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​South Africa’s best winter travel destination​s

Thinking about planning a South African self-drive safari this winter? We asked 7 South African travel experts to share their favourite winter travel destination​ with us. 

 

Allison Foat

Travel and lifestyle blogger
Website: http://capetowndiva.com/
Twitter: @AllisonFoat
Instagram: @allisonfoat

McGregor

It would have to be McGregor, 10 minutes from Robertson. I went there last November on a press trip and loved it so much, I bought a holiday house there!

It's a quaint village that is about 1 hour 50 minutes from Cape Town along one of my fave roads, Route 62. I particularly love the Breede River Valley - the area is gorgeous in any season.

McGregor has a calmness to it that I can't quite explain - you have go and experience it for yourself. And an added bonus is that there is amazing wine to be purchased along the way at many excellent estates like Springfield (I'm a huge Whole Berry and Work of Time fan), and in the town itself there is excellent coffee (Flora's), a fabulous gift shop (How Bazaar), the best masseuse ever (Deirdre), the most addictive cheesecake you'll ever taste (Green Gables) and top level cuisine (Karoux).

The people are warm and it's my home away from home.

Desiree Haakonsen

Southern Africa Travel Expert
Website: http://www.edutoursafrica.com/
Twitter: @deshaakonsen
Instagram: @deshaakonsen

Madikwe Game Reserve

I love the gloomy skies, raging oceans, snow-tipped mountains, and red wines of a Cape winter, but I like to get outside as much as possible when I'm travelling.

If I had to pick one spot right now for a winter getaway, it would be a safari - probably in Madikwe.

Winter is ideal for wildlife spotting because the bush is less dense and the lack of winter rain means the animals are more concentrated around the waterholes. And after the summer heat waves hitting over 40°C, I’d welcome the cooler temps - and lack of mozzies!

Kate Els

Travel, food and wine writer
Website: http://indikate.net/
Twitter: @Kate_Els
Instagram: @kate_els

KwaZulu-Natal Midlands

My best destination for a snug winter right now is the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands. There are tons of cottages with fireplaces for people exploring the area and the slow nature of the area makes for a proper getaway.

Just because you're out in the country doesn't mean you'll have to tone down on the good life though, because there are some incredible restaurants and experiences out there to couple with any relaxing getaway. The rolling hills, misty mornings and beautiful landscapes make for some incredible photos too!

Loren Cohen

Travel, food and wine writer
Website: http://www.minkys.co.za/
Twitter: @MinkysBlog
Instagram: @misslorencohen

Kruger National Park

My favourite South African winter travel destination would have to be the Kruger National Park. Although it is an all year round destination, there is something about the winter months that makes it a lot more exciting and inviting.

The temperature is much cooler so the animals are more active and alert, the vegetation is low and sparse making it easier to spot animals, and subsequently the game viewing is at its absolute best. Another plus in winter is that the malaria risk is significantly lower.

With just a short scenic drive from Gauteng, who wouldn't want to miss this in the winter months!

Judiet Barnes

Marketing Manager at Cape Point
Website: http://capepoint.co.za/
Twitter: @Judiet_B
Instagram: @judietb

Kruger National Park, Drakensberg and Cape Town

We are so spoilt for choice in South Africa, that it would be a sin to only mention one place, so I am going to talk about my top three.

The bush: Kruger National Park

Being a born-and-bred Mpumalanga gal, the scenic beauty found in The Kruger National Park and surrounding areas lies very close to my heart.

To me, few things says winter-warmer better than the warm days found in the bushveld, watching our wild animals roaming in freedom; while the nights cool down, it provides the opportunity to cuddle under a blanket, clutching your cup of boere-troos, watching bushveld TV (i.e. the crackling fire) while listening to the lions calling into the night, in the hopes that you will get a glimpse of him on your sunrise drive: flask and rusks at the ready for the perfect sighting-stop.

The berg: Drakensberg

What would winter be without a little snow? The Drakensberg should be on everyone’s bucketlist when traveling in winter in SA.

The Drakensberg is beautiful year-round, but being drizzled with frosted tips has its own sense of allure, especially when combining it with some gluhwein and chilli-chocolate!

I would highly recommend extending the visit to the nearby midlands meander with Nothingham road at the centre of it all. Hot spa treatments, crafts and tastings… be warned however, it may be difficult to leave after a few days!

The beach: Cape Town

Crazy thought, right? Go to the beach in winter? I must be mad! Well, I’m not referring to the beach experience you may think: not with umbrella’s and building castles in the sand, but rather discovering the winter beaches of Cape Town for a whole different aspect: experiencing the Cape of Storms as the navigators once did.

I once took a group of media to Cape Point on a stormy day, we gave each person a cup of hot chocolate, an all-weather proof jacket and we went hunting for the mysterious Flying Dutchman ghostship rumoured to sail around Cape Point until eternity, only showing its red-glowing silhouette in storms.

Seeing the forces of nature as the waves beat down relentlessly on the rocks was a truly unique and beautiful experience. The Cape Town restaurants cosy up in winter, with warm fireplaces, fluffy blankets, hot Cape Malay flavours coming from the kitchens and the widest selections of red wines. Pure bliss.

Megan Ellis

Travel Editor at iAfrica.com
Website: http://travel.iafrica.com/
Twitter: @Megg_Ellis
Instagram: @megg.ellis

Garden Route: Plettenberg Bay and Stellenbosch

My favourite destination during the winter months is the Garden Route, especially Plettenberg Bay and Stellenbosch. This is because you get the peace and quiet of the off-peak season and the special discounts that come with it.

The rain doesn’t really put a damper on things because there are often clear days which you can enjoy, without the sometimes unbearable heat that comes with summer. And don’t forget it’s whale watching season!

Fuad Peters

Travel professional
Twitter: @fuadpeters
Instagram: @fuadpetersfuadpeters

Garden Route: Plettenberg Bay and Stellenbosch

I don't really have a favourite winter travel destination though I enjoyed being able to experience most of my favourite on a Garden Route road trip. The setting was idyllic to us; fresh crisp clear air, green spaces and various wildlife.

We stayed with family near the Wilderness Nature Reserve and were treated to birdsong all the time, went for a drive and walk along the Touws River, seeing some bird life we don't always get to see. We also took a drive to Plettenberg with a visit to Jukani, Birds of Eden & Monkeyland.


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