Cape Town - Skiing and snowboarding opportunities in South Africa are few and far between for the most part.
While we've had a swath of crazy, winter weather - bringing with it unexpectedly, chilly flurries - all too soon it disappears beneath our incredible African sun.
Nobody's saying discredit Tiffindell or AfriSki - but what about the real-deal European holiday experience? Does the flaky rand exchange make it seem all downhill for any Alpine escape?
When you consider that booking flights to Maseru, Lesotho could cost an estimated R6 246 in early December and that a flight deal to Frankfurt, Germany can be found at under R9 000 - chances are you're wondering how to be savvy about the rest of your ski-holiday booking.
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Experts suggest that the ski holiday has become far more accessible to South Africans in recent years - with more local families taking to the slopes for their annual holidays. For those of you who are looking for a dose of adventure, beyond the spoils of abseiling Table Mountain or jumping off the highest bridge bungee our at Bloukrans - it makes sense that ski/snowboarding trips be a few rungs up on the ultimate adrenaline bucket list.
So what do you do if the snow bug has bitten? Here are a few ideas that could see you drifting across some powder-fresh slopes if not this December, then some time in 2018.
Summer snow is just as good
According to bookings with popular holiday package providers, snow holidays ‘late’ in the ski season over March and April are also more suitable and affordable for South Africans.
Skiing over the festive season in December - as well as in January before school begins, shouldn't be overlooked if you're a seasoned adventurer. But if you're a beginner then the European summer is the obvious choice.
November-January is winter in the Alps. This means that it’ll be pretty chilly at that time of year – but great for experienced skiers.
From February onward it starts to warm up a little, and by the time March and April come around you’ll have more sunshine. There’s no reason to give up the sun in exchange for the cold – you can enjoy the best of both worlds.
Don't be coy, book an all-inclusive package
Increasingly South Africans are comparing the cost of local travel to regional and international travel destinations. Competitive pricing and value for money, means local options are often coming up more expensive.
The types of holidays locals are taking does appear to be shifting. Share-economy options such as Airbnb are making it more affordable to visit far-flung destinations, so too are all-inclusive deals for three- and four-star hotels, with added value becoming the rule rather than the exception.
And it couldn't be more so for the ski or snowboarding holiday experience - choose packages which include lessons for a better deal.
Since most locals will most definitely be new to skiing and snowboarding, it's vital to pick a resort that offers the complete package – including equipment and lessons, as well as snow passes.
SEE: How to do a budget Euro trip – and have a unique experience in the process
Expect less crowds, but still enjoy the atmosphere
While you’re enjoying the sun of your off-peak ski break - you can also expect fewer people on the slopes. This means you get extra special care from your ski instructor. You’ll feel like a real VIP.
When it comes to ski holidays, it's not just adults who are strapping on the skis or the snowboards. A ski holiday is a brilliant idea for a family getaway. Wouldn't your kids love a chance to get into the snow? It certainly will be a school holiday with a difference and a whole lot of fun.
In the evenings, you can take full advantage of the snowy wonderland you find yourself in, and cozy up to a fireplace whilst you enjoy the charm of everything that comes after a day on the slopes - which is usually referred to as ‘après-ski’. Think mulled wine, crepes and pastries. On a good day, perhaps even a sun-downer.
SEE: What's it really like to go on one of those package deal holidays?
A look at ski holiday options ranging from family-friendly to student fun:
Grand Massif Samoëns Morillon French Alps
A ski holiday at Club Med's Grand Massif Samoëns Morillon Resort on the Plateau des Saix, close to Geneva and Annecy, is the guarantee of an exceptional environment for an authentic ski-in ski-out mountain experience in the heart of the Grand Massif ski area. When you come off the slopes, enjoy time at the pool with the children or chill out at Club Med Spa by Carita.
Estimated cost: R 22 686 excluding flights
Zell am See, Pension Hubertus, Austria
With its large lake and medieval pedestrian centre, it's not hard to see why Zell am See is one of the most attractive villages in Austria. Country customs, traditional hospitality, breathtaking walks and mountain scenery, on top of incredible skiing make Zell am See the full package when it comes to ski holiday destinations.
Estimated cost: R31 610 including flights
Grand Hotel Kempinski High Tatras, Slovakia
This lovely, contemporary 4* hotel sits at the foot of the slopes in a ski-in, ski-out location, offering modern surroundings, a spa with an indoor pool and sauna, a superb restaurant and comfortable bedrooms with crisp white linen.
Situated in the heart of the impressive High Tatras Mountains with a breath-taking panorama view of the Strbské Pleso and the mountain face. This luxury hotel offers tradition as well as a unique natural experience.
Estimated cost: R21 100 excluding flights
Les Deux Alpes in the French Alps
This is an all-inclusive ski trip with easy access from Grenoble or Geneva airports. Keep in mind it's share-accommodation and is more suited to students. It promises natural snow across Europe’s largest skiable glacier.
Estimated cost: R11 449 excluding flights
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