Given that the weather here has turned from rather a pleasant, balmy autumn into a wet and cold winter, we are feeling that familiar urge to make a run for it! And top of our wish list right now is South Africa.
South Africa burgeons with a wealth of reasons to visit and it has been incredibly difficult to narrow them down to just ten. But we can’t go on forever, so here are our top 10 reasons for making the journey to this magnificent country.
1. The Winelands. One thing for sure is that South Africa is renown for its wine making and it just so happens that this beloved beverage is also created in some of the most spectacular scenery one can imagine. So be prepared to sup on nature’s cornucopia of beauty in the Winelands. Stay in La Clé des Montagnes for elegant decadence, with just four private villas, all with their own pool, open fires and stunning views of the wineries surrounding the hotel - you will feel at home and yet truly spoilt.
2. Hermanus for Whale watching. This town offers possibly the best land-based whale watching in the world. From the dramatic cliff top walks you can clearly watch whales breaching and playing, the town even has a Whale Crier to inform the town and visitors when the whales are nearby (or if you’re lucky – when they have come in to the old harbor to calve). Catch them mid winter before the southern right whales head back to their icy climes of Antarctica.
3. The weather! As we gaze out the window to rain, leaves swirling off the trees and grey clouds in the sky it’s easy to long for endless sun and heat. South Africa will offer glorious sunshine and little precipitation, beckoning locals and visitors alike outside to enjoy the weather, although take a warmer jumper for the evenings, because once the sun goes down it becomes clear that it was the sun doing the work creating the heat! Enjoy the fabulous weather from Capetown’s V&A Waterfront staying at Cape Grace – the sumptuous hotel with amazing views and a gorgeous pool to cool off in.
4. ‘Braai’ on the beach with a turkey. If you manage to make it to South Africa for Christmas, be ready for the local tradition of a turkey on the ‘braai’ (South African BBQ). And why not? A braai gets everyone outside, to enjoy the great views all over this exceptional country and to spend time together as family and friends. Finish off Christmas day with an afternoon on the beach; surfing, swimming and making ‘snow’ angels in the sand!
5. Safari (its a great time of year for spotting the animals). Visiting the national parks between November and February mean that the vegetation is much sparser as the temperatures have risen, which means you don’t get that lush scenery that you might imagine, however it does mean that spotting the elusive animals is much more likely; since the lack of leaves mean you can see further. It also means that the waterholes are a haven for all species who are looking for water and hydration from plants growing around them. As long as you don’t mind the weather being slightly hotter for you and your family, you will reap the benefits of going at this time of year. In Kruger National Park Chitwa Chitwa boasts 6 exceptional suites, with private plunge pools, fine dining, views of the park. It offers safaris and a whole host of other activities creating endless opportunities for groups, families, couples and solo adventurers, all alike.
6. Table Mountain. This iconic mountain majestically rises above Capetown cityscape, seemingly watching over the people as a guardian force. As a visitor you can choose to take the 5 minute cable car to the summit or hike the 3km route to the top. However, even though the route sounds short, it is a “moderate to tough” climb, so allow plenty of time, take lots of water and read the weather reports to check it’s safe to ascend or descend once you’re actually there (the weather can change rapidly). Our top tip is to still go to the top via cable car, even if the warnings say the views will be clouded over- it is so changeable that the clouds could part and you get that splendid view you were hoping for. Stay at Villa North, a stunning villa on Signal Hill, which offers breathtaking views of the city and beaches, with its private pool, and terrace with BBQ grill and of course easy access to Table Mountain.
7. Durban is a great seaside resort. This east coast city offers the perfect beach scene and many attractions within, and often gets overlooked under Capetown’s shadow. But it has a buzzing ‘downtown’ with elaborate colonial buildings and fascinating art deco architecture, all pulsing to this South African city’s rhythm. Hire segways to whizz down the Golden Mile of beachfront (seeing the city from a different angle entirely) or create a sense of awe at one of the largest aquariums in the world uShaka Marine World.
8. The Glorious Garden Route. Hire a car and set off on one of the most epic road trips of a lifetime, following the southern-east coastline of South Africa, driving through the verdant and ecologically diverse vegetation of this protected corner of the country. Passing through lakes, lagoons, rivers, National Parks and coastal views; allow plenty of time for this trip as you will need to stop often to truly embrace the scenery and moment. There are a fantastic variety of beautiful hotels to stay in as you drive; try Grootbus for its enviable location between the roaring ocean and the marvelous mountains, or for a tree house feel book in to Tsala at Plettenberg Bay, deep in the indigenous forest.
9. South Africa is great for kids. South Africa is renowned for its family friendly reputation, with such a plethora of activities and experiences you will be hard pushed to complain that your children are bored- no more phone screens needed! This is a country full of opportunities to explore and discover, offering the kind of activities that will remain with you and your family forever; giving children a sense of awe at its beauty, expanding imaginations and fuelling a sense of adventure. With so many of the hotels and villas labeled as ‘children friendly’ and such a welcoming national feeling of hospitality towards visitors, you will enjoy a fantastic family experience all over this amazing country.
10. The food! From Billtong to Braais, the freshest fish to succulent tropical fruit, South Africa is a gourmand’s paradise. Wander through towns and try little shacks with incredible food, or head for the fine dining experiences in establishments such as The Test Kitchen (which has won an abundance of impressive awards) or The Roundhouse, which offers contemporary dishes that combine European cuisine with a distinctly South African character. Or head to Capetown’s beautiful Twelve Apostles hotel and sample chef Christo Pretorius’s innovative style of cooking, using ingredients that are 95% sourced from the Western Cape.
If we’ve managed to convince you that South Africa is the place to escape winter’s dropping temperatures, then please give us a call on 01993 899 430 or contact us here for more