After a month of heavy topics ranging from nationalisation of mines in South Africa to the cabinet reshuffle that never was, Wonkie thought it would be great to cover a more fun topic – holidays in South Africa!
Today’s article is by guest author Tania, from SA-Venues.com who has kindly agreed to share her list of top off-the-beaten path travel destinations in South Africa.
1. Marakele National Park, Limpopo
When people think of South Africa they often think of the Kruger National Park, however, there are a few other game reserves that are as magnificent and special. One such place is the Marakele National Park in Limpopo. One goes to a national park to see animals in their natural habitat and there is no shortage of those here. This is a wonderful alternative to the Kruger National Park and you might just catch a glimpse of the elusive leopard.
2. The Swartberg Pass, Little Karoo
27km long and considered to be one of the finest passes in the world, be prepared for a zigzagging journey that will offer you the most glorious views. One way for you to access it is through the Knysna Forest and as my friend describes the journey you will be “spat out in Prince Albert”. Be prepared however, the road is untarred and you do need to be careful or your car might not be very forgiving.
3. Gariep Dam, Free State
Only 30 kilometres east of Colesberg this beautiful manmade lake is over 24 kilometres wide and 100 kilometres long. A multitude of popular water sports and boating activities take place here and it is an ideal stop over if you’re driving the journey from Cape Town to Johannesburg. I would suggest spending more than one night here as you will find more than your average share to keep you busy all day. Even if your idea of being busy is sitting with a box of tackle and your fishing rod, this is the spot to be…
4. Rosendal, Free State
Still in the Free State, Rosendal is fast becoming a popular stop over and attracts visitors with its rustic charm. It might not seem like much upon arrival but there are a number of special places that will capture your heart and have you coming back time and again to this little dorp. With a theatre, a few art galleries, restaurants and Die Ou Handelhuis, this little town is certainly making a name for itself and deserves a stop-over whether it be for lunch or for an overnight stay. You will be delighted by its charm!
5. Vanrhynsdorp, Western Cape
300km north of Cape Town on the N7 this is the perfect base to explore the Namaqualand flower region. If you’ve got a green thumb, then a visit to the Kokerboom nursery is a must as it has the largest variety of indigenous succulents in the country. Vanrhynsdorp is a delightful town to visit to get a little bit of history and plant knowledge and well worth a bit of your time.
6. Nature’s Valley, Garden Route
This small town is approximately 30 kilometres from the popular tourist destination of Plettenberg Bay. It is home to long stretches of white beach and is, I think, the most beautiful part of this coastline. This area is seemingly untouched – there are no shopping malls or the usual city conveniences so you will immerse yourself in nature and the gorgeous surroundings. After a few nights here you will learn something about yourself and begin to appreciate life with a new spring in your step.
7. Amatola Hiking Trail, Eastern Cape
If hiking is your thing, then the Amatola hiking trail is without a doubt something you should put on your to do list. The trail begins close to King Williams Town and takes you all the way to one of my favourite places, Hogsback. This is a six day hike and just over 100 kilometres, but with a stunning forest and plenty of waterfalls and mountain pools you will enjoy yourself tremendously. I’d recommend staying a few nights in the town of Hogsback at the end of your journey.
8. Velddrif, Western Cape
I am a huge fan of the smaller towns on the West Coast that are not as well known, but are easily as lovely as the more popular ones. Velddrif, which is just a bit further than Langebaan is very small and you may just drive right through it if you blink! There is a laid back atmosphere that is synonymous with holiday towns making this an ideal breakaway from the city. If you are on the West Coast, you are sure to find a place that resonates with your heart and that will become a firm favourite holiday destination.
There is something to be discovered and enjoyed around each corner in South Africa and you should explore every part of it. Don’t put it off until tomorrow or next year – the time to appreciate our country is now!
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