We asked South Africa’s most influential bloggers to name their favourite hidden gems in South Africa, ranging from iconic nature reserves to sleepy little towns. This is part one of four.
Copy supplied by Cheapflights.
Bear in mind, these off-the-beaten-track places won’t stay a secret for long.
Recommended by Andrew Brauteseth – @guy_with_camera
- Sedgefield: The Garden Route is a favourite drive for South Africans and international visitors and Plettenberg Bay and Kysna are some of its most picturesque destinations. One of my favourite stops along the way is Sedgefield. It’s surrounded by dense natural forests and meandering beaches dotted with some of the coastline’s most epic surf spots. Nearest Airport: George
2. Elgin Valley: Elgin Valley is one of the most under-marketed wine areas of the Western Cape. It hosts some of South Africa’s award winning wine estates, adrenaline-inducing mountain bike tracks and remote getaway cabins which are all tucked away in a natural paradise. With the valley being slightly less polished than nearby Stellenbosch and Franschhoek, it retains a rustic farm community charm. Nearest Airport: Cape Town
3. McGregor: McGregor feels like it’s built on rose-quartz. Something about arriving in this town just makes you feel good. Amongst heritage buildings and a local history percolating with myth and spook stories you’ll find a donkey sanctuary and a restful escape.Nearest Airport: Cape Town
Recommended Sarah Duff – @SarahDuff
- Northern Kruger: The northern section of Kruger is the least-visited part of the park – most people prefer the south for its accessibility and wildlife density. The north, on the other hand, may have less big game, but it contains three quarters of the park’s diversity in just 1% of its area. What you’ll find are an amazing variety of birds, trees and plants, herds of elephant and buffalo, as well as beautiful landscapes – valleys of giant baobabs, fever tree forests and dramatic gorges – all without the crowds. Nearest Airport: Skukuza
2. Northern Cape: Our biggest and least populated province is also our most underrated. If you love big open spaces, spectacular desert landscapes, night skies awash with stars and carpets of wildflowers in spring, the Northern Cape should be on your list. I love it for the barren beauty of the Richtersveld, canoeing on the Orange River and a wonderful guest farm called Papkuilsfontein near Nieuwoudtville, which is all about Karoo hospitality at its best. Nearest Airport: Upington
Recommended by Melanie Van Zyl – @Melanie_vanZyl
1. Leshiba Wilderness, Soutpansberg: There are plenty of accommodation options at this incredible spot of lush bushveld beauty. You can hike and bike around the gorgeous mountainous property and the Soutpansberg area is a biodiversity hotspot, home to more tree species – 350 species of flora – than any other ecosystem in South Africa, including Kruger. It’s also a spiritual spot, home to the Venda culture. It is an absolute sanctuary. Read more about Soutpansberg.Nearest Airport: Johannesburg
2. Papkuilsfontein, Northern Cape: The wide open spaces of the sparse Karoo never fail to stir my soul and the authentic farm feel of Papkuilsfontein is incredible. There are several self-catering options on the farm, but do yourself a favour and order the home-cooked karoo feast and eat it by a candle light, it makes for a getaway you’ll remember and recommend to everyone. Nearest Airport: Upington
3. Sable Hide, Kruger National Park: Come nightfall, this bird hide can be rented as a wild, off-the-grid bush camp with no electricity or luxuries. Elephants are known to slurp from the water just metres away from the hide and you’ll be sure to hear hyaenas howling as you tuck in for the night. Nearest Airport: Skukuza