Dreaming of an escape filled with cosy blankets, fireplaces, heartwarming food and oodles of outdoors space and fresh air? There’s nothing quite like a winter getaway to lift the spirits and recharge those batteries – whether you’re planning on hiking to some of South Africa’s most scenic spots or doing nothing but curling up with a good book.
But first, a note on health and safety regulations and travel at the moment:
Gauteng dwellers may not be able to travel currently during adjusted level 4 regulations but when you’re able to, and for the rest of the country, do so responsibly. The tourism and hospitality industry has put in heaps of work over the last year and a bit to refine their health and safety protocols and travelers can rest assured that all protocols are in place. Of course, we each have a personal individual responsibility to adhere to regulations and keep safe, not only for the benefit of ourselves and our families but all those we come into contact with.
More than ever, with many hotels, guesthouses and restaurants choosing to close for the next 2 weeks or only able to offer takeaway coffees and meals, do what you can to support these local establishments.
Here are 5 cosy winter escapes to bookmark for winter 2021:
Nestled in the foothills of the Maluti Mountains in the Free State, lies the quaint and cosy town of Clarens. Situated pretty much equidistant from Joburg and Durban, Clarens is a popular weekend getaway for city dwellers looking for an easy road trip and country escape.
Enjoy browsing local markets and boutiques, go horse riding or take to the mountains for hiking.
Photo credit: clarens.co.za
Some people may prefer to save the beach getaway for summer but for those who hanker after long walks on windswept beaches or post-beach bubble baths, there’s something magical about the beach in the colder months.
Paternoster is the ideal unspoilt, quiet fishing village. Snap up great deals on fish fresh from the icy Atlantic, go for those long walks or simply cosy up in your accommodation and imagine yourself far away on the coast of England.
Hogs-where? Sure, it’s likely you may not have heard of this little Eastern Cape gem. Nestled in the Amathole mountains after a possibly pot-holed drive (standard for the Eastern Cape: normal cars are absolutely fine – just keep your eyes peeled for cattle and other creatures on the road and avoid driving at night) you’ll wind your way up into the clouds and land up in the tiny hamlet of Hogsback.
You’ll soon understand why the magical village, complete with waterfalls hidden in indigenous forest and a quirky atmosphere thanks to its many local artist residents, is said to have inspired J. R. R. Tolkien’s epic Lord of the Rings novel. Winter is particularly stunning – time your visit right and you could enjoy snow and frozen waterfalls.
The Midlands Meander
You’ll easily be able to feel you’ve stepped into the Swiss or Scottish countryside when you journey to KZN’s Midlands Meander. Misty tree lined avenues lead to cosy stone cottages and farmhouses and horses graze on endless, lush green fields.
This is the spot to sit down for tea and scones, slathered in fresh cream and enjoy a gourmet pub meal with acres of space to exercise it off right afterwards. Or browse the popular Karkloof or Nottingham Road’s Earth Route market.
A safari escape
International visitors flock to experience a ‘classic safari’ – what we have in pretty much our backyards. Whether you’re a fan of the ever-popular Kruger, or the quieter game reserves in the North West or Eastern Cape, you’ll find the perfect bush break for you. There’s accommodation and experiences for all budgets and interests.
Where are you heading to this winter? Make it one to remember and travel responsibly.