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 three of four.
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Bear in mind, these off-the-beaten-track places won’t stay a secret for long.
Recommended Colleen Blaine – @colblaine
- Kaapsche Hoop – Mpumulanga: This tiny little Highveld escarpment town is the perfect place for a long weekend. Full of charming paved roads, leafy avenues and broekie-lace stoeps, it has that “yet to be discovered feel about it”. There is a focus on eco and nature related activities with numerous hikes and horse trails; but a handful of delightful eateries and plenty of accommodation options make it a great little getaway destination. If anything just go and eat pancakes all weekend.Nearest Airport: Nelspruit
- Breede River Valley – Western Cape: While already a fairly well-known and visited area, famous for wine tasting, I have included it in my list of hidden gems for this year purely because it has become one of South Africa’s premier and award winning olive oil producing regions and deserved to be visited again and again. Aside from the magnificent scenery along the Breede River, towns such as Worcester, McGregor, Montagu and Robertson all play host to some of South Africa’s leading olive oil producers such as Rio Largo, Olyfberg and Willow Creek. It is also South Africa’s leading race horse breeding area. Nearest Airport: Cape Town, George.
- Karoo National Park – Western Cape: This often under-rated national park deserves a lot more attention than it gets. It has an award-winning campsite (think seriously luscious grass and broad shady trees), uninterrupted scenery, plenty of wildlife (yes some of the big 5) and a few gorgeous Karoo koppies that you can hike up and spend a few hours gazing out over the endless views. Can’t think of anything more I’d want from a nature reserve. Nearest Airport: George
Recommended by Meruschka Govender – @MzansiGirl
- Wild Coast: Visit the Wild Coast for it’s scenic beauty, rugged cliffs, quiet beaches, warm people and Xhosa culture. It’s an off the beaten track destination, where time goes slowly. My favourite place to unwind is Bulungula Lodge, a small eco lodge in a remote rvillage. It’s simple, yet lovely. The lodge is community own, there’s no cellphone signal so it’s the perfect place for a digital detox. There’s spectacular hiking in this area – one of my favourite hikes is the 2-day Coffee Bay Bulungula hike passing ‘Hole in Wall’, a rocky archway made up of shale and sandstone – an iconic site not to be missed! Nearest Airport: Margate
2. The Karoo: Visit the Karoo for it’s arty small towns, big open landscapes, starry nights and artisanal country cuisine. My favourite small towns in South Africa are here – Nieu Bethesda, Graaff Reinet and Prince Albert. Nieu Bethesda is an arty little town, famed for it’s fossil exploration centre and the Owl House, a quirky museum dedicated to the life of artist Helen Martins and it’s fossil park. Athol Fugard, one of the world’s greatest living playwrights, has a home here and two of his best know plays are set in this quirky little town. Graaf Reniet is a charming historical town within easy access to the magnificent Camdeboo National Park. Don’t leave the Karoo without feasting on it’s amazing lamb! Visit Prince Albert for it’s food – this is the Check out the weekly Saturday farmer’s market and pick up delicious olives, preserves and organic fruit or take a Karoo cooking course at African Relish.. At the musuem you can sample witblitz, a South African ‘moonshine’ made from grapes! Nearest Airport: Cape Town, George