Make the most of this year's long weekends by planning a special family or couples break. All pictures: Supplied.

Sssh! Make sure your boss doesn’t overhear this, but there’s a string of long weekends coming up from mid-March, to the beginning of May. But you need to start planning as soon as possible, if you’re going to maximise your time away from the daily grind.

If you take off from Human Rights Day on March 21 and return after Easter on 3 April, you’ll be able to enjoy a 13-day break, using just 6 leave days.

And, since the Easter Weekend coincides with school holidays, families should start planning now to take advantage of the period. You could, for example, take just 4 days leave (3, 4, 5 and 6 April) and gain 10 days for a family break, a romantic getaway, or exciting escapades with friends.

This year, Freedom Day, April 2 , falls on a Friday and it’s followed by Workers’ Day on Tuesday, 1 May.  So, if one takes leave on April 30, a five-day long weekend awaits.

“Whether you’re a couple wanting a getaway, in desperate need of some family time, or just want to get out of the city with a group of your best friends, planning is key,” says Avukile Mabombo, Group Marketing Manager of Protea Hotels by Marriott® and African Pride Hotels. “And if you plan smartly, you can turn a long weekend into a strong weekend, packed with adventures.”

Here are some suggestions:

 Western Cape

Langebaan Lagoon and its beautiful blue waters makes for a perfect getaway.

West Coast is always an idea. Mabombo  says that its an easy drive to get to Langebaan or Saldanha Bay.

“ As it is not far from Cape Town, it makes for a perfect for a shorter break like over a long weekend. Laze on the beach or go swimming in the Langebaan Lagoon, with its warmer waters. There has also been an increase in people coming to the area to learn how to kitesurf because the Lagoon is perfect for beginners,” he says.

Mountain biking enthusiasts will enjoy the Saldanha Nature Reserve. The routes are not difficult to work out as they follow jeep track and dirt roads around the peninsula, and be sure to bring binoculars, if bird watching is your thing.


The sea at Karridene Beach is calming.

Karridene Beach offers both sea and river adventures, while children can be kept constantly entertained at Umhlanga, with its beach and the huge Gateway Shopping Centre. And if they want a break from the beach, uShaka Marine World is well within driving range.


African Pride Mt Grace at night. Picture: Herman Bosman.

In Johannesburg, cycling enthusiasts can take a few days off to enjoy some of the wonderful mountain biking trails South Africa has to offer. A trip to Mount Grace Country House & Spa near Rustenburg, even if it’s just for the day, is a great way for Joburgers to enjoy a long weekend, and the hotel’s Cob & Sprocket Mountain Bike Club has facilities suitable for both serious bicycling enthusiasts and the family who wants to spend a good few hours together.