When it comes to exploring South Africa, winter is often overlooked by both local and international travellers.
However, the country has multiple great destinations to explore or relax in during the winter months.
For local television and radio personality Kriya Gangiah, winter is one of her favourite times to travel because the cooler temperatures and drier weather across South Africa provide an opportunity to explore this beautiful country a little differently.
Yes, some people may feel that they don’t want to go anywhere during winter because it’s gloomy and cold.
However, Kriya shares some of the top places you can explore during the winter season.
The Drakensberg remains of the most beautiful destinations in South Africa during both summer and winter – and it has proved to be a popular tourist destination throughout the year.
“The Drakensberg is just a few hours away from Johannesburg and is a perfect destination to plan a road trip for,” Kriya says. “If you plan this trip just right, you can enjoy the beautiful snow that falls in this area every winter - you could even take in a bit of skiing!”
Kriya believes that The Tsitsikamma is one of the most underrated destinations in South Africa – and winter is the perfect time to explore it without the distraction of the beautiful beaches on the Garden Route.
“I love this area so much. Based in a protected area on the Garden Route, Western Cape and Eastern Cape, South Africa, the experience is honestly breathtaking,” Kriya explains.
“Even though it’s quite cold, you can still enjoy kayaking up the Storms River Mouth or hiking through the Tsitsikamma National Park during the winter months – and there are plenty other hidden gems to explore as well.”
For Kriya, Dullstroom is her all-time favourite winter destination. She explains that she tries to visit Dullstroom as often as possible. ‘’Firstly, the cold weather in Dullstroom really makes the destination special. You can curl up in front of the fire with a good book and a good glass of wine and just relax,” Kriya shares. However, there are plenty of other attractions to enjoy as well.
“If you like the outdoors, winter is the perfect time to go fly- fishing. The town itself is also bustling with delicious restaurants, incredible museums and interesting stores. The accommodation in Dullstroom is well priced and being only a two-hour drive from Johannesburg, it won’t break the bank.”
Clarens has made a name for itself as being one of the cosiest towns in South Africa.
“Situated in the foothills of the Maluti Mountains in the Free State, the tranquil village ambience combined with scenic views and a mild climate has made Clarens a popular getaway for city dwellers from Johannesburg – and I enjoy visiting every time I go,” Kriya shares.
One of places where you can enjoy the tranquillity and vibes of Clarens is Willow Rest House.
Clarens is also known for its craft beer at Clarens Brewery; not only is the beer good, but the food as well. They have made the effort to pair up beers with every dish on their menu. Many of the dishes have beer as an ingredient; for example, beer-battered fish and chips, spicy beer-marinated chicken wings and many more.
South Africa has some of the best safari experiences in the world, and visiting the popular Pilanesberg National Park is a treat even in winter.
“The weather is very forgiving and on a good day you might even be able to enjoy a swim at your hotel pool,” Kriya says.
“However, the main attraction is the game viewing. The morning drives might be slightly chilly, but they make for excellent game viewing as the wild animals are more active in the cooler temperatures. So, pack a big jacket and a fluffy blanket and enjoy the sights and sounds of the African bush.
“So, don’t hide in the confines of your home this winter, pack up the family and explore some of the beautiful winter destinations around South Africa,” Kriya concludes.