Escape Christmas – 10 places far from the madding crowds
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 Hotel in Haga Haga on the Wild Coast, Eastern Cape
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.
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
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 in Haenertsburg in Mpumalanga
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.
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 in 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.
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.
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.
The Paddocks in Noordhoek, Cape Town
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.