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Posted on: Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Escape Christmas – 10 places far from the madding crowds

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Not everyone loves Christmas. And even if you do, the ensuing bun fight in the Woolworths aisle, when all you wanted was to pick up last minute salad leaves, is nobody’s idea of festive fun.

Escape Christmas to these hand-picked spots around South Africa, selected for their privacy and promise of space …


The Haga Haga Hotel
The Hotel in Haga Haga on the Wild Coast, Eastern Cape

Cape Cottage, Scarborough, Cape Town

Right on the other side of the peninsula from the rest of Cape Town, Scarborough remains a rather random smattering of homes and beach houses against the steep mountains of Slangkop and Red Hill, overlooking the Atlantic. A sea view deck, beautiful and tasteful décor, and an interesting library, this cottage is hard to beat.

Haga Haga Hotel, Haga Haga, Wild Coast

In the heart of the Wild Coast, the little seaside village of Haga Haga lies at the mouth of the Haga Haga River surrounded by lush green hills betwixt forested river valleys. A wonderful beach for swimming, rock pools and shell collecting, the hotel might be a resort, but it’s quiet and personal with nothing else for miles

Mafube Mountain Retreat, Fouriesburg

Set in an amphitheatre of sandstone cliffs with views that extend forever, Mafube Mountain retreat lies on a farm in the highlands of the Free State. Your days will be filled with hiking, exploring, reading and sleeping – even the dishes are cleaned for you.


Stanford Lake Lodge
Stanford Lake Lodge in Haenertsburg in Mpumalanga

Stanford Lake Lodge, Haenertsburg, Limpopo

Picture-card perfect setting in the high country of Haenertsburg on the edge of a clearing that overlooks a lake, Stanford Lake Lodge’s double-storey log cabin is my idea of bliss. Langourous days spent fishing, bird watching, and book reading with strolls through indigenous forest is all you have to worry about.

Little Samadhi Karoo Retreat, Barrydale

Holiday for the soul. This little retreat and B&B lies on a hilltop overlooking the village of Barrydale in the midst of the Little Karoo. Tailor your retreat by adding yoga or simply stay here to recuperate and rejuvenate. Meals are organic and vegetarian (no TV here although WiFi is available).

Ossa Guest House, Lammergeier Nature Reserve, Ukhahlamba

A large, rambling farmhouse in a beautiful garden in the heart of the Lammergeier Nature Reserve in the far northern Drakensberg, close to Lady Grey this is a perfect big family escape, able to accommodate up to 12 people in six bedrooms, two bathrooms and a huge kitchen. Spend your days hiking, horse back riding, birding or simply relaxing.


The Beach House
The Beach House in Port Nolloth, Northern Cape

The Beach House, Port Nolloth, Northern Cape

It gets hot up here on the upper limits of the West Coast, with nothing around you to disturb the peace (the nearest town is Alexander Bay on the edge of Namibia) but it’s worth it for the solitude, untouched beach, 180 degree views,  and sunsets – perfect if you hanker after the beachside Christmas without the crowds.

ZenZulu Lodge, Mkuze, KwaZulu-Natal

A lodge set in a fever tree forest in the heart of the Zululand Rhino Reserve, Big Five country. The great part about staying here is that the camp is small and exclusive with only three en-suite double bedroom units, exclusively yours if your family is 8 people.

The Edge Mountain Retreat, Hogsback, Eastern Cape

Beautiful self-catering and non self-catering cottages and garden rooms set in a fifteen acre garden, literally on the edge of a cliff overlooking a deep gorge and indigenous forest, surrounded by mountains. There is a restaurant, a labyrinth and views to die for.


Noordhoek Paddocks
The Paddocks in Noordhoek, Cape Town

Bellwood, Nottingham Road, KwaZulu-Natal

Self-catering cottages on the edge of a dam on a 585 acre stud farm with impressive walks, wide-open spaces and a mere two-and-a-half kilometre ramble to the village of Nottingham Road, on the Midlands Meander. This is a tranquil retreat from it all.

Escape and Explore

Wanda Coustas


Wanda Coustas has written in one form or another for 10 years, seven of them as a copyblogger. She has travelled the Western Cape extensively and the rest of the country in protracted road trips that have given her both joy and an ongoing relish for experiencing what she writes about first-hand. She is a trained opera singer, poet, eurythmy dancer, philosopher, and bee whisperer.

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