Hidden Places in South Africa
We’ve been cooped up for months and can’t wait to travel again. Good news, some hotels are slowly opening for us to explore our home provinces at leisure. However, to avoid the crowds and stick to social distancing rules, we may have to avoid popular haunts we’ve been yearning to visit.
Fortunately for us South Africans, there are hidden gems in all our provinces that are just waiting to be re-discovered. Our country has an abundance of secret places for travellers to escape the “touristy” hotspots and take the road less travelled.
The easiest way to avoid the crowds is to plan a road trip with family or friends who are craving the great outdoors and open skies. Pack a picnic basket or look out for some of the fun roadside stalls and then find a spot where you can relax at your leisure. Don't forget masks and hand sanitisers! You might want to stay overnight to extend your escape – rest assured that hotels are adhering to the necessary protocols to keep you safe.
You will be pleasantly surprised by the natural beauty of our provinces that we have previously missed while rushing to get to our desired destination. Take it easy, smell the fresh air, feel the sun on your skin and listen to the sounds of nature. Here are just a few ideas that will appeal to couples, friends and families.
Cape Town hidden gems
Cape Town, or the Mother City, offers innumerable options. Why not take a drive through to Muizenberg to see the artistic Beach Huts which overlooks the spectacular Atlantic Ocean and perhaps enjoy a picnic on the beach.
If you are adventurous and want to stretch your legs and explore, then Woodstock Cave is a great option. It is easily accessible from Devil's Peak and is a fantastic spot to enjoy a sundowner with the magnificent views of the city bowl and Table View!
If you are an avid foodie who would like to satisfy your sweet tooth, Charly's Bakery is open – so pop into the shop on Canterbury Street and pick up some yummy cupcakes and cookie treats made by the “Cake Angels.” In search of a great beach that’s not too crowded? Beta Beach is a tiny and secluded beach tucked between boulders, next to popular Oudekraal. What’s great about this beach is that it’s dog friendly, so you can enjoy the day out with your fur kids too.
Hidden gems in the Western Cape
Take a slow drive to Franschhoek and then over the spectacular pass to the Theewaterskloof Dam for a picnic lunch. Make the return journey via Elgin with its famous farm stalls and then down the breathtaking Sir Lowry's Pass. A longer route suitable for a night stop near Hermanus is via charming Betty's Bay, the Harold Porter Nature Reserve and the Stony Point Penguin Colony. Never heard of them? Now you have. A great spot to stay would be The Marine Hermanus.
The Cape West Coast is also famous for its wildflowers, which blanket the landscape in vivid splashes of colour during the springtime. For lovers of Cape heritage, a trip to Tulbagh is a must. The charming town is one large outdoor museum of Cape architecture, its buildings lovingy restored after the famous 1969 earthquake. A little further afield is the scenic Cederberg, which is famous for its hiking trails and expansive views. A perfect place to stay in the Cederberg would be the luxurious Bushmans Kloof Wilderness Reserve and Wellness Retreat.
One of the Western Cape’s most scenic road trips is Route 62, famous for being the longest wine route in the world. This iconic road will take you through Robertson and Montagu plus numerous Little Karoo towns with hidden tales from the past.
Meander from wine country to undulating wheat fields and then olive orchards. Swellendam is a hidden tourist haven reached by twisting mountain passes, and Oudsthoorn is home to the famous Cango Caves and a child-friendly ostrich farm.
Beautiful hidden places in Johannesburg
Egoli is the commercial hub of South Africa and underneath its hard surface there are some fantastic places to explore. The Wilds, just north of the city, lives up to its name with shady trees and walks over the kopjes which enjoy expansive views towards the Magaliesberg Mountains.
Nearby is Munro Drive, which offers spectacular views of the 'urban jungle' as the city is described. Another beautiful hidden place in Joburg is the Cradle of Humankind – a World Heritage Site which gives visitors a real and pictorial insight into the early origins of human life.
From both Pretoria and Johannesburg, Muldersdrift is an easy drive with plenty of farm stalls and small eateries with tables laid out under trees. Try the local specialities, which include boerie rolls, stuffed vetkoek and koeksisters which are absolutely delish! The Nirox Sculpture Garden is great way to spend the day outdoors and in the sunshine with family and friends.
Hidden gems in Durban and KwaZulu-Natal
Durbanites too have many secret places. North of the city there is an abundance of game parks and the famous St Lucia Wetlands while south of the city there are many sunny villages with uncrowded beaches. No trip to the South Coast should miss the forested Oribi Gorge with its teeming wildlife and abundant birdlife. The Drakensberg is just hours from the city with jaw-dropping views and hiking trails for all ages. Marble Baths is a hike not be missed.
If time is limited, then Karkloof, with its surrounding waterfalls and forests is much closer to Durban and can be reached via the scenic Valley of a Thousand Hills.
Hidden places in South Africa to add to your bucket list
For those residing in Mpumalanga, there is an abundance of game parks including the Kruger National Park and the Panorama Route which is one of South Africa's most beautiful routes taking in the Blyde River Canyon, Pilgrims Rest, the breathtaking God's Window, Mac Mac Falls and the newly opened Graskop Gorge Lift, which whisks you down to the forest floor to meandering walks amongst the towering trees.
Wherever you are in South Africa there is a drive through beautiful countryside and just a few stops along the way will connect you with the friendly locals where good food and folklore will keep you entranced. Go out and explore our amazing country. And stay safe at all times .