is the perfect time to get away from it all – take a weekend break and cosy up next to the fire or explore a new area. In our gorgeous country we have no shortage of fantastic places to visit for a weekend – and some of them are particularly special in winter. Here are 5 ideas to get you thinking...

Cape Winelands
It is not for nothing that the Cape Winelands is known as the culinary capital of South Africa – and what better time to indulge in mouth-watering food than on a chilly winter’s day?Franschhoek, Stellenbosch, Paarl, Robertson and the other little villages making up this famous area of the Cape boast award-winning wine estates and restaurants, renowned for their use of wine, cheeses, olives and fruits. When you can't eat another morsel you can browse the art galleries and quaint shops that sweep over oak-lined streets or burn off all that food cycling, hiking or walking the spectacular mountains, fruit farms and vineyards.

Places to stay:  The Spier Hotel, Lanzerac Hotel & Spa, Protea Hotel Stellenbosch & Protea Hotel Franschhoek, Grande Roche Hotel, Jan Harmsgat Country House, Robertsons Small Hotel

The Drakensberg
The Drakensberg is magical no matter when you visit –but in winter, when the peaks are capped with snow and frost coats the ground, extra special whispers of magic seem to echo through the mountains and valleys.  Forget the Scottish Highlands - this is South Africa’s very own Winter Wonderland – with no rain! Hikers, adrenaline junkies and nature lovers will not be bored when faced with  the 200km+ range of mountains and valleys.
Places to stay: Cleopatra Mountain Farmhouse, Three Cities Alpine Heath Resort, Cathedral Peak Hotel. 

Game Reserves
Not much beats the bush in winter – crisp sunny winter days, lazy game drives, cosy open-air dining by the fire and the sounds of the bush lulling you to sleep at night. The game reserves in Mpumalanga and Limpopo, with their usually mild and sunny days, make for an ideal, winter-warming break. Whether you head to the Kruger National Park - the best do-it-yourself drive-through reserve – or to the ultra luxurious private bush camps in the Sabi and Timbavati areas, a couple of days surrounded by nothing but nature is exactly what the doctor ordered.
Places to stay: Protea Hotel Kruger Gate, Mjejane River Lodge, Sabi Sabi Private Game Reserve, Lion Sands, Legend Golf and Safari Resort. 

If the sounds of the sea and forest are what you are yearning for this Winter, head to Tsitsikamma. Indigenous forests, deep river gorges and waterfalls create a lush, green landscape perfect for the many outdoor activities on offer. Hiking, blackwater tubing, zip lining, bungy jumping, hiking, horse trails and canopy tours ensure that you will forget all about the chill in the air! Otherwise cuddle up next to the fire and daydream while listening to the call of the Fish Eagles…
Places to stay: Phantom Forest Eco Reserve, Tsitsikamma Village Inn. 

Hot springs
Relaxing in the warm waters and steam of a hot spring in the middle of winter – doesn’t that just sound perfect? There are various hot springs in South Africa to choose from - from  Limpopo to Citrusdal, Montagu, Avalon, etc – so wherever you are in the country a hot spring is a great idea for a winter weekend away.
Places to stay: The Baths Citrusdal, Montagu Guano Cave Resort (Read about Montagu Guano Cave Resort here)

Where is your favourite local winter weekend getaway? Let us know – we love to hear from you!


Ah Yes - the age old question - is Winter really the best time to Safari ? Personally I prefer August, but that's too specific for some.

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