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Posted on: Wednesday, 4 September 2013

24 great ideas for the September long weekend

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Looming on the calendar as a sharp reminder that once again you’ve got caught without any plans, September’s long weekend is not only, er, long, it is also the start of the school holidays.

Here are a few great ideas on how to spend the five days that incorporate Heritage Day (a celebration of our culture and diversity), around the country.


16 Mile Beach, Yzerfontein
Photograph: 16 Mile Beach, Yzerfontein, Cape West Coast


Take the steam train between Simon’s Town and Cape Town
Take this vintage, wooden bodied steam train in a 5½ hour round trip that passes via the historic villages of Kalk Bay and St James and drinks in the scenic coastline of False Bay. (See more info here)

Visit the Bo-Kaap Museum (free during Heritage Week 23 – 29 Sept)
Set in the pretty Bo-Kaap with its cobbled streets and the constant cry of the muezzin to prayer, the Bo-Kaap museum showcases local Islamic culture and heritage.

Walk Yzerfontein’s 16 Mile Beach
The longest stretch of beach in the country is at Yzerfontein. See the whales, kitesurf, horse ride or simply drink in the views. (See more info)

Tour the Rooibos Heritage Route – the Cederberg and beyond
Head through the Bokkeveld and the Cederberg Mountains on a route that links Nieuwoudtville and Wupperthal via Moedverloor for authentic farms, rock art, medicinal plants and more. (See more info here)


Hartebeesport Dam Wall
Photograph: Hartebeesport Dam Wall, Magaliesberg


Visit the Cradle of Humankind
A dozen or so dolomite caves, formed in a shallow sea roughly 2.3 billion years ago, contain the fossilised remains of ancient animals, plants and hominids. (See more info here)

Abseil in the Magaliesberg
Drop from heights as high as 75 metres; choose from a number of locations that include the Wonder Cave. This is fun for anyone; no experience necessary. (See more info here)

Visit Pretoria’s Art Museum
Though closed on public holidays this art museum is worth a visit for its enviable collection of South African art and reference books. (See more info here)

Explore the Sci-Bono Discovery Centre, Newtown
Jo’burg’s new Science Centre is the largest in Africa, an edutainment destination for everyone – interactive activities in science, maths and technology – hands-on exhibits, stage shows etc. (See more info here)


Baobab Tree near Kruger National Park
Photograph: Baobab Tree near Kruger National Park


Take an elephant-back safari, Hazyview
Nothing quite like swaying on the back of an elephant through the African bush. (See more info here)

Hug the big baobab, Gravelotte
Look out for the makeshift sign indicating the larger than life tree on the road between Tzaneen and Gravelotte. (See more info here)

Bike the Magoebaskloof
Four trails wend their way through forest and open farm land, existing farm roads, paths and public country roads. (See more info here)

Tour the Pilanesberg National Park
The volcano that gave birth to a game reserve, Pilanesberg lies in a volcanic crater, one of only a few alkaline volcanic structures in the world. (See more info here)


Hiking in Mpumalanga

Photograph: Hiking in Mpumalanga, South Africa


Hike the escarpment, and other hikes: The Fanie Botha, the Hippo Trail (Blyde River Canyon), Kaapsehoop Escarpment Walk, the Num-Num Trail and the Loerie Trail, to name but a few. (See more info here)

Visit the Botanical Garden
Two rivers, an African rain fores, and over 650 indigenous tree species, ancient cycads and a garden dominated by Sour Lowveld bushveld – a beautiful space in which to get lost. (See more info here)

Take a tour of Barberton
Barberton rivals Pilgrim’s Rest for its history. Take a guided tour to learn about the gold rush, rock formations, treasure hunters and more. (See more info here)

Explore the ghosts of Kaapsehoop
The Kaapsehoop Ghost Tour explores murder, intrigue, mystery and Kruger millions in the small village where wild horses roam free. (See more info here)


Hiking in the Drakensberg
Photograph: Hiking in the Drakensberg, KwaZulu Natal


Whale watch in St Lucia
Up close and personal encounters in St Lucia with humpback, Bryde, minke, southern right, sperm whales and other marine mammals like whale shark and sea turtles. (See more info here)

Visit Ladysmith’s Soofie Mosque
Nowhere else in the country is there a mosque of quite these proportions and beauty. (See more info here)

Hike Giant’s Cup Trail
This 5-day, 59km hike runs along the foothills of the Drakensberg through the Cobham and Garden Castle reserves past rock pools, rivers, caves and waterfalls. (See more info here)

Drive Route 66
The Zululand Heritage Route links the towns of Gingindlovu, Eshowe, Melmoth, Ulundi, Nongoma and Pongola tracing the oldest trade route travelled by early transport riders, missionaries, soldiers, settlers and farmers. (See more info here)


Addo Elephant Park
Photograph: Visit the Addo Elephant Park in the Eastern Cape


Go on one of numerous hikes
The Eastern Cape and Garden Route are filled with hikes through unmissable scenery: Coastal hike to Hole in the Wall, Cultural Experience Hike (St Johns), Strandloper Trail (East London), Fourcade Trail (Storms River), Dolphin Trail (Tsitsikamma), Kalander Kloof Hiking Trail (Natures Valley). (See more info at Eastern Cape hiking trails and Garden Route hiking trails)

Experience Bulungula
This homestay experience in the heart of rural Mthatha allows you to totally immerse yourself in traditional Xhosa life, in an authentic traditional village (no rehearsed performances or fake celebrations). (See more info here)

Visit the Addo Elephant Park
Only an hour from Port Elizabeth this is one of the Eastern Cape’s flagships, a chance to see over 350 African elephants in the heart of dense valley bushveld. Worth every ounce of effort to get there. (See more info here)

Visit the Graaff Reinet Museum
Set in five historicffal buildings, Graaff Reinet’s cultural and natural heritage combines well with fossil and rock art collections, period furniture and contemporary history exhibitions. No free entrance, but they are busy beautifying the town Heritage week. (See more info here)


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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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