With its snow-capped mountains, moody seas, misty forests and more, winter in South Africa is a wonderful time to explore your own backyard. Whether you’re in the rainy Western Cape or the crisp and clear Free State, hit the road for a winter weekend getaway near you.
Here are our top picks for a local getaway near you:
Winter in Cape Town is wet, windy and wild – and provides the perfect excuse to find a warm spot beside a fire and spend the weekend wining and dining in true Capetonian style. For weekend trips that are all about the food, head to La Galiniere Guest Cottages in Franschhoek, which boast beautiful views of the vineyards.
If you want to build a snowman, head to Mount Cedar in the Cederberg to soak up the mountain scenery and relish the possibility of snowfall! The Royal Hotel in Riebeek Kasteel dates back to the 19th century and is as famous for it warm hospitality as it is for its hearty breakfasts. Take a stroll through the town to buy local arts and crafts and even handmade chocolate before warming up beside the fireplace.
For a country escape in the Free State, Clarens is situated in the foothills of the Maluti Mountains and is aptly nicknamed the “Jewel of the Eastern Free State.” Stay at Bornfree to explore the area’s pristine dams and rivers, or go horseback riding, hiking, abseiling, mountain biking or even hot air ballooning.
Then there’s Muldersdrift, which has a great country feel to it even though it’s so close to Joburg. Spend the weekend at Country Park and treat yourself to the spa menu. Plus, you’re perfectly situated for a visit to the Cradle of Humankind to learn about the origins of humankind and inspect stone tools that are over one million years old!
Winter is the best time to enjoy a wildlife safari, as the bushveld is less dense and the animals more easily seen. For a 5-star Pilanesberg safari splurge, stay at Buffalo Thorn Lodge. This exclusive lodge offers a peaceful sanctuary in the heart of Black Rhino Game Reserve, within the Pilanesberg National Park.
Enjoy morning or afternoon game drives in an open vehicle as your ranger shows you the large and small species of the African bushveld. Or view the resident game from the comfort of loungers around the pool. Alternatively relax in the Jacuzzi as many species of birds and buck, even some of the big five, such as elephant, amble past the electric fence a few metres from the pool deck.
For safari getaways from Gqeberha, head to the Big 5 Addo Elephant Park; for safari thrills near Durban, there’s no place better than the Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park in Zululand.
For a mountain escape, book your weekend getaway at Moorcroft Manor, a luxury farmhouse in the Southern Drakensberg, nestled at the foot of South Africa’s highest mountain range.
For a beachy break, escape to Port Alfred. Stay at Villa de Mer on the beachfront to take advantage of those wild Eastern Cape waves (which tend to show off during the winter). Or, head to the Sundays River Valley (just 4 km from the Main Gate of the Addo Elephant National Park) and take your pick from luxury chalets, rustic self-catering bush cabins and a handful of delightful suites at the Addo Dung Beetle Lodge.
Make sure you’re #AAOkay this winter
Wherever you’re headed, when you book AA Quality Assured Accommodation, you’re assured a comfortable stay with great service and excellent value for money. Browse all our recommended accommodation options here. And don’t forget to download the AA App for roadside rescue and emergency medical assistance in the palm of your hand. Safe travels!