20 March 2019
Lovers of the outdoors know that there’s no greater luxury than a beautiful natural setting and a way to enjoy it. Fortunately, South Africa abounds in such necessities. These local getaways won’t strain your budget, but they don’t skimp on the important things: abundant access to magnificent landscapes and plenty of exciting outdoor activities.
Getaways close to Cape Town
1. Simonskloof Mountain Retreat, Nuy Valley
Deep in the Langeberg – but only a 2,5 hour drive from Cape Town – life begins at the end of a dusty farm road in this peaceful and remote valley. At Simonskloof you can rest and recharge your batteries while allowing those on your devices to quietly die. Because there’s no electricity, no cellphone signal and no WiFi here! Three down-to-earth self-catering cottages are equipped with gas for hot water and cooking, solar lamps for lighting and beautiful spots to braai. To keep you busy, there’s a network of hiking trails to explore, 40km of mountain bike routes, and natural rock pools to cool off in.
2. Waylands Guest House, Darling
Just 40 minutes from Cape Town, 20 minutes from the coast at Yzerfontein, and 5 minutes from the quaint town of Darling, is Waylands Guest Farm. This working farm has an 85-hectare wildflower reserve and herds of curious Nguni cattle. The old homestead is now a guest house with six bedrooms and two lounges. It’s furnished with gorgeous antiques and overlooks a rambling garden with a fenced swimming pool. There’s also a separate suite with a self-catering option. The farm offers walking and cycling and is a great base for excursions to the West Coast National Park, or for touring the local wine cellars.
Getaways close to Joburg and Pretoria
3. Manyane Resort, Pilanesberg
Although Pilanesberg National Park is much smaller than the Kruger, it offers the chance to see not just the big five, but also rarer wildlife such as wild dogs, cheetahs, and, if you are very lucky, brown hyena. Less than 2 hours from Johannesburg, Manyane Resort is just inside the park. But, unlike most safari camps, it caters to a wide variety of budgets. There are comfortable chalets and safari tents, a large, shady campsite with power points, as well as a swimming pool, restaurant and a small shop.
4. Lindani, Waterberg
This 3,000 hectare private game farm in the Waterberg is a paradise for mountain bikers. The mountain bushveld is stocked with plains game such as warthogs, zebras and giraffe and offers the chance to ride amongst them in complete isolation. The well-designed mountain biking trails are suitable for both novices and more experienced riders. Lindani is less than 3 hours from Pretoria and accommodation options include family cottages, an eight-bed tented forest camp, and an 18-sleeper lodge. If you’re not a mountain biker, you can enjoy the easy hiking trails, or pack a picnic and go for a swim in the river.
Getaways close to Durban
5. Mtentu Lodge, Wild Coast
Getting to Mtentu can be an adventure in itself – but the location is definitely worth it. About 4 hours from Durban, this little piece of Pondoland is a perfect subtropical paradise. Owned in partnership with the local Amadiba community, Mtentu Lodge has rustic but comfortable 4-bed cabins, a restaurant and a bar. Camping is also available, but there are no designated sites – you just pitch up and pick a spot. While you’re there, you can canoe up the turtle-filled estuary to the waterfalls, go horse-riding along the beach, take a spectacular hike, and fish or swim in the ocean.
6. Amphitheatre Backpackers, Drakensberg
Midway between Durban and Johannesburg, this lodge is an excellent base to explore one of the most famous parts of the Northern Drakensberg. Amphitheatre Backpackers looks directly out over the impressive cliff face that it’s named after and is within easy reach of epic hikes such as Cathedral Peak and the Tugela Falls. Other activities on offer here include rock climbing, abseiling, visiting historical battlefields and day trips into Lesotho. Accommodation options range from en-suite chalets and safari tents to camping.
Getaways close to Port Elizabeth
7. Woodlands Cottages, Kenton-on-Sea
About an hour and a half from Port Elizabeth, the small seaside resort of Kenton-on-Sea is synonymous with golden beaches and warm waters. Woodlands Cottages are just outside the town, high on the banks of the Bushman’s River. Their specialty is birding, with a wide variety of species spotted daily on the property. The lush indigenous bush garden stretches down to the river, and activities include canoeing, fishing, boating, sand boarding and horse riding.
8. Cannon Rocks Holiday Resort
About 20km from Kenton-on-Sea, the quiet village of Cannon Rocks offers unspoiled beaches, superb fishing, safe swimming, and excellent kite-surfing and windsurfing. It’s also close to the Alexandria section of Addo Elephant National Park. Accommodation at Cannon Rocks Holiday Resort is in self-catering flats and chalets for two to 10 people. There are also 76 wind-protected camping and caravan sites, with plenty of trees.