South Africa may not sound like the top-of-mind answer when people are asked about winter holidays. Then again, our recent article on unique South African experiences shows proof that the country has something more to offer, and the same goes with winter destinations.
Winter in South Africa typically happens around June to August, a time when the northern part of the world is experiencing the heat of summer. During this season, the mountain regions are capped with snow and the air is usually cool and dry. Together with its awesome sights and a wide range of holiday activities, South Africa offers some of the best winter escapes that you can ever experience.
We recently asked 20 South African travel bloggers this question: What is The Best Winter Destination In South Africa (and Why)?
Here’s a roundup of responses for the best South African winter destinations:
Favorite winter destinations in South Africa (as voted by 20 bloggers):
#1 (two points each): Karoo, Drakensberg, Pafuri / Kruger National Park, Sutherland / Northern Cape,
#2 (one point each): Durban, Garden Route, Limpopo, KwaZulu Natal Midlands, Cape Town, Hogsback, Wild Coast, Storm’s River Village / Tsitsikamma, Golden Gate National Park, Mpumalanga, Sodwana Bay, Kosi Bay, West Coast
Check out the individual responses of South African travel bloggers as they talk about their favorite winter destinations in South Africa:
Sandile Nene – On Point With Sandy Nene
Durban – as we always say, it’s the warmest place to be. Not just the weather but its people are also very loving, welcoming and friendly. We always love having visitors in our city and of course as they always say; Durban is one city in the country that you can visit the beach anytime you feel like, throughout the year.
I love South Africa and I am very passionate about digital media. Sharing my experiences online and building conversations with the friends I have made in the digital space is what I do for a living.
Rose Bilbrough – GoTravelbug
A winter destination is about not minding the cold and experiencing a place that is suited for the environment. I am a true fan of the Garden Route and its wonderful adventure experiences but step over the mountain into to the Klein Karoo and a whole new world opens up, places like Oudtshoorn, Caltizdorp, Prince Albert and the small Hamlet of Herold. The Klein Karoo offers dusty road trips to all kinds of place and mountain passes that you can be explored, whether it is a car, a motorbike or a mountain bike, pick one and let the Karoo roads open up this winter. The cozy accommodation spots with fireplaces and good old fashion hospitality will make you feel welcome. Learn about the Ostriches and their part of our historical economy, visit one of most famous caves in the world and drive over the second highest mountain of South Africa and maybe spot some snow along the way.
Gotravelbug is a road tripper of the roads less travelled, the off the beaten track wanderer and the paths less come by explorer. Come with me to discover places forgotten, the secrets of Southern Africa on foot, horseback, bicycle or a small Opel Corsa that pretends to be a 4 x 4. Armed with a camera, a backpack and quizy mind I will uncover culture, history, food, and other interesting facts of this extremely diverse country.
Melanie van Zyl – Melanie van Zyl
The Drakensberg. If you really want to feel winter, then I love a trip to the mountains. Fresh air, vigorous day hikes and then a cosy evening spent beside the fireplace sipping on red wine.
An experienced travel writer and destination photographer with digital know-how. I have written and photographed incredible destinations, so far covering Namibia, Mauritius, Botswana, Zanzibar, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Thailand, Sri Lanka and, more extensively, my home country South Africa.
Anton Crone – Safarious
Pafuri and the very north of Kruger National Park. Being above the Tropic of Capricorn it is slightly warmer here in winter, and, because it is a very long drive from Gauteng, there are far fewer visitors than Southern Kruger. No traffic jams here! Just yourselves and the wildlife – of which there is plenty, including vast herds of buffalo and elephant, as well as elusive roan antelope, and a great variety of predators. Punda Maria is my favourite SanParks restcamp. It is small and quaint; the hide is incredibly close to the waterhole which is frequently visited by elephant, and you have easy access to the forested Pafuri region in the north and the savanna and woodlands to the east. If you have a healthy budget stay at Return Africa Pafuri Camp where you will have exclusive access to the magical fever tree forest and the incredible Lanner Gorge.
Anton is the CEO and editor of wilderness travel website Safarious.com
Natalie Roos – Tails of a Mermaid
Of course I’d like to say Cape Town – which is always a pleasure for local and international visitors alike no matter the season! But I have to say that Limpopo is an unexplored gem! For those seeking to dig deeper into South African culture and experience something entirely unique, it has a lot to offer! From beautiful scenery to authentic cultural experiences, it’s really worth a visit!
Blogger, traveller and Chardonnay lover.
Verushka Ramasami – Spicegoddess
I am utterly crazy about the KZN Midlands area. During the Easter break I headed there for 4 days of bliss away from the ratrace. As a city girl I appreciate the stillness and slow pace of the Midlands. Besides the cooler weather all year round, the thought of fireplaces, cosy dinner spots just ooze romance. The Midlands is home to the Midlands Meander which is a route that shows off some of the hidden gems in KZN. Fresh air ,delicious organic and locally sourced food as well as various spas dotted all over the Midlands, it is very apparent when I say the Midlands feeds your body, mind and soul.
A Durban-based lifestyle blogger who loves sharing her world with the world. My blog has a focus on travel, food and culture. A tourism lecturer by day and a blogger every other minute in between.
Tami, Anton, Zac and Zoe Magnin – TazzDiscovers
The best winter destination for families is Sutherland in the Northern Cape. Honestly this was a tough one to answer because my first thought was Fouriesburg or Clarens because of their close proximity to Lesotho and the Sani Pass but Sutherland is easier to get to and is a great place to view the stars while you wait to get snowed in.
We are a family who loves to travel and explore our beautiful country. We have a goal to be on an island in September this year though so any and all opportunities are welcome 😉
Jacqui Cooks – The Jax Blog
Cape Town. I’m biased as a born and bred Capetonian, I love The Mother City all year round. When it’s super chilly one can drive to the Cedaberg or the Drakensberg to catch a glimpse of the snow. Or simply choose from the wide variety of cosy B&B’s with warm fireplaces dotted along our amazing coastline for an idyllic weekend getaway. We’re also spoilt for choice with our fab foodies options, so a day indoors is never dull. We have some of the best cuisine in the world right on our doorstep so spending a few hours indoors savouring the flavours of the Cape is not a bad way to spend a winter’s day.
A thirty-something year old Tripadvisor junkie / global gypsy / cupcakerer / chocoholic / pinup girl / drama queen / thinker / do-er and all round pleasure purveyor. Born and bred Capetonion, next stop The World! I Love experiencing new & diverse cultures…will try anything once”
Heather Mason – 2Summers
I love visiting the Kruger Park in winter. The temperature is perfect, the game viewing is great, and the crowds are lighter than in the summer high season.
I’m an American writer and photographer living a quirky life in Johannesburg.
Anje Rautenbach – Going Somewhere Slowly
As someone who loves winter and don’t mind the cold at all I’m never looking for an escape from the season’s chills. Hogsback is great in winter, even if it is cold you can still enjoy the outdoor activities, the misty mountain scenery and small unique shops and restaurants. Plus, winter can’t get any better if you stay in a self-catering cottage with a fireplace. Hogsback also has the Christmas in July festival and there’s the unpredictable possibility of maybe seeing snow.
Anje is a caffeinated South Africa travel writer and blogger exploring the world in slow motion; often forgetful, usually sarcastic and always moved by nature.
Colleen Blaine – Travel.Write.Explore
With warmer oceans and wide deserted beaches the wild coast is perfect for a winter holiday. You can curl up next to the fire at night and run around on the beach all day. Bliss.
Patrycja Oosthuizen – Travel Opulent Box
I recently travelled to the Northern Cape for the first time. I’m absolutely in love, hence this being my choice for your winter destination.
The Northern Cape offers something for everyone. Although remote, the warmth lies in the combination of unspoiled open landscapes and natural wonders. This is without mentioning the luxury on offer be it the lodges, guest houses or local attractions.
Simply imagine a sunny winter’s day in Sutherland (4 hrs drive from Cape Town). A stroll around this little town, where slow living is encouraged by cosy little cafes, art shops and museums is a must. The main attraction would be the stargazing at SALT (The South African Large Telescope).
The area offers something for everyone from hikes and cycling to bird watching and walking the “veldplant route”. There are seasonal events on offer and breath taking national parks waiting to be explored.
The evenings in the Northern Cape are meant to spend around the fire. A warm blanket, with hot chocolate or glass of wine and you are ready to star gaze. Follow this by a cosy and delicious dinner at The Blue Moon -when in Sutherland.
When deciding on a winter destination – the Northern Cape is not to be missed!
Travel Opulent Box Editor, #TravelChatSA Founder, @HashtagRadio Presenter Thur 10am-12pm. Loving to #Explore, #Engage, #Inspire people to travel in South Africa.
Lauren Austin – Portfolio
Our favourite winter destination in SA is Storm’s River Village in the Tsitsikamma forest. Tucked away at the foothills of the Tsitsikamma mountain range and surrounded by towering trees, it’s perfect for hunkering down in front of a roaring fire and cosying up against the cold. Winter here has mostly mild days and is the best time for hiking the numerous trails in the area. The waters of Storm’s River are high during the rainy season, making for thrilling water sports like blackwater tubing – yes, it’s cold, but that’s what wetsuits are for! And when it’s really too bad to go outside, you can curl up with a good book and a glass of red, surrounded by some of the Garden Route’s most spectacular scenery.
At Portfolio, we feature only handpicked accommodation in Southern and East Africa. Each listed accommodation has been visited by us – that means we’ve slept in the beds, checked out the view and dined with the owners ourselves. Check us out if you want accommodation of a high standard from people who tell it like it is.
Bridget Langer – The Wandering Bridge
My favourite winter destination in SA is the Drakensburg. I don’t really enjoy the cold, but if I’m going to be cold then I might as well be somewhere beautiful. I love seeing the snow-capped mountains in the Drakensburg and cosying up indoors somewhere with a fireplace, book, and cup of tea!
The Wandering Bridge is a travel blog covering travel adventures, tips and stories along the way. South Africa is home, but the wanderings are slowly reaching further fields.
Sara Essop – In Africa and Beyond
Golden Gate National Park in the Free State. The Free State landscape is characterized by vast, flat, open spaces but in the South-Eastern corner, the flat plains share the earth with mountains, hills and towering sandstone cliffs. At sunrise and sunset, shades of gold and ochre are cast upon these cliffs, bathing them in a golden light. This is where Golden Gate National Park gets its name from. The park is beautiful in all seasons but in winter, there is a chance of snow, making for spectacular scenery. You can stay in cosy chalets in the park and visit the Basutho Cultural Village too.
I am a passionate traveller who blogs about travel, events and experiences in South Africa and the rest of the world, focusing mainly on family-friendly places and activities. Although I have been to 45 countries thus far, I especially love showcasing my beautiful country, South Africa.
Meruschka – Mzansi Girl
Kosi Bay, KZN. I’m not much of a winter person, so Kosi Bay in winter is perfect. It’s not too hot so you can really enjoy swimming and snorkeling in the crystal clear blue water. The lake system is pristine, with heaps of birdlife & wildlife. It’s so peaceful and beautiful there, and can be easily combined with a trip to Mozambique.
Allison Foat – Cape Town Diva
It all depends on what you want to escape or experience, and with so many incredible options in this country, it’s difficult to declare any one destination as ‘the best’. I’m Capetonian though, so if I’m after some respite from a drippy and chilly wintry Cape Town, I’d head for Mpumalanga, a fairly recent discovery on my SA travels. The geography is gorgeous, it’s tropical, and the perfect anthithesis to the Western Cape climate. I’d probably head to a place like the Tomjachu lodge where I can disconnect from my tech and immerse myself in nature, go for long walks in the veld, read, write and nap, a lot.
Sine Thieme – Joburg Expat
Sodwana Bay will always remain my favorite winter destination in South Africa, if only because it was the first excursion we embarked on after having arrived in Johannesburg in March 2010. We had spent our first months settling into our house in Dainfern Valley with your typical moving-in chores, like getting hooked up to the Internet, getting to know the charming customer service reps at Eskom, and being generally schooled in the precise definition of the words “just now.” By June we felt we had earned a vacation. We hit the road and drove all the way to Sodwana Bay, where our new South African friends had booked us all a house as well as scuba diving lessons.
The beaches of Sodwana Bay are spectacular. Vast expanses of mostly deserted beach, if you don’t count the scuba boats occasionally battling through the enormous surf. Our house was situated behind a range of large dunes that made the most fabulous photo ops in the early morning mist. The area is part of the St. Lucia and iSimangaliso Wetlands on the Eastern coast of Africa just south of Mozambique. It is known for its biodiversity and offers plenty of options for exploring and adventure. While we were there, we also added on a brief stay in Hluhluwe Game Reserve, where we encountered hippos on a canoeing excursion and saw the spoor of a leopard roaming through our camp at night. I will always remember that night for the coldest I’ve ever been. Optimistically, we had booked the “dinner under the stars” and it was as spectacular as it sounds, but it was also my first introduction to below-freezing temperatures in the South African winter. I’ve never been so happy for morning to arrive. This, of course, became the pattern every winter: Go to bed early and then follow the sun around all day to soak up its warm rays.
Winter is a great time of year in most parts of South Africa, but winter in Sodwana Bay will always remain a special memory for me.
This mother of four fell in love with South Africa from the moment her family resettled to Johannesburg. Her endeavors to help baseball gain a foothold in an African township and her hair-raising encounters with lions, great white sharks, and the Johannesburg traffic police are some of the fondest memories of her life in Africa. Her only regret is never quite learning when “just now” might arrive.
Kathryn Rossiter – Becoming You
The West Coast – I love visiting the West Coast of South Africa during winter. The wild waves, the windswept beaches, the fresh sea air. Nothing beats a wintery walk on the beach (even if you have to wear an anorak) and then, when the weather gets really bad, huddle indoors next to a cosy fireplace watching the storm swirl around you. And don’t forget that the West Coast is the place to head in late July, August and September to see one of the most beautiful natural spectaculars in South Africa – the West Coast wild flowers bursting into bloom.
Kathryn Rossiter is a South African blogger and mom of 2 who writes daily over at her lifestyle & travel blog, Becoming you. Her site offers daily information, inspiration and encouragement for women and it is her place on the web to express her dual passions for writing and photography.
Jonker Fourie – Firefly the Travel Guy
The Eastern Cape’s Karoo Heartland with towns like Graaff-Reinet, Nieu-Bethesda, Middelburg, Cradock, Somerset East and Bedford.
The Karoo Heartland is the perfect winter destinations. Nice warm days allowing you to explore the historic towns, go fossil hunting, visit National Parks and natural icons like the Valley of Desolation, mountain bike the back roads, chill on sun warmed verandas and just spent time out in nature. Cold evenings are spent enjoying hot Karoo cuisine and after devouring that succulent Karoo lamb chops you cuddle up with a loved one under a mohair blanket in front of the fireplace enjoying a glass of wine or hot chocolate.
Tourism Marketer, Travel Writer, Geocacher, Road Tripper, Blogger, Husband, Father, Geek, Survivor and Amazing Race fanatic, Proudly South African
We would like to thank all of the bloggers who generously shared their responses with us! The list above should give you more than enough information to plan your next winter destination holiday in South Africa.
A big shoutout and thanks to the bloggers who sent in their responses to our question! The recommendations above should already keep your holiday plans full this year. Save big on your upcoming travel by booking cheap South African flights, so that you can splurge on a memorable winter break.