The "golden public holiday" month of April is now a distant memory and you probably don't have enough leave days left to take until December, but that doesn't mean that you can't get away for a short break. South Africa is full of great places to visit that are easily accessible from the major cities and won't involve a lot of travel time - you can easily take a mini-holiday over the weekend. Here are the top pics for short breaks near Johannesburg, Cape Town, and Durban.
For a slice of farm life close to Joburg, the Cowshed fits the bill. Located between Dullstroom and Lydenburg, the Cowshed consists of four vintage self-catering houses on a working farm. Each comes with a fully equipped kitchen, outdoor braai area, indoor fireplace, DSTV, and is serviced daily. Besides lazing on the spacious veranda, there’s plenty for you and the kids to do including hiking, horse riding and mountain biking, as well as fishing and game spotting everything from duiker to zebra to wildebeest. Ashbrook Country Lodge
Located in the foothills of the Maluti Mountains, the tiny Free State town of Clarens is the perfect antidote to city life. Ashbrook’s stylish self-catering units are right in the middle of town, so they’re within easy reach of many restaurants and galleries. The units come with fully equipped kitchens, open fireplaces and outside braai areas, and they’re well prepared for winter with down duvets and electric blankets. Beyond the town’s attractions, enjoy hiking, mountain biking, white water rafting, golf and bird watching. Vacation Club
, Sun City
Few other places near Johannesburg can rival the kid-friendliness of Sun City. Besides the Valley of the Waves with its sprawling manmade beaches and wave pools, there’s also putt-putt, kiddies trains, bumper boats, a huge gaming arcade, game drives, mini golf and more. The recently refurbished units at the Vacation Club are spaciously kitted out with multiple bedrooms, a lounge, braai area and kitchen. Vacation Club also has its own swimming pools, jumping castles, child minders and kids’ activity programmes – so the adults can have a holiday too.
Cape TownOld Mac Daddy Trailer Park
Situated in the lush Elgin valley, Old Mac Daddy takes a modern twist on the nostalgia of fifties caravan holidays. The scenic farm is dotted with ten original airstream trailers, each uniquely decorated in a creative and playful theme, from bees to cupcakes to yellow submarines. Besides the queen bed in each trailer, an adjoining living unit contains a lounge (which converts into a kids’ room), an en-suite bathroom and a viewing deck. Breakfast is included in your room rate, and you can also enjoy gourmet pizza or tapas for lunch and a seasonal dinner menu at the communal barn and outdoor areas. There’s plenty to do including taking a dip in the dam, explore twisting mountain bike trails, or visiting the many local wineries nearby.Duinepos Chalets
, West Coast National Park
Situated in the West Coast National Park, Duinepos chalets offer a tranquil getaway in truly pristine coastal surroundings. Just an hour and a half from Cape Town and nearby Langebaan, the chalets are perfect for appreciating the teeming water birdlife on the nearby lagoon and estuary. Besides many water sport options, you can also take hikes, biking and birding trails, or simply relax in the solitude of your surroundings. The eleven self-catering chalets each sleep from four to six people, and their low-key eco design blends in with their surroundings. Stanford Country Cottages
Just over an hour’s drive from Cape Town, the charming village of Stanford is the perfect weekend getaway. Stroll the streets lined with pretty Victorian cottages before browsing antique shops and then head to the town’s small but discerning selection of restaurants and coffee shops. There’s also a river bordering the one side of town that’s perfect for canoeing and swimming when they weather’s good. Stanford Country Cottages are located throughout the village and all offer self-catering accommodation suited to a range of budgets.
DurbanPumula Beach Hotel
Just 100 kilometres south of Durban, Pumula’s main attractions are the gorgeous views of the Indian Ocean and the pristine blue flag beach just below the hotel. The hotel is firmly aimed at families, and the day rate includes all meals as well as a kids’ entertainment programme. If you’re not on the beach, there’s plenty at the hotel to keep the little ones entertained: from a toddler’s paddling pool, mini golf, jungle gym, trampolines, and an indoor games room. The variety of room options include 25 family rooms, around half of which are interleading rooms. All rooms are serviced daily, fully air-conditioned, and have tea and coffee making facilities. Mountain Splendour
Want to experience the great outdoors but without the hassle of trekking all your own camping equipment with you? In the heart of the Central Drakensberg, Mountain Splendour resort offers a “glamping” alternative where tents take you close to nature but contain all the modern comforts of a hotel room (such as a comfortable bed with linen, a fridge, lights, tables, chairs, crockery and cutlery). Tents sleep four to six people, so they’re perfect for families. This four star resort is set amid a forest of trees and manicured lawns, and boasts spectacular mountain views. Outdoor activities include mountain biking, pony rides, tubing, swimming, picnicking, birding, hiking, tennis, volleyball, golf, fishing, white water rafting, canopy tours and zip lining. The Cavern
Located in the Northern Drakensberg adjacent to the Amphitheatre, the Cavern is a luxury family resort set in a valley beneath the dramatic sandstone cliffs of the Drakensberg mountain range. Choose from a variety of accommodation options – either in the lodge or in self-catering units – all of which offer beautiful views of the surrounding landscape. Go on a guided hike or horse ride, trout fishing, golfing and mountain biking, or let your young kids play in the playroom where nannies are available for childminding. Accommodation is split between standard and superior rooms as well as superior suites, but there are also family rooms and units with multiple beds and/or interleading rooms. Daily rates include dinner and breakfast, with separate kids’ menus and a children’s dining room.
From our list above, it’s clear that no matter where you are in South Africa, you’re spoilt for choice when it comes to short break destinations. Planning your getaway and starting to budget for it? Note that most medical aid rewards programmes, for example Fedhealth’s Sanlam Reality, offer discounts on local flights, car hire and hotels – so if you’re a member, going away is even more affordable.