Great winter breaks

Winter is upon us, and with many people looking to take a mid-year break, we selected a few enjoyable winter getaways…from day trips to longer sojourns. So relax, light a fire and get your feet up, or take a cosy winter drive to some amazing places.

 

Lion & Safari Park

For those who live in Gauteng, North West or close by, the Lion & Safari Park, now located within the Cradle of Humankind complex, offers an ideal day-long getaway that will take your mind completely off your daily stresses.

The Lion & Safari Park, is well-known to both local and foreign tourists, having become an amazing experience for all over the last 50 years. Having moved to a brand new world-class facility in the Cradle of Humankind in July 2016, the Lion and Safari Park offers guests an incredible day out. Immersed in the beautiful natural surroundings of the area, guests can experience guided game drives, safari drives or self-drives. Now is the time to explore and discover the untamed natural bushveld.

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Guests will be able to engage in the incredible experience of hand feeding a selection of animals including the graceful giraffes. The opportunity to interact with a multitude of animals, including cheetah, is also available at the park.  Guided safari drives are one of the biggest attractions at the park, allowing visitors to experience a plethora of wildlife within their natural habitat. The tour options vary in length, depending on your time schedule from 45-minute guided drives to 3-hour safari drives. Self-drive is also now available, allowing you to drive your own vehicle through the lion and wild dog enclosures.

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Guests can also enjoy a scrumptious meal at one of the top-class restaurants while at the same time viewing various wildlife species grazing and drinking in their natural habitat. No visit to the park will be complete without a stop at the Wetlands Bar. The view overlooking the wetlands is nothing short of breath taking.

Nestled amongst the foothills of the magnificent Magaliesberg Mountains, a mere 10-minute drive from Lanseria Airport, off the scenic R512 towards Hartbeespoort dam, the park is within the Cradle of Humankind area, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The new location, now boasting 600 hectares of open land, allows the animals more space to roam freely.

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A day visit to the park provides the perfect opportunity and platform for schools and children to learn about the animals and various research programmes that the Lion and Safari Park are involved in.

 

Apart from being a world-class tourist destination, the Lion and Safari Park can also turn your next conference, team-building or other event into something unique. Great packages are available, also for the first time on packages that include adventure activities such as river rafting, quad biking and abseiling. A shopping experience also awaits in the form of the ‘5 dome shopping experience’, while there is a vast selection of unique handcrafted curios, crafts and clothing. The park is open 365 days a year, and is certainly an experience not to be missed.

 

For more information:

Tel Lion Park at +27 (0) 73 083 2358 or +27 (0) 87 1500 100; Email catherine@lionpark.com.

 

Premier Hotels & Resorts

Whether you want to unwind amongst wildlife, take a breather by the beach or mellow out in the mountains, Premier Hotels & Resorts offers unique getaways in some of South Africa’s most stunning locations.

Looking for a haven from the hustle and bustle? Head to Premier Hotel Himeville Arms, located on the tree-lined main road of the quaint village of Himeville in KwaZulu-Natal. This country inn provides 17 comfortable rooms furnished with antiques that reflect its 100-year-old heritage, whilst being equipped with all the modern amenities required by today’s travellers.

It is an ideal base from which to explore the surrounding natural beauty and attractions of the Southern Drakensberg, such as hiking trails past rocks adorned with San art, the popular Himeville Museum and the River Glen Cheese Farm – a foodie favourite. After a thirsty day of sightseeing, pop by the hotel’s historic pub for a cold beverage and a bite to eat.

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A mere 12km away is the newly refurbished Premier Hotel Sani Pass which opened mid-May. This 4-star resort boasts a variety of entertainment, facilities and outdoor adventure activities, including a nine-hole golf course, heated swimming pool and bowling green. The resort is renowned for its hiking and biking trails, horse rides up the mountain to Lesotho and river fishing. Lodgings range from standard and executive rooms to suites – all of which feature spectacular views of the Ezemvelo Nature Reserve.

For a getaway that offers game viewing and true South African hospitality, pick Mpongo Private Game Reserve. Only 35km from the popular coastal city of East London, the reserve allows for a unique blend of luxury and wildlife experiences on more than 3,500 hectares of conservation land. Home to a multitude of wildlife, from elephant, lions and buffalos, to hippos, giraffes and birds, guests can explore the reserve with a guide on a 2 ½ hour game drive. Alternatively, horseback safaris as well as bush walks are provided for the more adventurous. Guests can choose to stay in various lodges within the reserve where wildlife wonder comes standard.

If tranquillity is top of mind when making travel plans, Premier Hotel Knysna – The Moorings is the ideal escape. The resort, situated on the banks of the Knysna Lagoon, offers guests luxury accommodation in a serene setting. This piece of paradise enables guests to enjoy a wide range of activities such as exploring the Garden Route National Park, enjoying a sunset paddle on the Knysna Lagoon or indulging in a Zipline Tour of the Tsitsikamma. Within the nearby town, craft shops, flea-markets and cosy cafés beckon.

Deneys Swart, Resorts Operations Manager for Premier Hotels & Resorts says: “With resorts in eco-friendly, marine and mountain settings, we offer a variety of luxury accommodation in exciting destinations for the leisure and business travellers”.

For more information:

Tel 086 111 5555; or go to their Website at premierhotels.co.za.

 

Lighthouse Accommodation

For a truly unique winter-getaway experience, what could be more fun than staying in one of the 45 lighthouses along South Africa’s 3,000km long shoreline? Many of these you can simply visit for the day, with some of them surrounded by or near nature reserves and other attractions. A number of them also offer self-catering accommodation in what used to be the lighthouse keepers’ cottages. All of them are located in some of the most beautiful and dramatic settings.

Few experiences can be more rewarding than staying in a lighthouse keeper’s cottage surrounded by dramatic coastal scenery overlooking the ocean. The experience also offers a nostalgic peek into a proud history of a bygone world that paradoxically somehow endures to this modern age. At the same time it offers a sense of adventure, exposure to the great outdoors, spectacular settings incorporating sea and land, recounting real life and death dramas, and a close-up view of the workings of an indispensable service.

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Among the lighthouses one can actually stay in are those at Cape Columbine near the West Coast town of Paternoster; Danger Point lighthouse near Gansbaai south of Cape Town; Cape St Blaize lighthouse in Mossel Bay on the Southern Cape coast; Great Fish Point lighthouse at Port Alfred in the Eastern Cape; and the North Sand Bluff lighthouse at Port Edward in KwaZulu-Natal.

Only seventeen of the lighthouses are still manned following the automation of South Africa’s lighthouses. Those that are manned generally offer guided tours of the lighthouse.

While visiting or staying at a lighthouse you can climb the stairs to the lookout and light platform at the top, or learn about the history of the lighthouse and the tragic shipping disasters of the area. Some have coffee and memorabilia shops. And the surrounding areas of all offer much to do.

For instance, Cape Columbine lighthouse is situated on Castle Rock, a windswept headland in the Columbine Nature Reserve, while the historic and picturesque nearby fisherman’s village of Paternoster offers nice food and plenty to do. For day visitors there is a lovely boardwalk from Slangkop lighthouse along the beach for those wanting to explore the Marine Protected Area of Table Mountain National Park in which it stands.

The Cape Point lighthouse sits spectacularly atop a rocky peninsula of sheer cliffs surrounded by a restless sea where the Atlantic and Indian Oceans meet. It is within the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve which is part of the larger Table Mountain National Park, offering delightful hikes, a superb restaurant, game watching and a shipwreck trail. While staying in one of the cottages of Danger Point lighthouse, you can explore the surrounding reserve and learn about the tragic fate of the HMS Birkenhead. At Cape Agulhas lighthouse you can visit the lighthouse museum.

Cape St Blaize lighthouse at Mossel Bay sits atop an awesome cliff with views of the coast and the sea that will keep you entertained and in awe. Below the lighthouse is a cave which is an important archaeological site, while the lighthouse is also the starting point of an awesome cliff-face hiking trail with breath-taking views. Great Fish Point lighthouse has views of some incredible sand dunes that are worth climbing. The list of unique experiences goes on.

For more information:

Tel +27 (0)21 449 2400 or email tourism@transnet.net.