Top 10 Places to go in the October School Holidays
With the 2020 October school holidays just around the corner, this is the ideal opportunity to get the kids out of the confines of your home after a lengthy lock-down.
Spring is in the air and it’s a great time to clear away the cobwebs before facing the last hurdle of studies prior to their year-end exams. Take a short flight to the coast for a few days of pure bliss and sea air or bundle the family into the car and head off to one of South Africa’s best holiday destinations this October. Here are our suggestions for the top 10 places to visit these October school holidays.
The Central Drakensberg is perfectly placed for families on holiday from Gauteng, Mpumalanga, the Free State and KZN Natal and is mostly an easy drive on excellent roads. There is an abundance of accommodation in breathtaking scenery with views of the towering mountains. Spend your days hiking, swimming in mountain streams, horse riding, cycling and playing golf. Sundowners are very special as the sun slips behind the towering mountains.
Addo Elephant National Park
The Addo Elephant National Park close to Port Elizabeth is the third largest of our national parks and is much underrated. It is home to the Big 5 and many of the smaller creatures including the endemic flightless dung beetle, and is well known for its large elephant population. Don't fret if you cannot get accommodation in the park as there are loads of lodges just outside the reserve to suit most budgets. Addo is also malaria-free!
The drive to Pilanesberg Game Reserve is not more than three hours from Gauteng with a selection of lodges, family cottages and even camping facilities. The terrain is hilly and the well-managed reserve offers excellent game drives, with large herds of animals waiting to be seen, including the Big 5. Most of the roads are tarred and there are a number of lakes with hides for bird and game viewing. For a special treat, why not enjoy a hot-air balloon safari over the reserve?
KZN Natal South Coast
The coastline south of Durban is an endless strip of golden beaches lapped by the warm ocean and has always been a popular destination for visitors from inland provinces – like Gauteng and Mpumalanga - and with good reason. It is an easy drive from the Highveld and seaside towns offer good accommodation and many activities beyond the beach. The recently refurbished Blue Marlin Hotel overlooking the ocean and lagoon at Scottburgh, should bring back warm memories to those who spent childhood holidays there.
Clarens in the eastern Free State is set in the foothills of the Moloti Mountains, part of the dramatic Drakensberg range. The town abounds with majestic sandstone buildings and is set around a large village square which is a hum of activity. This is an artists' retreat and quirky local galleries, craft stores, cafes and even an artisanal brewery. On weekends the square plays host to a bustling market. The nearby Golden Gate Highlands National Park is a must see and is also home to a large herd of black wildebeest.
Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Game Reserve
Established in 1895, Hluhluwe is the oldest game park in Africa. This verdant park in the heart of Zululand is home to the Big 5 with viewing hides overlooking pans and waterholes enabling visitors to observe animals at close range. The camps are well equipped and there is also accommodation on the perimeter of this beautiful park.
Kruger National Park
The national parks are slowly opening up and once again welcoming overnight guests and this is a great opportunity to visit the famous Kruger National Park, so sought after by overseas guests. The game drives are fruitful and most camps have view sites overlooking waterholes which produce a steady stream of animals and birds. With the warmer weather it is recommended to choose a camp with a swimming pool. The adjacent Sabi Sands Private Game Reserve offers a more luxurious experience, with many lodges offering tailored family safaris and kids activities.
Right in the middle of the Garden Route, Knysna is far more than just a coastal town. The large lagoon offers boat rides, tidal beaches, fishing and safe bathing. The nearby beaches at Buffels Bay and Brenton-on-Sea are secluded and safe and the vast inland forests are home to gigantic yellowwoods and other protected trees. No trip would be complete without a visit to the famous Knysna Heads where decades ago schooners fought the treacherous and turbulent waters to gain entry into the sanctuary of the placid lagoon. Knysna is also just a short drive from Plettenberg Bay and the various animal sanctuaries and adventure activities – ziplining anyone? - that dot this scenic coastal route.
Overberg Western Cape
The rush to see the flowers on the west coast is now over and the next best place to visit is the Overberg which includes coastal villages, wine and fruit farms, bustling Hermanus where the whale season is still active and the southernmost tip of the continent at Cape Agulhas. Arniston has a picture-perfect set of preserved fishing cottages and the De Hoop Nature Reserve has superb hiking and cycling trails both inland and on the extensive beaches. Kids will love the wide open spaces and farm-lifestyle, a truly restive and adventurous destination.
While Parys is officially in the Free State it is just over the border and not more than a two hour drive from most of Gauteng. This industrious town has an active tourism theme with many activities on the Vaal River including day cruises, kayaking and tractor tube rides – ideal for a family school holiday! The town is bursting with craft shops and restaurants and the nearby Vredefort Crater is the largest verified impact crater on Earth - guided tours are on offer to this important site also known as the Vredefort Dome.
These suggestions are all child-friendly and should give you and your family a memorable October half-term break. Feel free to browse our School Holidays or get in touch to plan a travel package to your October holiday destination