The Golden Gate Highlands National Park is worth a visit

You don’t have to be a globetrotter to explore. For most South Africans, our backyard offers a myriad of experiences - some of which can’t be enjoyed anywhere else in the world.

You could enjoy what international visitors are saving up as bucket-list experiences by enjoying the concept of a ‘staycation’ this summer – right here! You can do more and pay less by taking advantage of special offers, promotions and sales to avoid the crowds or join them at their own game.

A staycation can mean short weekends with lazy stop-overs, or staying in South Africa for the year-end holidays. You may be a sun-and-shore addict or prefer the hills and flatlands of the bush. It’s all up to you.

Whichever you choose, the country has so many venues to choose from, letting you have a night of luxurious rest and a scrumptious breakfast to give you energy for a day spent chilling under the sun.

Here are some ideas to whet your appetite for some local summer travel:

The rolling hills and endless coastline of Kwazulu-Natal

Alan Paton’s Cry the Beloved Country opens with the line “There is a lovely road that runs from Ixopo into the hills,” and this conveys some of what you can experience in the KZN Midlands; rolling through the Valley of 1000 Hills, a lush, green vista that provides unspoilt nature, wildlife and wining and dining. 

It’s a route you can enjoy on its own or while on the way to another KZN destination such as Amanzimtoti, Margate, Umhlanga or the Drakensberg Mountain Range. 

The coastal region winds along the Indian Ocean and gives access to many beaches, perfect picnic spots and the annual Sardine Run, a scientific curiosity that sees millions of the fish churning up the waters and attracting other marine life.

From the urban energy of Gauteng to laid-back rural lifestyle in Bloem

The joy of Gauteng and surrounds is that there are times when the urban areas settle down, particularly when there’s the annual exodus to the coast. Locals love the juxtaposition of the hustle and bustle of city life with nature just a short trip away.

Spas, resorts and country houses offer peace and quiet but with access to natural splendor, but if you want to stay in the heart of the city, you could head out to Soweto’s most-famous road, Vilakazi Street, which was home to both former president Nelson Mandela and Bishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu. It’s the heart of this neighbourhood’s tourism experience. 

After that, you can enjoy cocktails at the stylish Protea Hotel Fire & Ice, Melrose Arch that also offers a chic in-house restaurant which serves breakfast, lunch and dinner daily to tantalise taste buds with sumptuous cuisine.

A favourite space to enjoy is within the Magaliesberg Mountains, but if your staycation involves a slightly longer range, Bloemfontein and surrounds are surprisingly picturesque, with quaint spots to enjoy the views and small, family-run businesses that offer personalised service.

The Cape of many personalities

Visit Boulders Beach to see the penguins.

Staycations and road trips are ideal within the Western Cape, where even in Summer the weather is generally mild and pleasant. From whales to penguins, or beaches and forests, there’s so much to see. 

If nature’s only part of what you enjoy on holiday, you could indulge in a retail adventure in some of Africa’s top stores and boutiques at the V&A Waterfront. The periphery of Cape Town itself provides some attractive places to make a home base from which to explore deeper inland, such as Durbanville and Franschhoek. 

The many wine routes that wind through the region offer dozens of farms and estates, each with unique varietals and many entertainment and dining options.

You could be enjoying this summer’s top experiences in an affordable way that’ll leave you with plenty of memories and stories to tell.