The Unexplored Places in South Africa
One of the great pleasures of travel in South Africa is to head off and discover unexplored places and off-the-beaten-path destinations. International travel is still on pause for now but that doesn’t mean you cannot explore a whole new world right here in your own country.
Get off the highway, take the byway and let the wind blow your hair back. There are so many places welcoming those seeking the most remote South Africa holiday destinations. Here you can expect peace, quiet, solitude, bright clear skies and plenty of fresh air. Take your yourself off the grid and rather spend time connecting with loved ones. Think about destinations beyond the usual. Perhaps you love visiting the bush, the coast, the mountains or just a small town. Here are some alternate options. But, you might ask, where are these secluded holiday destinations? Here are some ideas for the top 10 off-the-beaten-path travel destinations.
Game viewing in Mpumalanga
The confluence of the Komati and Crocodile Rivers is the perfect spot for a quiet break with easy access into the Kruger Park for up close game viewing. Why not base yourself at the Komati River Chalets and take leisurely excursions into the park? There are only 14 chalets which sleep 3 and also 2-bedroom cottages making them suitable for small families.
Cedarberg, Western Cape
The Cedarberg rises majestically over the vine-filled valleys of the Oliphants River and is a scenic 250kms drive from Cape Town. For a secluded but luxurious break, stay at Bushmans Kloof Wilderness Reserve and Wellness Retreat near Clanwilliam, situated on a 7,000 acres filled with stunning flora and fauna. This Western Cape wilderness haven is home to crystal-clear waterfalls, mystical rock formations and 130 rock art sites dating back 10,000 years. Dine in a secluded shepherd’s cottage or under the star-filled skies.
Panorama Route, Mpumalanga
Take in the spectacular views at Blyde River Canyon and at the appropriately named God’s Window. Then there are no less than four sets of waterfalls: Berlin, Mac Mac, Lone Creek and Lisbon Falls – all awesome sights. Bourke’s Luck Potholes are not in the road but in a canyon, caused by water erosion. Pilgrim’s Rest is a little touristy but the buildings have been carefully restored and you can get a great lunch in this old mining village. Graskop is home to the Gorge Lift which will whisk you down into the beautiful gorge for a walk on the valley floor, covered in ferns and lichen. Hazyview is a great central point to stay when exploring the Panorama Route.
St Lucia, KZN
The north coast of KwaZulu Natal is not nearly as well known as the south coast and St Lucia is a great starting point to correct this. This little town is surrounded by wilderness areas and wetlands so don’t be surprised to see hippo grazing alongside the street or vervet monkeys playing on your veranda. The iSimangaliso Wetland Park is a haven for animals and many birds including flamingo and pelican. Take a cruise on the waterways, walk the extensive boardwalk, snorkel at Cape Vidal or simply enjoy the uncrowded beaches. Also on the menu is cycling, hiking and whale watching. Isolated holidays don’t come much better than this.
The Drakensberg is the perfect candidate for secluded and isolated holiday destinations. The ‘Berg’ is it is affectionately known, is an easy drive from both Johannesburg and Durban. There are many small boutique-style hotels and chalets suitable for couples and families who love the great outdoors – and there is plenty of that. Hiking and climbing are the two top activities but for the less energetic there is much to do and of course the views are heavenly.
Western Little Karoo
Just 180 kms from Cape Town is the charming town of Montagu nestled below the Cogsmanskloof. The town is small and has a solid dose of buildings in the Cape vernacular and is dominated by a large church. Not only are there warm baths in the area but also the craggy rock formations of Bloupunt which make it sought after by climbers. Make Montagu your base and visit the interesting nearby towns of Bonnievale and McGregor, and the wonderful Breede Valley Wine Region.
Cape Garden Route
For a getaway to an isolated holiday cottage on the Garden Route, the perfect fit is the Tsitsikamma Village Inn which is not so much an inn as it is a delightful cluster of brightly painted Victorian cottages in a tiny village. There is a microbrewery, black water tubing, Segway forest tours, tree canopy tours and simple old lazing about on the secluded beach. Visit the Big Tree, kayak on the river or take a crazy bungy jump from the Bloukrans Bridge.
Plettenberg Bay, Cape
Africamps at Ingwe near Plettenberg Bay is all glamping on a beautiful and remote working farm with extensive views of the rolling green countryside. The custom-designed boutique glamping tents are spacious and fully equipped with a full kitchen, bedrooms, and a large shower. The wooden deck is a great place to chill and talking of chill, there is a wood-burning stove for great ambience on cooler nights. The nearby beaches are Blue-Flag designated and usually near empty out of season.
Route 62 Oudtshoorn
All too often we fly along parts of Route 62 without stopping. Oudtshoorn is a great stop-off point but you might well say it's not really off the beaten path. Why not stay at Berluda Farmhouse & Cottages where the accommodation is well-spaced on this typical working farm. Nearby attractions include the unique Cango Caves and scenic mountain passes. Take a short drive to De Rust and then travel the breathtaking Meiringspoort pass. Quaint De Rust abounds with cafes for lunch or better still, take a picnic as there are many scenic rest stops.
Augrabies Falls National Park, Northern Cape
Augrabies Falls, in the Northern Cape, appears to be far from everything but the drive is worth it. The accommodation is well equipped with kitchenettes and braai facilities and thankfully air-conditioned for the hot summer months. The falls are spectacular and there are many excellent viewpoints. There are great hikes and the area is also popular with climbers. Nearby is quirky Riemvasmaak via a steep pass which leads to a near lunar landscape and soothing hot springs in the valley.
These incredible holiday destinations are just a stone throw from South Africa’s bustling cities and suburban areas, so if you’re looking for an unexplored destination or somewhere off-the-beaten-track, then choose one our secluded South African holidays.