Whatever reservations you may have about cosmetic surgery, South Africa serves as a perfect destination for those intent on a nip or tuck. The country offers top quality cosmetic surgery, the Rand/Dollar/Euro exchange makes the option rather attractive, and the country has so many scenic spots in which to recuperate that you can visit for a month and return home looking several decades ‘younger’ with ease.
It’s been termed medical tourism. Packages to South Africa include the job and recovery time spent on safari, or in a spa on the coast.
For those who want to remain well hidden here are ten remote, yet beautiful, spots around the country. Each of them is close enough to civilisation to buy your groceries from a neighbouring town, but far enough from crowds to remain incognito. By next month, nobody will remember your being here.
1: NATURE’S VALLEY, THE GARDEN ROUTE
Lying at the mouth of the Groot River not far from Knysna, this little village on the Garden Route rests with the Indian Ocean on one flank, the foothills of the Tsitsikamma Mountains on the other, and the Tsitsikamma National Park right next door. More beauty in one area you’ll be hardpressed to find. Out of season it even makes ‘remote’ thanks to the conservation trust that protects the area.
2: DWARSKERSBOS, WEST COAST
Dwarskersbos lies midway along the remote West Coast, a small town with endless, windswept beaches guaranteeing complete privacy. Lying just past Velddrif, where you can pick up supplies as Dwarskersbos has little more than a couple of corner cafés, you can look forward to peaceful, undisturbed days of seal and dolphin spotting, reading and beachcombing.
3: KOUE BOKKEVELD, CEDERBERG
The Koue Bokkeveld lies up on a ridge just north of the town of Prince Alfred Hamlet, south of Citrusdal. Filled with complex sandstone mountains and mountain fynbos, it gets snow in winter. Summers are hot and scented with wild grasses. There are numerous fruit farms in amongst the passes and shrubland that host visitors in this beautiful and forgotten part of the country.
4: VERMAAKLIKHEID, OVERBERG
Little more than a hamlet of holiday cottages and homes, Vermaaklikheid rests on the banks of the Duivenshok River – one of the only remaining pristine estuaries in the country and part of a conservancy (i.e. no speed boats). Perfect for restoring the body and the soul, this is riverside living at its best. Look forward to boating, fishing, swimming, hiking, bird watching and day trips along the Garden Route.
5: NIEU BETHESDA, KAROO
This little village at the foot of the Compassberg, some 50 km from Graaff Reinet, is the home of a group of artists, crafters and creatives who live on the sand streets without street lights, stone water furrows still in evidence. For nature lovers and those who want to get away from it all, the little galleries, potteries, famous Owl House and coffee shops are a balm for the soul.
6: FOURIESBURG, FREE STATE
Think wide open plains, sandstone mountains and a definite ‘stay here for the weekend and get to unwind and chill’ feeling. Fouriesburg lies in the foothills of the Maluti Mountains up the road from a border post with Lesotho (just beyond Jenlee’s Country Shop). Not far from the very popular town of Clarens, Fouriesburg is a also a haven for artists but attracts those after a less inundated small town life than Clarens. This is a serious chill out destination.
7: NOTTINGHAM ROAD, NATAL MIDLANDS
An historical village on the Midlands Meander just 20 minutes from the foothills of the Drakensberg and an hour from the ‘berg proper. The village is surrounded by dairy farmers and imbued in rural life; a favourite stop for many. You’ll be completely catered for as there is a local supermarket, pharmacy, health shop and a list of things to do – hiking, flyfishing, drinking locally brewed ale, birding and scenic views.
8: ST LUCIA, KWAZULU-NATAL
Surrounded both by the St Lucia river estuary and the iSimangaliso Wetland Park, St Lucia is in the heart of an unspoilt natural heritage. A swamp forest, mangroves, lakes, a feast of animals that include the Big 5, sea turtles and humpback whales translates into hiking, fishing, deep sea diving, game viewing or boating, when you are not resting.
9: HAENERTSBURG, LIMPOPO
A rural hamlet in the Magoebaskloof mountains where mist and rain are high on the agenda, resulting in indigenous forests, rolling grasslands and scenery that will have you gasping. Haenertsburg’s main road is a collection of antique, arts and crafts and book shops interspersed with pubs and restaurants. Think forest rambles and hours of solitary reading.
10: BARBERTON, MPUMALANGA
Named after a famous daisy, this little town lies in De Kaap Valley surrounded by the Makhonjwa mountains, studied for their ancient rocks. Classified as one of few remaining unspoilt areas with the least human intervention of anywhere in the country, it easily serves as a retreat. Town is small enough to explore by foot (do the Heritage Walk), tea at the Victorian Garden in Market Square will bolster you, whilst a 70 km drive will bring you to the Kruger National Park.