12 Top SA winter holiday destinations for families

2017-06-02 14:10 - Carin Bevan
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Looking for the perfect winter holiday? You've come to the right place. 

There is no reason to let tight budgets stop you and your family from making some pretty special memories.

Because while some would argue that travel is a luxury, we here at Traveller24 could not disagree more. It's a necessity and just a quick scan of your best memories and experiences should remind you of its value. 

ALSO SEE: #SABudgetTravel: How to give your bank balance a break

Whether you like to bundle up or prefer to head for warmer weather, here are 12 top winter holiday spots the whole family will enjoy.

Looking for: A winter wonderland

Possible snowfall, cosy accommodation and plenty of child-friendly activities make these destinations ideal for families who enjoy crisper weather and warm clothes. 

1. Tiffindel Ski Resort

Where is it? Eastern Cape, ±90 minutes drive from Rhodes (High clearance vehicle needed in winter).

Family accommodation: A choice of chalets, suites and luxury self-catering accommodation for families.

Kids will love: ski lessons; daily entertainment programmes; games room; snowball fights; snowman building; bumboarding; board games; tobogganing.

Mom and Dad will love: at least three months guaranteed skiing per year (June-August); ski lifts, shop and school; range of slopes; snow fun-park with rails and jumps; gluhwein and schnapps at South Africa’s highest pub; babysitting and daycare for children under 6.

2. Afriski Mountain Resort   

Where is it? Lesotho, 50km from the Ficksburg border post.

Family accommodation: From budget and 3-star family self-catering accommodation to 4-star lodges and chalets.

Kids will love: Skiing and snowboarding lessons; bike park; Pudi Adventure Land (with bike track, climbing wall and zip lining); paintball; kids’ paintball firing range; motorised scooters; bumboarding

Mom and Dad will love: Skiing and snowboarding lessons; freestyle skiing park; highest restaurant in Africa; guided motorbike trails; adventure biking; 4x4 trails; abseiling; hiking; trout fishing; day trips to dams, a diamond mine, nature reserve, archaeological sites and fossilised dinosaur footprints.

TRAVEL PLANNING: AfriSki Winter Fest: How to have a Lesotho snow adventure

3. Ceres  

Where is it? Western Cape, 150km from Cape Town (you may need a 4x4 to get to the snow) 

Family accommodation: Matroosberg Private Nature Reserve and Merino Farm both offer self-catering family accommodation, as well as access to the snow.

Kids will love: Snowboarding; paintball; quad bikes; farm tours; cherry picking; horse riding.

Mom and Dad will love: snowboarding; ice climbing; hiking; trail running; 4x4 trails; fishing; target shooting; game drives.

4. Southern Drakensberg 

Where is it? KwaZulu-Natal, ±209km from Durban. Towns include Underberg and Himeville.

Family accommodation: Bushman’s Nek Berg and Trout Resort or Sani Mountain Lodge both have family accommodation and entertainment for children.

Kids will love: Snow on Sani Pass (4x4 only); New England farm; adventure golf; tractor rides; horse-riding.

Mom and Dad will love: Wellness spas; 4x4 routes; golf course; babysitting facilities at Bushmansnek; trout fishing; bird watching

SEE: 13 Ways to charm in Clarens

5. Golden Gate National Park

Where is it? Free State, 19km from Clarens

Family accommodation: Family cottages and rondawels at different hotels and rest camps, including at the Basotho cultural village.

Kids will love: snow; Basotho cultural village; vulture restaurant; curio shop

Mom and Dad will love: walking trails; lookout points; game drives; scenery; restaurant, coffee shop and pub; day trips to Clarens.

6  Sutherland  

Where is it? Northern Cape, ±350km from Cape Town

Family accommodation: Sterland Guesthouses offers self-catering accommodation with breakfast and DSTv; Blesfontein Guest Farm offers full meals by prior arrangement.

Kids will love: snow (particularly in August); stargazing; outdoor and farmyard activities at Blesfontein Guest Farm; pony and horse-riding

Mom and Dad will love: stargazing tours; game drives; mountain biking; 4x4 trails; hiking; bird-watching; museums and monuments; Anglo-Boer War sites; Karoo cuisine; Salpeterkop (extinct volcano); scenic lookout points.

SEE: Snow, stars, serenity, Sutherland

SEE: 11 of the best spots to see snow in SA

7. Hogsback

Where is it? Eastern Cape, 150km from East London

Family accommodation: The 3-star King’s Lodge Hotel offers self-catering lodges with DSTv, fireplaces, and a supervised kids entertainment area. The Edge has self-catering cottages set right on the edge of the cliff.

Kids will love: snow; horse-riding; labyrinth (The Edge); kids entertainment and games room (King’s Lodge)

Mom and Dad will love: scenic mountain and forest walks; waterfalls; arts & crafts route; famous gardens, scenic Tyume Valley; hiking; mountain biking abseiling; bird-watching -including the rare and endangered Cape Parrot; trout fishing

SEE:12 SA spots to get off the grid

Looking for: Warmer weather

Winter is a great time to visit these holiday destinations: the days are warm and pleasant, while it’s not as crowded as during the December holidays. It’s also the best time for spotting animals in the Kruger Park, as game concentrates around a few big watering holes and the vegetation is not too thick.  

8. Kruger National Park 

Where is it? Mpumalanga and Limpopo, 400+ km from Johannesburg

Accommodation options: Satara Rest Camp is especially great for children, with a playground, kids educational programme and grassy areas. Further north lies Shingwedzi Rest Camp, which offers more rustic accommodation and is  great for game viewing in winter.

Kids will love: playgrounds; kids educational programmes; wild animals

Mom and Dad will love: wildlife; game drives; guided bush walks; 4x4 adventure trails; restaurants

 SEE:  Incredible Kruger: 13 wildlife sightings you have to watch!

SEE: Kruger Quick Guide: A first-timer’s guide to SA's iconic wildlife destination

9. Lowveld

Where is it? Mpumlanga. Towns include Nelspruit, White River and Kaapsehoop

Family accommodation: Forever resorts, Blyde Canyon and Swadini offer loads of family entertainment, including heated kids pools.

Kids will love: Motor Museum; horse-riding; Pilgrim’s Rest; Mac Mac Adventure Zone; Mankele Mountain Bike Park; Perry's Bridge Reptile Park; Shangana Cultural Village; Sudwala Caves; Bourke’s Luck Potholes

Mom and Dad will love: 4x4 routes; adventure sports (rafting, tubing, quad biking, abseiling, zipline, paintball, rock climbing, rock climbing, white river rating); hot air balloon trips; microlight trips; aerial cable trail; day trips to Sabie, Graskop, Pilgrim’s Rest, Blyde River Canyon, several waterfalls and the Kruger National Park.

SEE: #UnlockYourCity: How to plan the best Durban Staycation 

10. Durban and South Coast

Where is it? KwaZulu-Natal, from Durban to Port Edward

Family accommodation: Family-friendly resorts such as Cabana Beach (Umhlanga Rocks), La Cote D’Azur (Margate) and Pumula Beach Hotel (Umzumbe) offer self-catering accommodation, restaurants, shops and daily entertainment programmes for kids.

Kids will love: Durban Beachfront Funworld amusement park; uShaka Marine World theme park and aquarium; ice-skating; surfing; rickshaw rides; fleamarkets; beach holiday programmes; Segway tours of Moses Mabhida Stadium; Umgeni Bird Park; Natal Sharks Board

Mom and Dad will love: Blue Flag beaches; sunbathing; mountain biking; quad-biking; shopping; golfing; day-trips to the North Coast (including Ballito); Oribi Gorge Swing; spas

Special events: The Ballito Pro sufing competition - 22 June to 1 July 2018. 

SEE: 5 Durban travel secrets shared by SA's hottest bloggers

11. Jeffrey’s Bay 

Where is it? Eastern Cape, 65km from Port Elizabeth

Family accommodation: African Perfection, Bella Vista resort and Supertubes Guesthouse all offer self-catering or bed-breakfast family accommodation.

Kids will love: beach horse-rides; surf schools; Happy Hippo play farm; shell museum; mini golf; supertubes; funpark; ziplining

Mom and Dad will love: Blue Flag beaches; one of the world’s top surfing destinations (with the best waves between May and September); kite surfing; fishing trips; surf museum; day trips to game farms; golf

SEE: Long-weekend escapes: West Coast road-tripping made easy

12. Hermanus

Where is it? Western Cape, ±120km from Cape Town

Family accommodation: Hermanus has a wide variety of holiday rentals, self-catering accommodation and hotels. Be sure to ask about special winter tarrifs!

Kids will love: whales; white river rafting (winter only); boat trips; zip lining; sandboarding (Betty’s Bay); penguins (Betty’s Bay)

Mom and Dad will love: whale watching; sunset cruises; microlight flights; mountain biking; hiking; slackpacking; cycling; clay pigeon shooting; canopy tours; 4x4 trips; scuba diving; day-trips to hot springs (Caledon), Kogelberg Nature Reserve, Kleinriver Cheese factory (Stanford) and Birkenhead Brewery (Stanford)