22 Jun 3 of South Africa’s Top Winter Destinations
When you think of South Africa, you think sun, sea, surf and safaris. But not all the fun is to be had in summer. Winter definitely has its ups. Benefit from low season savings, escape the summer crowds and wallow in cosy tranquillity. Here are three of our top picks for a wonderful winter getaway (in no particular order).
The Berg will take your breath away – in more ways than one. The awesome and dramatic landscape is breath-taking and so is the cold. But huddle up in your winter woollies and go for a hike along one of the many trails. Drink in the beauty, the ancient rock art, the waterfalls, the eagles turning in the sky above and the rock hyraxes sunning themselves on the rocky outcrops or try some fly-fishing in the clear mountain streams. Spend evenings enjoying scrumptious winter meals and exchanging stories with other travellers while sipping wine in front of the log fire.
This picturesque town about three hours from Johannesburg is not called the Jewel of the Free State for nothing. A refuge of relaxation for weary city souls, artists and nature lovers, it offers something for everyone. With myriad art galleries, a variety of quaint shops, cosy accommodation options and interesting eateries offering a feast for the foodies, there is plenty to experience. Birding, hiking, trout and bass fishing, golf and clay pigeon shooting will keep you occupied, as well as exploring the area. A visit to the dramatic Golden Gate rock formations that turn into a red and gold spectacle at sunset is a must.
Kruger Park via Limpopo
If you have already travelled the well-known Panorama Route to the Kruger Park, here is something new to try. For a mere R200 added to our normal Kruger Park fees, Rhino Shuttles will take you via Limpopo. These are ancient lands as a visit to the Makapans Caves near Mokopani will prove. A World Heritage Site where the famous 3.3 million-year-old Taung skull was discovered, it also yielded fossilised remains of long-distinct animals. In 1845 Chief Makapan and 1 000 of his followers were besieged in these caves for a month by Paul Kruger and the Voortrekkers.
Travelling on, you pass through the awesomely beautiful Magoebaskloof to Giyani and Phalaborwa, the only town with a gate into the Kruger Park. Phalaborwa is known as “the town with two summers” boasting an average temperature of 23° C throughout the year. This is the region of the famous “upside-down trees” or Baobabs. Local legend has it that these trees were uprooted and flung back to earth by angry gods. Another well-known product from the area is the marula fruit so make sure you buy some Amarula liqueur or marula jam.
All this fun before you’ve even reached the Kruger Park where some superb game viewing awaits you. Winter being the dry season, the vegetation is sparse, the many pans and streams have run dry and herds of game gather at water holes where you can view and photograph them to your heart’s content.