After the great unlocking SA is back on the losing end of travel bans, meaning we put our passports back on the shelf and look once more to all that Mzansi has to offer. The good news? There’s plenty of it. From new attractions to old favourites and country quirks, add these 10 SA classics to your summer travel plans.
On yer bike
The Sky Villa Boutique Hotel outside Plettenberg Bay is famed for its remarkable location and ocean views, and the owners recently put this hilltop locale to good use with the opening of a custom-built mountain-bikes trails network on a 500ha property below the hotel. The estate offers an array of trails, designed and built to accommodate all levels of rider. While hotel guests will have seamless access to the trails, day-visitors are also welcome. Permit fees apply.
Explore beyond Cape Town aboard a vintage steam train. On this full-day adventure restored steam locomotives pull historic carriages out through the wine lands, up and over Sir Lowry’s Pass along one of SA’s steepest railway lines. You’ll rumble past vineyards and through pristine mountain fynbos before screeching to a halt at the Elgin Railway Market. Set within in an old apple warehouse; expect steampunk style, craft cider and tasty takeaways to enjoy on the trip back to the city.
Kayak Cape Town
Enjoy a new perspective on the Mother City by taking to the seas. Choose between a kayak adventure on the Atlantic seaboard, for marvellous views of the mountain, or paddle out of Simon’s Town harbour and on to Boulders Beach to meet the resident African penguins at sea.
There’s a new reason to add Grootvadersbosch Nature Reserve to your Overberg road trip, with the summer opening of a brand-new glamping offering. The five new glamping sites are named for indigenous trees found in the lush forests nearby, and each can accommodate four guests in two configurable canvas bedrooms. Guests share a fitted kitchenette, and each site has private ablution facilities. Fill your days with wanders through the remarkable forests nearby, explore further afield on fynbos-clad hills, or take a dip in the tannin-stained waters of the Duiwenhoks River.
Sip the Garden Route
It’s not only Tsitsikamma that’s making waves in the world of Garden Route wine.
Beyond the village of Herbertsdale, 30-minutes’ drive from Mossel Bay, Jakkalsvlei Private Cellar is turning out a portfolio of fine wines from both estate grapes and nearby vineyards. Beyond the wine, the on-site restaurant — that spills outdoors in summer — delivers hearty country cooking and live music on the lawns.
Make (tidal) waves in KZN
Give the hotel pool a skip and enjoy the salty kiss of KwaZulu-Natal’s wonderful tidal pools. Start at Salt Rock on the Dolphin Coast. Though this expansive pool was first built in the 1950s exclusively for guests staying at the hotel, today it’s open for the public to enjoy. Families will also be happy at the Ballito tidal pool, with a shallow section for young swimmers, or head south to Margate and the Walpole Bay Tidal Pool, one of the largest along the south coast.
Go wild in the Waterberg
With international visitors in short supply, luxury safari lodges are (once again) offering incredible deals to SA travellers. Just a few hours north of Gauteng, the Waterberg delivers an unforgettable malaria-free safari destination. Tintswalo Lapalala is offering up to 50% off for SA travellers during the festive season, making these luxury tented suites — all with private plunge pools — the two-bedroom family suites more accessible than ever.
P is for Padkos
Road-tripping works up an appetite, and whether you’re heading to the coast or inland on the N1, the Karoo Padstal is well worth a stop. Set about 20km outside Richmond, this charming bakery, boutique and eatery offers a cornucopia of Karoo flavours and crafts, from unforgettable lamb pies to handmade soaps.
Further down the N1, the Victorian village of Matjiesfontein offers yesteryear grandeur in the Lord Milner Hotel, while the surrounding estate is filled with all sorts of Karoo quirks. Don’t miss a dip in the “coldest swimming pool in Africa”, or a history tour aboard an original double-decker London bus led by local raconteur “Johnny” Theunissen.
There’s plenty to keep you entertained in the Kruger National Park, from lazy days cruising the roads in search of game, to a room and a dip at the remarkable new(ish) Kruger Shalati Hotel. And if you find yourself in Skukuza, it’s worth a stop at the revamped Kruger Station precinct. Here the with wraparound screen of the Kruger 360 Cinema offers an immersive multimedia experience; ideal for giving young safari-goers a break from the car.