Top South African Holiday Destinations for 2019
Holidays are meant to be enjoyed free from the everyday pressure of schedules and deadlines. This is your time for rest, for mental healing, and for spending quality moments with family and friends.
When planning your next family holiday, why not step off the well-trodden path to a new experience, researched and selected by one of South Africa's leading car hire companies, First Car Rental, here are some vacation options bound to become standout chapters in your family's holiday chronicles.
Whilst Shelly Beach, Margate, Uvongo and Ramsgate form the core of KZN South Coast's holiday mecca, there's a rather special spread of coastal bliss hidden a bit further down the road - one that's often overlooked by seasoned holiday planners.
Situated between Marina Beach and Palm Beach, lies the small village of Trafalgar, which surely is one of the most laidback coastal destinations in South Africa.
Its subtropical vegetation is unspoilt and its 2km stretch of beach is as private and secluded as they come.
Lose yourself in a long walk without another soul in sight, or simply sit and quietly take in the glorious surroundings whilst the waves gently sweep the concrete cobwebs to a distant, dark place.
There are also shark nets and surfers rate the waves as swell. Furthermore, with 90-million-year-old fossil beds just a short distance from the shoreline, Trafalgar has become one of the South Coast's prized snorkelling venues.
Where to stay:
The area has numerous guest houses and self-catering offerings to pick from. One favourite spot is Kingfisher Lakeside Retreat. Set on 15 acres, and with its own lake, buck and bird life, Trafalgar's sublime beach is a mere five-minute walk from the retreat.
For more info, visit their website.
De Hoop Nature Reserve, Western Cape
Situated in the Overberg region of the Western Cape and a three-hour drive from Cape Town, De Hoop Nature Reserve is a South African World Heritage Site. It encompasses 36 000 hectares of fynbos, sand dunes, mountains and a protected marine reserve along 70 km of undisturbed coastline.
What makes De Hoop such an ideal family holiday destination is because it caters for children, and adults, of all ages. There's even an all-year-round kiddies programme that includes star gazing, treasure hunts and loads of other activities. De Hoop also has some of the best hiking and biking trails South Africa has on offer.
Moreover, if you're a seasonal whale watcher, make sure to book between July and November. Amongst international tourists this heritage site holds a reputation as one of the world's most active whale breeding spots - with about 40% of the planet's Southern Right Whales coming to breed each year.
Where to stay:
The Reserve offers a variety of accommodation types - from affordable, cosy self-catering cottages, to stylish, full-catered suites.
To select one of the many venues, visit De Hoop Nature Reserve Accommodation here.
Franschhoek, Western Cape
If culture is what you seek when holidaying in South Africa, few local destinations offer such riches as Franschhoek. Not only is this one of South Africa's oldest towns, it's also become one of our most sought-after residential locations. Franschhoek makes our First Car Rental short list of prime holiday destinations simply because any such local list will be incomplete without it.
A picturesque 45-minute drive from Cape Town, Franschhoek is nestled in a fertile valley guarded by towering mountains. Today, the town is referred to by many as the heart of the Cape Winelands and South Africa's food and wine capital. By now there must be more than 30 wine cellars, and as many restaurants - of which eight currently feature on SA's top 100 restaurants list.
The village also hosts a diverse collection of art and antique shops and galleries.
A day visit definitely won't capture the essence of this remarkable destination. A two-week holiday is more likely to do the job. Once you've settled and acquainted yourself with all the village's travel treasures, you can also explore some of the other wine routes, especially the Four Passes Fruit Route (of which Franschhoek forms part). And then there are those glorious mountains with their many walking trails.
Where to stay:
This is one of those special places where one must be careful singling out a particular holiday venue. The accommodation talent on display in Franschhoek is simply phenomenal.
For a fuller online experience of Franschhoek and its countless accommodation options, please visit: www.franschhoek.co.za
Blyde River Canyon, Mpumalanga
Forming part of South Africa's famous Panorama Route which runs along the Mpumalanga Escarpment, the Blyde River Canyon is one of our top scenic wonders. It's also the third largest canyon in the world, and certainly the most beautiful.
According to iconic travel guide publisher, Lonely Planet, the canyon's scale and natural splendour is beyond compare...
"Epic rock formations tower above the forested slopes and eagle-eye views abound at the dramatic meeting of the Drakensberg Escarpment and the lowveld. Appreciating the area's scenery is also easy whilst travelling on a road that follows the edge of the canyon as it winds north from Graskop."
Graskop, which is situated on that part of the Escarpment above Kowyn's Pass, is actually the main gateway to a few of the area's spectacular sites. Apart from the Blyde River Canyon, there are also the Pinnacle, God's Window, Lisbon and Berlin Falls, Bourke's Luck Potholes, and the stunning rock formation known as the Three Rondavels.
Where to stay:
Again, outstanding accommodation options are plentiful when holidaying in this part of South Africa. This time however, we'll dare to pick one - The Flycatcher Castle.
Located on the outskirts of Graskop, The Flycatcher mimics the style of a 17th century Italian castle. Having been conceptualized in the form of a sculpture by part-owner Manie Connoway in 2005, the castle was constructed using hand-picked relics and works of art to create what's referred to as 'a magnificent masterpiece set in one of the most beautiful areas of the country".
For more info, visit the Fly Catcher Castle website.
Cape Vidal, KwaZulu-Natal
Few South Africans know of Cape Vidal, and even fewer have visited this exquisite gem on our far-northern KZN coast.
About three hours from Durban, Cape Vidal lies within the iSimangaliso Wetland Park World Heritage Site. The quaint holiday town of St Lucia sits right on its doorstep and is the ideal base from which to explore the area's many unspoiled beaches, tropical forests, massive dunes, and wetlands teeming with hippos and crocs.
A stone's throw from St Lucia and you're in Cape Vidal territory. In peak season there's often a queue at the Park's main gate, so make sure to get there as early as 5am.
Once inside, a narrow, winding road leads one through a dreamlike landscape of hilly plains and grasslands that hold a magical aura. With five, interlinked ecosystems competing in the sightseeing stakes, the species list of the area is also one of the most extensive in South Africa.
Then there's the Bay! After that 30-minute scenic drive - which could very well turn into a two hour excursion as you side-track to capture the stunning seascapes just beyond the dense verdure - a quick right turn brings you to what must be South Africa's most breath-taking beach.
This is as close to a tropical island setting, you'll get, and it's right within our borders. With its warm waters and mellow waves, even in peak season Cape Vidal's main beach is never too crowded and always spotless.
Where to stay:
Besides the many accommodation offerings in St Lucia, also consider staying at the remote Cape Vidal Resort which has fully-equipped, self-catering log cabins. Do book well in advance though - the resort is sometimes booked up six months prior to peak season.
For more info, visit Cape Vidal Resort or contact +27 33 845 1000.
South Africa has so many splendid holiday destinations catering for families. No short list can do justice to what our country has on offer. It's a brave move to single out five top destinations, never mind specific venues. A list of 100 might be more accurate in exposing the depth of our vacation offerings.
A final word from your First-Choice car rental service...
Not all family holidays are a success. For some it could become the most stressful time of year, as they fall into the trap of turning their holiday into a routine extension of what's come before.
At First Car Rental we further believe if one spends the entire vacation period waiting for the holiday spirit to kick in, soon you'll reach its end without gaining anything but more stress, albeit packaged with rather costly trimmings.
Holidays should be fun and peaceful - and a proactive means to pursue greater harmony of mind, body and soul. This is also a time to cement relationships, to make new friends, and to share in the happiness of others - all done with a keen spirit, as if their joy can only add to yours.
With car rental branches across South Africa, car hire is quick and easy with First Car Rental. Contact us today for professional car rental services.