During these strange new times, post-pandemic, most have become tired of the four walls we’ve been confined to and are now starting to look forward. For many of us itching to get away the lingering question is where to next?
Scrolling an Insta or Facebook feed, there are literally thousands of options worldwide. We seek safety outdoors, wide open spaces, crowd avoidance and engagement with nature far more than our usual longing for city vibes.
South Africa has been voted a favourite destination post-COVID19 and for good reason – most notably because it has a lot to offer the traveller looking for more socially distant types of holidays.
Below we outline some of these options such as our safaris, our beautiful accommodation in natural settings and our day tours that make South Africa a go-to destination.
SAFARI HOLIDAYS: Open-air experiences, away from the crowds
One of the country’s favourite tourism experiences for local and international travellers are South Africa’s wonderful safari experiences. By choosing a safari holiday, you are actively contributing to protecting the environment and choosing a destination that will offer you a lower density of travellers and wide-open spaces.
Here are a few popular safari options:
Kruger National Park Renowned as South Africa’s premier safari destination to spot the Big 5 due to the density of these species in the protected area.
Open to ‘day visitors’, the Kruger National Park has tarred roads for self-drive travellers and offers a fantastic opportunity to enjoy the wildlife without being in direct contact with other people.
The Greater Kruger Areas Mainly unfenced to the Kruger National Park (if bordering the reserve), these areas are privately run and very popular for seeing wildlife. Animals in these private reserves roam free and there are no tar roads that direct traffic. Game vehicles operate throughout concessions, limiting traffic.
The private lodges that occupy this greater area are actively supporting conservation efforts and various local communities. By staying at these, you are not only contributing to the socio-economic projects that benefit the environment and community, you also achieve social distance while on holiday; it’s a win-win.
Madikwe Game Reserve Located about three hours’ drive from Johannesburg this is the fifth-largest game reserve in the country and offers a great Big 5 safari option. This reserve is a little less frequented than the Kruger and considered a hidden gem for safari enthusiasts.
Addo Elephant Park Although this game reserve does not offer a Big 5 experience, it is known for the up-close experience you can have with magnificent herds of elephant. The national park is just under an hours drive from Port Elizabeth and also offers a variety of lodges in which to stay. Being a national park, this safari experience, much like that of the Kruger National Park, requires you to stay on the tar roads and is the perfect self-drive option. Add on a Garden Route road trip and you’ll get to enjoy coastal beauty and the wonders of wildlife all on one trip.
What can I expect on safari?
Being on safari allows you to experience wildlife in its natural habitat, while in the safe hands of professional guides and rangers.
Some typical safari experiences include:
ACCOMMODATION SET IN NATURE
Visitors to South Africa will be spoilt for choice when they want to get away from the crowds and escape. Here are some of our favourites and why:
Grootbos Nature Reserve (www.grootbos.com): Located approximately 2 hours outside of Cape Town, this eco-reserve offers a true immersion into nature, top-class service, unique activities that allow you to experience the destination to its fullest and really get away and relax.
The Reserve offers a selection of activities such as nature drives, coastal safaris, whale watching tours, shark cage diving, bird watching, horse riding and award-winning SPA treatments enjoyed outside in the fresh forest air.
If you would like to enjoy an even more secluded accommodation option, we can highly recommend one of the private villas, allowing you to still enjoy the lodge facilities and dine privately. (https://www.grootbos.com/en/private-villas)
Bushmans Kloof Wilderness Reserve & Wellness Retreat (www.bushmanskloof.co.za) A three-hour drive outside of Cape Town, this natural haven is located in the Cederberg Mountains and offers a true escape from the city and buzz of people. As a member of the Treadright Foundation (https://www.bushmanskloof.co.za/sustainability) and involved in various other initiatives helping local communities and the environment, Bushmans Kloof offers serenity and a truly unique experience based on the area’s rock art which can be explored on a nature walk. The reserve is also home to the Cape leopard and aardvark.
Want to spend time on your own? This retreat also offers gorgeous villa options: (https://www.bushmanskloof.co.za/rooms-and-suites/private-villas)
DAY TRIPS OUT IN NATURE
Want to escape the city? Here are several self-drive day trips you’ll want to pack your padkos for:
From Cape Town
Characterised by its breathtaking landscapes, good food and good wine, the Cape Winelands is the perfect day trip from Cape Town, with a range of wineries open for tastings in small groups or in private.
From Port Elizabeth
Open-air picnic spots and secluded beaches litter the Eastern Cape coastline all the way from Cape Town up the coast to Port Elizabeth. Should you be looking for a day tour that explores a particular region or park you don’t have to enjoy lunch in a restaurant but can pack or purchase a picnic and enjoy it along route. Should you wish to grab a mountain bike or hiking pack and explore the mountains we have some of the best routes in the country up our coastline such as the Outeniqua Trail or Otter Trail.
When visiting Johannesburg and Gauteng area, you may assume buzzing city tours are your only options for day trips, fortunately, the region has some lovely affordable options of things to do on the outskirts. Allow some time to get out into the open and visit the Pilansberg National Park. Just under 4 hours outside of the city in the North West Province, the park offers affordable safari options including some of the Big 5 and an opportunity to see some of the ancient rock art discovered in the area.
Nature is generous in this part of the country and riddled with activities along the Midlands Meander. Explore this 80km sightseeing route and you will encounter beautiful hiking trails for all fitness levels, zip line adventures through the forests, birding, wildlife experiences while walking, mountain biking, and fishing. This lush green province is absolutely beautiful and is a great chance to get back in touch with nature, take in the crisp air, and enjoy the outdoors.
South Africa is not your average destination. Explore the beauty, experience the open air, and take advantage of a destination that offers so much in this post-pandemic era.