Being back at work with only 8-days to reboot and recharge has me planning my real vacation to a tee. As tired as I am and in need of a break, it comforts me to know that the sun, sand and sea of South Africa are all waiting for me. The best part is that it’s still summer here in South Africa, meaning longer days and shorter, warmer nights.
To boost travelling during this time, the Department of Travel and Tourism launched their Gimme Summer That campaign last year for everyone to experience our beautiful country during this sunny season. As a people, we have survived the most; it is the first season with no COVID-19 restrictions. This means you are free to take a Sho’t Left and explore as and when you please.
Travel and tourism on the rise
Minister of Tourism of South Africa, Honourable Lindiwe Sisulu, celebrated the industry’s success despite its challenges. Local travel alone between January and September 2022 saw 23.9 million trips alone. “It is a leaping 150% increase over that which we had in 2021. It was driven by holiday trips having accounted for 43% of our total expenditure, domestic day trips – which accounted for 169% – and an increase of R131m,” Minister Lindiwe Sisulu said as she recollected the numbers that don’t lie and show that the industry is on an upward trajectory. Minister Lindiwe Sisulu also highlighted that, according to the index, South Africa’s top contributors to the industry were:
- Wildlife viewing in the parks
“Our message has always been clear, It is clear today. South Africa offers [a] memorable, affordable, accessible, travel free experience,” Minister Lindiwe Sisulu further added, “We want every visitor to be mesmerised by our hospitality. South Africans are by nature a very friendly people.”
Travelling in your backyard is a great way to reconnect with yourself, get inspired and enrich your country. Enjoy the freedom of travelling in your own country while uplifting the African continent as we continue to partner with fellow countries.” Minister Lindiwe Sisulu wrapped up the festivities by saying, “As a government, we truly value everybody’s contribution. Everyone who contributed for us to get here.” She also reassured us that they are still working towards Visa-free borders.
Gimme Summer That South Africa!
With Mzansi being the 25th largest country in the world and 9th in Africa, it can be pretty overwhelming to decide where to go for a much-needed holiday that will give you everything and more in just a short space of time on a budget and even a young splurge if you can. To help us choose, I have listed the places that would be great to visit for exploration, leisure and relaxation.
Having been to Graskop in Mpumalanga not too long ago, I know it is one of the best places to ease your mind. Boasting the Panorama Route, it has no shortage of breathtaking views and landmarks for you to visit. If anything, you’ll have to make the time and prioritise to see everything or what you want.
A mate of mine once went to Bambuu Lakeside Lodge in Hazyview, and I must say it looks absolutely lush! Should you choose to stay here for your vaycay, you can expect a serene setting from your lakeside balcony with a direct view of the forest.
Waking up on a queen size bed, on a lake, to a rain shower and a breakfast buffet that will lead to a safari? Sounds like a solid plan to me.
The only South African province that neighbours Botswana, Zimbabwe, and Moçambique, Limpopo boasts some of the best weather for a summer vacation. With it being the hottest place in South Africa, temperatures can soar (on average) up to 35 degrees Celsius. Needless to say, air conditioning is going to be a prerequisite right off the bat.
Comfortable, spectacular and has trustee aircons, is Thulani Game Lodge And Eco Estate. Their Luxury Stilted Tents are a piece of paradise floating on pillars with a panoramic view of the bushveld. Wow! Now waking up to that view is enough reason to book my room right now!
Enjoy stargazing at night and a variety of activities during the day, such as:
- A picnic in the bush
- Mountain biking
- Mini putting
- Game drives
- Bird viewing
A real treat for animal lovers and the whole family, Thulani Game Lodge And Eco Estate should make it on everyone’s bucket list.
The beauty that lies in the land of the Zulu Kingdom is paramount the world over. Having everything for nature lovers to historians, KwaZulu-Natal has it all for you.
Wanting to stay a bit more inland on this one, I am immediately attracted to the Barrier of Spears. Better known as uKhahlamba by the local community, it is the highest peak of the Drakensberg mountain range. Its luscious foothills and high mountain peaks offer views that will leave you gasping in awe of its beauty. This might be literal because of the altitude as well.
The Three Tree Hill Lodge is a beautiful luxury lodge at the foot of the Drakensberg Mountain Range and has a really warm homely feel. Offering history, nature and culture, you can expect to leave with more knowledge, cultured and refreshed.
Another place that caught my attention was Bushman’s Nek Berg and Trout Resort, situated at the Southern Drakensberg’s foothill. These are also ideal for the whole family as they have rooms that cater for up to 8 people.
To reconnect and strengthen one’s roots, the Wild Coast is one of the ideal places. Coffee Bay is the perfect location for surfers, anglers and beach bums alike. Boasting only 8 km between the village of Coffee Bay and the world-famous coastline landmark Hole in the Wall.
A natural environment with miles of coastline for long walks, horse rides, swimming, and hiking trails that lead you up cliffs that you can bravely take a dive from into the ocean. Coffee Bay is definitely for the chilled adventurer. Coupled with countryside restaurants and bars to try out – it’s a true gem.
Yellowwood Forest in Morgans Bay is easy on the pocket and aesthetically pleasing. Packed with character, there is an onsite restaurant that serves traditional Xhosa food and umqombothi. Visiting the vast array of cultural villages will be a great way to immerse yourself in the local traditions.
A breath of fresh air or a gust of wind – the Western Cape will revive your soul. Stretching from Storms River in the Eastern Cape all the way to Mossel Bay in Western Cape, the Garden Route makes for an epic road trip.
With beaches that stretch for miles and are home to sky-blue water, Knysna is one of South Africa’s treasures. Famously known for its oysters and prolific forests, it sits on a protected marine reserve lagoon.
Being a place to relax, eat and explore, make it a point to stay at the luxury self-catering Cliffhanger Cottages. With a swimming beach only 15 minutes away and the forest at your doorstep, it would be tough not to enjoy the peace and tranquillity that would be naturally catered to you.
Adventure seekers need not feel left out, as there is an array of activities to plunge into! From skydiving to hydrofoiling, you will be guaranteed your daily dose of adventure.
Boarding Namibia and Botswana, the Northern Cape is a treasure hunter’s dream. It is home to some of the world’s best diamond mines, six national parks and South Africa’s very own desert – the Northern Cape is as unique as it is majestic.
Planted in the province of diamonds, the Namaqua Flower Beach Camp is a luxury campsite situated right on the banks of the beach. Enjoy clear skies that accentuate even the smallest of stars, fine dining prepared by a private chef, specially curated picnic baskets, and tea or coffee in the morning as you watch the sunrise.
Even if you are not big on camping, this glamping experience is something even a city girl would enjoy. Famous for its beautiful carpet of colourful wildflowers and succulents, you are in for a scenic treat. This year, the Namaqua Flower Beach Camp will open from 18 August 2023 to 17 September 2023. To avoid disappointment, be sure to book now.
The concrete financial jungle of Mzansi packs a mean social punch. Gauteng is synonymous with its rich historical culture, including being the only place in the world where two Nobel Peace prize winners lived on the same street.
Spoiled for choice, you can view the majestic Magaliesberg mountains, visit the Soweto Towers or the World Heritage Site, the Cradle of Humankind. Alternatively, escape within the buzz that encapsulates Johannesburg city and enjoy a stay at 54 on Bath.
Conveniently located in Rosebank, 54 on Bath is a boutique luxury hotel. Complete with all the amenities of home, you can expect nothing less than opulence. Spoil yourself in their sophisticated afternoon high tea at their award-winning Level Four restaurant. If you are in the mood for something with more kick or are in a celebratory mood, look no further than their Perrier-Jouët garden bar. Complete with the Perrier-Jouët champagne range, you can also look forward to local MCCs, wines and high-end spirits.
Picturesque Free State is charming from the second you lay eyes on it. Framed by its open farmlands and blue skies, its beauty is naturally appealing. A province built for the ultimate road tripper. Take that Sho’t Left and look forward to coming across one of our many small towns full of charm.
In the Free State, you can look forward to seeing the biggest and oldest meteorite impact called the Vredefort Dome, the tranquil Gariep Dam, the Basotho Cultural Village and the Golden Gate National Park. Honestly, the most magical experience I’ve ever had was on a road trip to Makhanda, also known as Grahamstown. Having taken that Sho’t Left I encourage you to take, we found ourselves on the most idealistic road, on a full moon with no other cars in sight. We pulled to the side, parked, and switched our lights off. Within less than five minutes, all sorts of animals came out on the road, and it was nothing short of a scene from a Disney movie.
Guys – do not sleep on the Free State!
Submerge yourself in the quirky qualities that make this province as unique as it is. This includes staying at The Bubble Valley – Africa’s first luxurious bubble suite. Enjoy beautiful views and stargazing from inside your Bubble room. While there, take it easy, spoil yourself with a massage in the garden or soak in a hot bubbly tub. Whatever it is, enjoy getting in your Bubble and rest assured that no one will pop it.
Right on the fringe of the Kalahari desert, Gauteng, Botswana and Free State, to the west, east, north and south, respectively, is the North West. Home to Potche and Rusty Dusty, the North West is most famous for its game reserves, national park and world-renowned resort – Sun City. The utopia for the ultimate African bush getaway.
Splurge at the fifth largest game reserve in South Africa – Madikwe Hills Private Game Lodge. It is located right in the middle of Madikwe Game Reserve and offers the best game viewing. A photographer’s dream, you can expect to go on breathtaking game drives, and bush walks with their seasoned rangers.
From their luxury suits, you can expect a view of a waterhole, a private plunge pool, an outside bath and shower with spectacular views and breathtaking 270° scenic views. They also have a villa that can accommodate the entire family with true grandeur.
It’s your country – enjoy it!
Never short of things to do, The North West is a great place for trying new things. Always wanted to get on a hot air balloon? Go horse riding? Try river rafting and abseiling? Zip Lining? Let your adventure spirit fly free! While there, check out the Motseng Cultural Village and Lesedi Cultural Village to further enrich your soul.
The country with 11 official languages, 9 provinces, over 200 cities and an obscene amount of small towns. To say we are spoiled for choice does not do our country justice. Take a Sho’t Left and explore your home. It’s about connecting with your roots, finding yourself, learning from your fellow man and strengthening our communities.
Now, I say Gimme Summer That!