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Posted on: Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Things to do this holiday – the ‘I’m getting desperate’ list

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Things to do ...

Things to do …

I doubt that any of you really need this article. Who actually has to find things to do in the holiday in South Africa? I have a list of ‘to do’s’ that easily competes with the average corporation’s annual agenda, nevermind adding further activities to the schedule.

But then I’m not being assailed by a never-ending list of relatives or friends this Christmas, even if my mother-in-law is coming to visit. Nonetheless, wonderful mother-in-law or not, there are days when consulting a list of possibilities comes in very handy, whether it’s for entertaining friends or grandmothers, or keeping children away from television sets …

Things to rev up the level of excitement

  • Take the plunge and do a bungi jump – off Table Mountain, Bloukrans Bridge in the Tsitsikamma, Gouritz River Bridge, Kings Kloof Bridge in Krugersdorp, Orlando Towers in Soweto, or the Big Swing in Graskop
  • Get on your bikes and head for the hills – mountain biking is a wonderful way to feel good about yourself and the world
  • Learn how to sandboard, surf or kitesurf
  • Head to the beach – with so many beautiful coastlines and beaches to choose from around South Africa, you can’t go wrong
  • Go for a hike or a walk (a real one that actually raises your blood pressure)
  • Go white shark cage diving
Things to do ...

Things to do …

Things to relax

  • Take to the garden and plant a few herbs in a pot. This could also double as preparing gifts for relatives and friends. I often plant lavender and rosemary cuttings into smaller pots (very therapeutic)
  • Visit a labyrinth: Cape Town at St George’s Cathedral, Slangkop lighthouse, Tamboerskloof (29 Belle Ombre Road), Kalk Bay (304 Main Road) and Noordhoek (249 Rooi Els, De Goede Hoop Estate), in Stellenbosch (2 Anreith St) and Jan Marais Nature Reserve, Robertson (Soekershof), Hogsback at The Edge, in Ashburton (4 Sunset Ave), Pretoria (452 Monica St, Lynnwood), Port Elizabeth (67 Courcelles Road, Kamma Park), Oudtshoorn (Caves Road),  Johannesburg (34 Border Rd, Lanseria), and Mpumalanga (Boondocks Mountain Lodge)
  • Walk with elephantsAddo Elephant Park, the Elephant Sactuary in Plettenberg Bay, Elephant Sanctuary, Hartbeespoort, Camp Jabulani in Hoedspruit
  • Visit a botanical garden, a garden or a nature reserve
  • Walk barefoot on the beach
  • Switch off your cellphone, watch no television for a week, and read as many books as you can manage
  • String a hammock from your pergola and lie in it for hours
  • Sip sundowners somewhere with a view
  • Go on a retreat
  • Go snorkeling with seals
Things to do ...

Things to do …

Things to improve your culture

  • Go wine tasting on one of many wine routes in South Africa – with 18 official wine routes and 2 brandy routes, 99% of them in the wine capital of the Western Cape, to choose from, you have much to choose from
  • Go trawling antique shops and second-hand book shops for wonderful gift ideas
  • Go to the theatre
  • Visit a museum
  • Take to the kitchen with your relatives and friends, and produce a home-cooked meal that includes everyone
  • Get everyone to decide on a town they have yet to visit near you and drive there to spend the day exploring
  • Try to write Christmas cards that don’t include the words ‘merry Christmas’, ‘compliments of the season’, or ‘good cheer’
  • Share dinner with friends and get everyone to bring something of culture to share – an exceptional bottle of wine, a book worth talking about, a poem worth reading…
  • Invite everyone you know to join you for Christmas carols, and remember the joy of giving and receiving

Things to escape the madding crowds

  • Go on a picnic somewhere that is really difficult to get to – chances are, no-one else will have bothered
  • Climb up a mountain that the average person wouldn’t attempt
  • Head away from the coast (everyone visits Cape Town or Durban over Christmas)
  • Hire a combi or volksie and tour the Karoo
  • Do all of your shopping across the Internet or get it done long before Christmas

Things to do with kids

  • write to Santa – this is a good way to get your children to decide on things they would like for Christmas (and for you to give them a nudge in the right direction)
  • make Christmas decorations – paint leaves and pinecones and string them on the tree, string boiled sweets and paper to make your own tinsel, wrap a few nuts or chocolates in material and string from the branches
  • make Christmas crackers – use old toilet roll inners, fill them with fun things and then wrap
  • Head to the beach for a picnic and time in the sand
  • Go and watch the local pantomime at least once
  • If you live on the coast, try and spot whales or dolphins
  • Hire bicycles, if you don’t have any, and go for a ride
  • Eat fish and chips on the beach
  • Visit a local market – there are always activities for kids, horse riding or jungle gyms
  • Go quad biking
  • Do sleepovers, at other people’s houses, not yours
  • Visit the local aquarium – cool, and calm (and on hot days, not too busy)

Things to avoid (these are the pitfalls)

  • The beaches in Durban and Cape Town on Christmas Day and New Year
  • Any shopping malls for the two weeks leading up to Christmas (this entails much juggling on your part in the food department)
  • Leaving buying your gifts for 2 days before Christmas (this is seriously stupid!)
  • Hosting Christmas lunch at yours (always accept anyone else’s invitation)
  • Any office parties

Have a Happy Christmas!

Useful Links for Holidays in South Africa
South Africa Attractions
Things to Do in South Africa
South Africa Accommodation

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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