It’s been quite frosty out there and most of the time we just want to hibernate under our cosy duvets, with electric blanket and hot chocolate firm friends. However, there are some awesome winter perks.
Roaring log fires, a glass of cabernet, animal spotting and appreciation of how the seasons change… Luckily winter in South Africa is still usually accompanied by sunny skies.
Magaliesburg in Gauteng is almost guaranteed to offer sunny, intense blue skies and a warm daytime respite from the icy Joburg winds. Although it might seem like a small place on the map, there is plenty to do and loads of places to stay. You can lunch next to Hartbeespoort Dam, take a scenic drive through neighbouring Hekpoort, Kromdraai and Skeerpoort, visit the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site (as well as the Sterkfontein Caves, although you might need a jacket for these), go curio shopping in the village or take a walk on the wilder side at one the numerous nature and game reserves. Some other highlights in the area include hot-air ballooning, the Magaliesburg Canopy Tour, the Ngwenya Glass Village and whitewater rafting on the Crocodile River.
Another popular spot for a warm winter getaway is the Lowveld in Mpumalanga. The temperature is mild and comfortable, and because there is less foliage in winter, you are guaranteed to spot more game while on safari. A game drive with an experienced ranger will give you the chance to see the famous Big Five, so high on your list of places to visit should be the Kruger National Park, Sabi Sands Game Reserve or the Marakele National Park.
Nelspruit, Barberton, White River and the other little towns of Mpumalanga lie in a tropical paradise, where a jacket during the daytime is just unnecessary. If you’re heading into Kruger, you might need something warmer at night, and a fire is not unheard of in the evenings – although this has more to do with the idea of winter than to ward off anything resembling a chill.
The Lowveld is large and varied, including a range of incredible landscapes from escarpment vistas to wetlands. Explore the Blyde River Canyon, Echo Caves or God’s Window while driving the Panorama Route, and the Highlands Meander, or discover the Lowveld Botanical Garden in Nelspruit, elephant-back safaris in Hazyview, stone circles in and around Barberton, and the wild horses of Kaapsehoop. Explore our beautiful Mpumalanga, the home of the Lowveld.
KwaZulu-Natal North & The South Coast
The KwaZulu-Natal coastline is renowned for its mild, sunny winters and temperate climate, where you can choose to lie on a beach rather than wake up to frost in the Highveld or chilly rain in the Cape. Apart from the promenade and wide range of warm tidal pools, Durban also has the fantastic uShaka Marine World – Africa’s largest marine theme park, where you can snorkel, surf a standing wave or have a blast on the water slides. It’s a perfect destination if you’re travelling with kids.
If you’re into slightly wilder waters, there are surfing spots all along the northern Dolphin Coast and southern Hibiscus Coast. The sub-tropical climate and warm ocean currents guarantee a chill-free getaway, so make sure to try out Umhlanga, Umdloti, Ballito and Shelly Beach too. It’s everything coastal living during winter should be, and if you time it right, you’ll have most of the beach to yourself.