Just in time for the holidays, we asked locals to share their favourite South African getaways and holiday destinations with us. From ever-popular destinations like Knysna and the Kruger National Park to lesser known gems like Barrydale, Beaverlac and Prince’s Grant, here are their favourites.
We hope they inspire you to travel locally this holiday season. Because … Local is totally Lekker!
(Copy Editor, Marie Claire SA). Jessica tells us her favourite getaway is Knysna…
“There are plenty of places but for a relaxing getaway I love going to Knysna. I love how relaxed, beautiful and easy it is. I love having nothing to do but go on runs, play tennis, lie in the sun and have late-afternoon fish braais. And it’s easy to drive through to Plett for a beach day”.
(Restaurant manager at Bistro Sixteen82). Jurgen tells us his favourite destination when he needs a break is to the lowveld, particulary near Kruger park. Why?
“Because of the wildlife, weather, just great to get away from city noise and luxuries”.
(Strategic Planner, Ogilvy Cape Town). Jayne loves Beaverlac in the Olifants River Mountains, Western Cape.
“The best the Western Cape mountains have to offer: exquisite setting, some of the best rock pools, great walks, the Olifants River at it’s most spectacular, and a campsite you can just arrive at”.
(Financial assistant at South Africa Bunkering and trading). Hayley also favours the delightful town of Knysna in the Garden Route …
“It is such a beautiful place with so many adventurous activities to go on. From running in the forest, bridge jumping to eating fresh seafood. There are many backpackers scattered around the area so booking accommodation is not a mission. The sights, smells and beauty would leave any person rested and smiling”.
(Change Management Consultant, Change Logic). It’s the Cape West Coast for Justine…
“The West Coast is still relatively untouched in comparison to other coastal tourist destinations in South Africa.The quaint fishing villages and long white beaches are perfect for a proper break from the city, even if only for a weekend”.
Mamello “Mum-z” Mokoena
(Comedian and Social Entrepreneur). Mamello’s destination of choice is Prince’s Grant on the Dolphin Coast of KwaZulu Natal.
Mamello loves the warm water, tropical aesthetics, Golf, lagoon and perfect secluded beach at Prince’s Grant.
(Marketing Manager, The Last Word). Steve didn’t think long about his answer to our question about his favourite getaway. He knows exactly where he wants to be …
(Travel Blog Editor, The Portfolio Collection). Joyanne favours getting away to the The Klein Karoo – Montagu, Barrydale and surrounds.
“I love the barren Karoo landscape. I love the aloes that bloom on the koppies at certain times of year and look like orange flames licking the blue sky. I love the weird little bars and restaurants along Route 62 such as Ronnie’s Sex Shop & Roadkill Cafe, Karoo Saloon and The Jam Tarts.I love the hot spring mineral baths at Warmwaterberg and most of all I love how beautiful the night sky is out there with our Milky way spilling across the darkness and a hundred shooting stars … if you look long enough”.
(Web Developer, Mammoth Solutions). Claire’s favourite local getaway destination is Wilderness in the Garden Route.
“Every time I have stayed there, I feel secluded and FAR away from the city and work! It’s a stunning place and simply one of the best places to go to escape city life and enjoy mountains, sea, wildlife and what the Garden Route has to offer”.
(WOMAG and Mobelli). Kristen’s favourite getaway is Old Mac Daddy in Elgin.
“Not only is it memorable to me because it was my first weekend away with just my husband and I (since the birth of our son), but the venue is gorgeous, peaceful and fresh and the staff are so professional! I loved the attention to detail in their design and the juxtaposition of their concept. We enjoyed every moment and had so much fun! I would go there again for sure!
(Senior Manager, Accenture) Kelly’s favourite local getaway destination is Spier Wine Estate, Stellenbosch.
“In three words, Spier Wine Estate is PEACEFUL, EXQUISITE, LUXURY! My recent experience at Spier Wine Estate can be explained as a touch of heaven and pure bliss! The hotel is far enough away from the hustle-and-bustle of the tourists and day visitors to Spier to actually provide an extremely peaceful and serene environment. The rooms are luxurious in old-farm style. On arrival, our bed was covered in rose petals and we received a personal welcome card and complimentary bottle of Spier Pinotage and chocolates! The hotel staff were extremely friendly and always willing to cart us around in their golf-buggies from one spot to another. This is definitely my favourite place in South Africa at the moment and I highly recommend it to both tourists and locals!
(Senior Account Manager at I-Net Bridge) Klee shares her favourites with us …
“South Africa is rich with many hidden sparkles like Ceres, Katberg, Riebeeck Kasteel but for the last few years I keep returning to idyllic Hermanus for the summer. the whales, the beaches, the hike to the reservoir, the good boerie rolls and walks along the cliffs above the beach… it’s just one of my favourite places to relax. It also means fun in the sun with my boyfriend “summer lovin’ had me a blast” style!”
(Co-owner of Outdoor Video & Photographic). Naomi’s favourite destination is the African bushveld, especially the following game reserves: Londolozi, Madikwe, Welgevonden, Timbavati and Schotia Safaris.
“Quite simply, because nothing compares to the ‘soul vacation’ that this offers”!
(Executive Coach) Pratish’s preferred getaway destination is iSimangaliso Wetland Park (Greater St Lucia Wetlands Park, Kwazulu-Natal).
“Besides its lush natural beauty, this corner of South Africa has a calming, peaceful air about it. There is no shortage of activities ranging from hikes and hippo spotting to paddling in lakes and whale watching. It’s a perfect place to escape and really get in touch with yourself and with nature”.
(Uhuru Communications) Lara’s favourite local geaway destination is De Kelders.
“It’s quiet, it’s out of the way and it’s not as commercial as Hermanus”.
Gary Van Rooyen
(MD, New Balance South Africa). Gary’s favourite getaway destination is Cape St.Francis in the Eastern Cape.
“I’m an ocean person and Cape St.Francis and St.Francis Bay offer one every possible water activity imaginable, from surfing, kite-surfing to boating, fishing and diving. The contrast of the old fishing town and the new canal thatched-roofed homes is also so eye-opening as you experience the old and new worlds meeting. There is a beautiful village centre with great dining and shopping options. A true break from City life”.
(Campaign Director at HaveYouHeard – Word of Mouth Marketing Agency). Natalie shares her favourite destination …
“My favourite local getaway destination is Mantis and Moon in Umzumbe, KwaZuluNatal. If you live in KwaZulu Natal and need a weekend break – what better place to go then down the coast to Mantis and Moon in Umzumbe! Only a 35 minute drive and you’re there! Mantis and moon is a hostel with SO much character, you can sleep in the treetops in a treehouse or in a T-pee or dorm!The beach is a close 2 minute walk across some old-school train tracks and the evening is spent by the Mantis bar with friends, laughing and joking and playing drinking games… this always ends with a strip down and jump into the jacuzzi and pool! Mantis and Moon is a complete crazy weekend bonding away with friends!”.
(Product Manager, FNB SpeedPoint) Julian’s favourite destination is anywhere in South Africa with a good view, friends and a social atmosphere …
“I like spending time with good friends in a nice social atmosphere and view!”
(Owner of Beatnik Bazaar). Thaya loves getting away to the Transkei.
“It is wild and rural and hasn’t been developed. It is the land that time forgot – the people there live off the land and rely on subsistance living to survive. The coastline is breathtakingly beautiful and undisturbed by gauche imposing buildings. There is no pretension; the beaches are untouched and beautiful; the people are warm; the food is soulful; the air is fresh and the water is warm enough to swim in under the clear night sky and the yellow moon”.
(Digital Marketing Executive). Charlie’s favourite local getaway destination is to Beaverlac in the glorious Cederberg.
“Spending the day hiking and swimming in natural pools makes me happy …”.
(PR Consultant). Jeannine’s favourite getaway is Vermaaklikheid …
“It’s just 2 hours from Knysna and it’s absolutely quiet, private and peaceful. We stay at Oshoek River Farm, a gorgeous house right on the river and go walking, cycling, fishing, boating and cook long lazy meals. It’s fantastic family time. In summer we can swim and in winter we light a fire and play cards and board games and Charades because there’s no TV. And catch up on our reading!”
(Clifton Preparatory School). Nina loves the Drakensberg…
“My favourite local getaway destination is Cleopatra Farmhouse in the Drakensberg. Nina loves it there because of the beautiful surroundings, 5 star food, original décor and the impeccable service!”
(Travel Blogger). Muzi shares his favourite destination
“The Southern Drakensberg is my favourite because of the peace and tranquility, the farming community makes one appreciates mother nature. All 4×4 owners should drive through the Sani Pass in rainy conditions to experience the adventure first hand!”.
(Co-owner Oblivion Wine Bar & Restaurant). Iain says his favourite local getaway is to the Kruger National Park.
“Because its the “real Africa”. Very relaxing, no cell-phone reception (unless you want it) and seeing a rhino up close is South Africa’s version of Jurassic Park. All real, can’t be beaten …”
(Co-founder urban sprout). Wanda had difficulty deciding on a single favourite destination but after some deliberation she settled on McGregor as her all time favourite!
“Difficult to make a choice, but if I’m forced then McGregor’s Temenos would be very high on the list. – The atmosphere there is of immediate peace and tranquility, the retreat is geared for those who want to get away from fast-paced living, and the myriad little spaces in which to meditate and ‘be’ are so enormously pleasing.The heart immediately responds to the beautiful gardens, the sound of water, the cooing of doves and the eerie call of the resident peacocks. Plus, McGregor is a gorgeous town and easy to reach from Cape Town”.
(Human Interest Manager Saatchi & Saatchi). My favourite local getaway destination is the Tsitsikamma National Park.
“Quite simply because it is BEAUTIFUL! And you get the best of all worlds: mountain, ocean and everything else you need. It really is an amazing place.”
(M Fusion Danz,) Mo’s favourite local getaway destination is Kardouw Treetops in Citrusdal. Mo loves Karouw Treetops because …
“When I arrive there is no where else I’d like to be! It is small but idyllic. Along the riverside and in raised wooden cabins … It is gorgeous!”
(Owner, Miss K food Cafe) Kirsten’s favourite getaway destination in South Africa is St Francis Bay in the Eastern Cape.
“I love the white thatched holiday homes, the canals, boating fishing and booze cruises on the Kromme River …”
(Owner/Manager – Vortron Holdings Cape,). My favourite local getaway destination is Plettenberg Bay.
“The drive up the garden route is fabulous. Walks along the beach, early morning or at dusk, are incredibly relaxing and refreshing for the soul! Ever since I was a kid, our holidays consisted of a week here and there spent at Plett – treasured memories and wonderful moments shared with family and friends, throughout the years. Even though Plett has become busier and more developed, it still remains for me my favourite local holiday destination – the familiarity of everything giving it that ‘home away from home’ feel!”
(Desk Jockey, Allan Grey Life Ltd)
“My favourite local getaway destination is Plettenberg Bay. “The peninsular of Robberg generates a microclimate within Plettenberg Bay, leaving it locked in a sunny high pressure zone. Dark gloomy clouds can often be seen slipping along the wild side of Robberg, never to slide into the bay. Even when the clouds manage to block out the summer sunshine, Robberg beach is the last place the light touches. Plett has the greatest holiday weather of anywhere in South Africa, this is because it sits between the two butt cheeks of the low pressure systems that run down the South African coastlines. The system that runs down the South coast travels out to sea around Port Elizabeth and the fronts that move down the east coast from Cape Town go out to sea near Mossel Bay.
This leaves Plettenberg bay in an area of South Africa where the sun loves to shine and the wind hates to blow. Its water is cozy enough for swimmers to spend hours body surfing, surfing and paddling. Importantly it is cold enough to keep those shivering Natalians out of the water and watching from the beach. Robberg’s climbing sand dune deposits golden sand along the shore where visitors can walk for hours along the uninterrupted beaches, watching the families, swimmers and dogs enjoying their lives. Some would say that Plett gets too crowded, but I think it’s one of the positives. There is always a party to be had, and only novices cannot find a spacious patch of beach to enjoy the afternoon light alone. Its popularity gathers dispersed families year after year to rebuild their bonds, celebrate Easter and Christmas together and meet the newly entered members, whether they are girlfriends, wives or babies”.
(Media officer– Ministry for Education, Western Cape). Bronagh’s favourite destination is Franschhoek.
“If you are a food and wine aficionado, like me, then you will love Franschhoek. Known for its fine restaurants and café’s, this village caters to everyone’s food palate, and is home to some of SA’s, best award winning restaurants like the Tasting Room at Le Quartier Français, Mange Tout and Bread and Wine. When I visit Franschhoek a typical day would consist of a sunrise run or walk in the beautiful vineyards, followed by a morning breakfast or brunch out on the main street, watching the rest of the community and visitors walk by.
Franschhoek is a very artistic and historical town, with a rich history dating back to the 1680s when the French Huguenots first settled there, so there are a number of historical and cultural spots to visit, as well as, a great range of art shops and antiques and old book stores. However, a favourite of mine is to rent a couple of bicycles with friends and to ride through the vineyards, stopping at the various wine farms with a tasting here and there. There are various picnic spots to choose from with some incredible scenery. In winter the evenings are spent dining in front of a fire, and in summer, on the many patios or gardens the restaurants have on offer.
I highly recommend visiting Franschhoek during its annual Bastille Day Festival in July. Hundreds of people gather to take in the cuisine, wine and the floats that parade the streets, and if lucky, all under the beautiful snow-capped Franschhoek mountains. Another calendar highlight that I would not miss is the “”Magic of Bubbles” festival, which is their annual Champagne Festival held every December. But ultimately, Franschhoek is beautiful anytime of the year, and caters for all ages. Accommodation ranges from the quaint, to the ultra-modern – so there is something for everyone.
Thanks to everyone for taking part and sharing your favourites with us. So there you have it – Totally awesome places to travel to locally. What’s your favourite? Please share yours in the comment section below …