Winter wonderland

While the weather is still cool, a number of local attractions warrant closer attention


Winter in South Africa brings along a lot of enjoyable activities for a fun-filled trip. Many destinations are still warm enough for outdoor adventures (especially with spring on the horizon), while cultural events create a festive atmosphere. With comfortable temperatures and fewer crowds in South Africa’s most popular sites, winter is a wonderful time to discover its diverse landscapes and unique history.

Cape of good times

The Western Cape is known for its Mediterranean climate, which means that the province experiences low temperatures, gusty winds, increased rainfall and all-round unpredictable weather. Cape Town is arguably South Africa’s most visited city and with good reason. It is a vibrant location with a mix of diverse cultures, landscapes and cuisines. Popular for its iconic Table Mountain and pristine, white-sand beaches, Cape Town is one of South Africa’s most picturesque destinations. The colder season means the city is less crowded and, as such, can be explored more freely. Art enthusiasts can visit Zeitz MOCAA, the largest art museum in Africa and the largest museum in the world showcasing the art of Africa and its diaspora. Cape Town is a nature lover’s paradise. Visitors can enjoy a light stroll through the Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden, surf the fierce winter waves of Long Beach, Glen Beach and Llandudno, or kitesurf at Bloubergstrand and Muizenberg Beach. Foodies will want to take the Bo-Kaap Cooking Tour, which takes you on a voyage into the life, food and culture of the Cape Malays in Bo-Kaap, offering you a hands-on, practical lesson on how to cook like a real Cape Malay auntie! Out of the big city? A tour to Stellenbosch should be on your list, as its wine region can be one of the cosiest places to visit in South Africa in winter. Go on a wine-tasting expedition to some of the stunning wine farms and estates on offer. Winter days in the rustic countryside are spent snuggled up by the fireplace and sampling tasty wines from local sommeliers – without the tourist crowds.

Wind up

The windy city (above), the friendly city, Port Elizabeth, Gqeberha – whatever you know it as, it’s a beautiful holiday destination away from the usual vacation spots. Discover the ocean on your doorstep while in town. There are beautiful Blue Flag beaches where guests can take a walk along the beach, spot a few penguins and, if lucky, perhaps even a few dolphins. Or hop onto an electric scooter to explore Gqeberha’s waterfront.

Warm welcome

When thinking about KwaZulu-Natal, most people think of Durban. If you’re not a fan of cold temperatures, Durban is the place to be in winter. Icy winters are unheard of here. Instead, there are mild temperatures, low humidity, little rainfall and even less in the way of crowds. Winter in Durban is the perfect time to test your surfing skills at North Beach, Ansteys Beach or Cave Rock, three of the area’s most thrilling surf destinations. If you want to witness the wonders of the deep blue, head to the coastal town of St Lucia for sensational views of the Elephant Coast while on a whale-watching cruise. Even more exciting, perhaps, is the annual Sardine Run, where millions of sardines swim to the shores of Durban and fishermen, birds and sharks fight for the ultimate catch. If fitness is your thing, consider cycling along the beachfront Golden Mile. Umhlanga is the perfect base from which to explore at your leisure. Take a stroll on Whale Bone Pier, which makes for the perfect photo opportunity, soak up some sun on Umhlanga Beach, enjoy art at Makiwa Gallery, feast on fresh seafood at Q’bn’s Eatery or shop till you drop at the Oceans Mall, which features a host of national and international brands.

Golden opportunity

South Africa’s largest city has a host of activities to be enjoyed by all members of the family. From historical to cultural events, Johannesburg has it all. Rosebank has the highest concentration of major art galleries, all centred within walking distance of each other, and plenty of public art to enjoy too. In Rosebank, art is not only found in galleries but is incorporated into the architecture of most luxury hotels. The Keyes Art Mile is an impressive contemporary development on Keyes Avenue that celebrates local art and design as well as fine food. Keyes Art Mile’s main building, The Trumpet, is home to the innovative TMRW Gallery, Joburg’s first gallery dedicated to digital art, and Banele Khoza’s BKhz gallery, which focuses especially on promoting young and upcoming artists. The vast atrium at its centre is curated as a pop-up exhibition space and upstairs you’ll find a cluster of slick restaurants and bars, and chic cafés open out onto a street flanked by wild olive trees. There are also traditional handmade crafts, sold by local artisans at The Rosebank Arts and Craft Market at Rosebank Mall.

Park life

Mpumalanga boasts one of the largest game reserves in Africa, the Kruger National Park. The Park is one of the best destinations in South Africa for wildlife viewing. If you want to increase your chances of spotting all the Big Five on a Kruger safari, winter is your best bet. The drier winter months mean less foliage, making game-spotting a lot easier.

Text | Supplied

Photography | Arnold.Petersen, Photo Africa SA

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