When winter kicks in most of us tend to hibernate indoors with a good bottle of pinotage, blankets, stews and classic movies. The thought of packing a car, throwing caution to the wind and venturing off on a road trip around South Africa isn’t quite appealing as it is during warmer summer months.
However there are some benefits of travelling in winter! Who can resist less crowded destinations, flickering fires in cosy cabins with lashings of hot comfort food with that great bottle of pinotage!
Here’s our pick of top 5 winter destinations in South Africa:
The Wild Coast
Renowned for its beautiful beaches, wildlife and proud heritage and culture, the Eastern Cape offers tourists everything from extreme action sports to gentle flower trails, heritage museums, game reserves and parks.
Travelers can enjoy some of the best winter hikes, horse trails, fly – fishing and mountain biking along the wild coast.
The picturesque Drakensberg Mountains of South Africa is a 200 km long mountainous wonderland. This world heritage site features some of the highest peaks in Southern Africa as well as some of the oldest rock paintings in Southern Africa, with some sites dating back to over 25 000 years. The art is sophisticated both in detail and depth of meaning, with animal images being a major symbolic element. It is found mainly in caves and on rock overhangs.
Travellers on this route can enjoy beautiful hikes in the mountains when the peaks are not covered in snow and avid fly- fishermen can enjoy some top class trout fishing in one of the country’s most pristine and unspoilt locations. Don’t forget to pack your passport if you decide to go beyond the borders into the Lesotho region.
The Jewel of the Free State
Situated just a comfortable three-hour journey from Johannesburg and nestled in the arms of the Maluti Mountain range, The Jewel of the Free State, overlooks fertile farmlands amidst stunning landscapes, with Lesotho visible in the distance.
Ok, it gets pretty cold but the days are mostly bathed in warm winter sunbeams and breathtaking views await your every turn. For the cosy apartments, crackling fire and woolly-blanket-lovers, this route is a must!
Elephant Coast Route
The warmer, moderate climate of the KZN coastline is the perfect place to enjoy some winter sunshine.
This route stretches from St Lucia St Lucia to Kosi Bay, across to the Lubombo Mountains in the west and includes the Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Game Reserve. Although a relatively small area, not only is it home to the traditional Big Five, but also offers all that the Greater St Lucia Wetlands Park has to offer, including whales, turtles, protected reefs and pristine, protected coastline. An area world-renowned for conservation, untamed wilderness and unparalleled diversity, the huge variety of habitats and eco-systems are linked and inter-connected, creating a place where visitors are truly spoilt for choice.
Driving to the Kruger Route, travellers will pass through the towns of Phalaborwa and Giyani and realise that there is plenty to be enjoyed in these ancient lands.
Winter is one of the best times for game viewing in the nearby Kruger National Park when the grass is low and water holes are scarce, attracting wildlife in great numbers. With everything from star gazing evenings and wilderness hiking trails to river safaris on the Olifants River followed by a lekker traditional South African braai on the shore of the river afterwards, it doesn’t get much better than this.