Five “must do” winter activities
Winter is the time for comfort, good food, wine and stories beside a campfire or fireplace. That does not necessarily mean you are limited in new experiences and having fun though. At Discover South Africa, we have utilised our expertise to recommend five “must do” activities that you can experience in this magnificent country throughout winter.
Hermanus is one of the best holiday destinations for eco-tourists and nature lovers. Home of the Southern Right Whale, Hermanus is known by tourists to be the best land-based whale watching destination in the world. Whales can be viewed from aboard a boat, an airplane or by the shore.
There are many different tour operators in town that do whale watching by boat – giving visitors the opportunity to see these magnificent creatures up close. Should the whales move closer than 5 metres from the boat, movement is ceased and operators wait for the animals to move away before continuing with the cruise.
A cliff path runs along the Walker Bay coast, allowing visitors to view the whales from there whilst enjoying the scenic, tranquil beauty of the area. Hermanus is also home to the world’s only Whale Crier who blows a kelp horn when whales are spotted along the central sea route. Other activities in this beautiful coastal town include shark-cage diving, paragliding and golfing.
Namaqualand is probably one of the richest areas within the borders of South Africa. For a few brief weeks each year, the arid plains of Namaqualand are transformed by the appearance of an array of beautifully decorative wild flowers. The amount of rainfall determines the outcome of the flowering season, which begins in early August and showcases its best display during the early days of spring. The flowers bloom at their finest between 10:00 and 16:00 on warm, windless and sunny days. Because the flowers orientate themselves towards the sun, their splendour is best viewed from the north – with the sun behind one’s back.
Snow in the Matroosberg
Known as the highest mountain in the Boland, the Matroosberg serves as a popular attraction during the winter months. Beautifully covered in white snow, the peaks attract visitors from all over the country. This incredibly beautiful landmark is ideal for group visits as it offers teambuilding activities with breathtaking views, and additionally boasts the availability of accommodation and meals. Activities for families as well as bigger groups range from 4×4 drives, quad biking, fishing, ice climbing, abseiling, cherry picking and farm tours – giving ample opportunity to take in the fascinating views and experience new forms of excitement.
Sardine Run 2012
The sardine run is the world’s greatest marine migration which usually runs from May until July. The run occurs when a current of cold water containing millions of individual sardines heads north from the Agulhas Bank up to Mozambique, where it leaves the coastline and goes further east into the Indian Ocean. This event attracts more than 100 000 people to the South coast each year, with visitors including bird watchers, marine-life enthusiasts, amateur or highly experienced fisherman, divers and snorkelers – proving that everyone can join in on what has been described as one of the greatest marine spectacles on earth.
The Kruger National Park
The Kruger National Park is where nearly 2 million hectares of unrivalled bio-diversity fuses with historical sites – giving you the privilege of experiencing the true essence of Africa. This world-renowned park offers a wildlife experience that ranks among the best in Africa. Safari operators offer clients the opportunity of combining an African hunting safari with a photographic expedition when touring the popular nature reserve.
With over 1 million tourists visiting the park to experience the South African big 5 and all that this vast area has to offer, it is safe to say that the nature reserve is a highly popular tourist destination. The majestic animals of the Kruger Park can be viewed throughout the year, but are generally more prone to appear during the dry winter months. This would also be the best time for visitors interested in hunting, though it is advised to make bookings well in advance in order to avoid disappointment.
Here is a list of essential items for your winter activities
- Extra warm clothing
- Field guide book (fauna and flora)
- Sunglasses and sun block
- Dry clothes and shoes
- Wellingtons (gumboots) and gloves
Remember to be mindful that cold temperatures present your body with a challenge and serious health hazards if you are inadequately prepared for your outdoor activities. The climate can often cause a sudden drop in temperature, so be prepared with extra warm clothing that will allow you to enjoy the winter optimally. This, however, should not cause your interest to waver as participating in these “must do” winter activities can ignite a feeling of intimacy with nature that transforms the bite of winter into an unbelievable experience.
- Whale Away Guest House
- On The Vermont Guest House
- Nautilus Cottage
- Pelagus Guest Lodge
- Abalone Lodge
- Olive Tree Country House
- Ocean Eleven Guesthouse
- Misty Waves Boutique Hotel
- Fisherhaven Travellers Lodge