As the days grow longer and warmer South Africans are eagerly anticipating arguably our country’s collective favourite time of the year: December. In this country December, sometimes affectionately known as Dezember, is almost regarded as a lifestyle where people make the most of everyday to do fun things. It’s a time of great joy when many travel across the country to visit family and friends.
While December is still just under two months aways we all know how quickly the final months of the year go by before our eyes, so why not get your festive season holiday planning early? Consider some of the interesting things you can do in three of Mzansi’s provinces this December below:
Each year thousands of holidaymakers flock to various locations across the Western Cape during the December holiday season. Last year the province saw 569 693 domestic and 270 433 international arrivals at Cape Town International Airport during the month of December. The Western Cape is especially a great holiday destination to consider as families can enjoy the diverse settings of the mountains, the ocean, and smaller towns in the winelands in one trip!
If you’re planning to enjoy a December getaway in the Western Cape’s mountains you can opt for smaller, rustic cabin-like accommodations, of which the Western Cape has many stunning options for families, couples, and big groups, or book a spot in campsites like De Pakhuys in the Cederberg. “A camping trip, however, might be better suited for people who already live within a few hours of a destination or would be driving with all the necessary equipment in a bigger vehicle as you wouldn’t be able to travel via plane with tents and sleeping bags,” notes Sarah Watson, Guest Relations Manager at Kruger Gate Hotel.
Ocean-lovers can enjoy various getaway location options in the province like the Atlantic Seaboard, the West Coast region, Hermanus or in the Deep South in Kommetjie and Simon’s Town. Whether your plan is to surf, swim or lounge by the shore you’ll find that the Western Cape has plenty of seaside thrills to offer. Some activities to add to your itinerary could include sea kayaking from Three Anchor Bay beach under the Sea Point Promenade, beginner surf lessons in Muizenberg (where you’ll also find many beloved restaurants), enjoy a seaside Dubai-style Breakers Brunch at Tobago’s Restaurant, Bar and Terrace at Radisson Blu Hotel Waterfront on Saturdays or pay a visit to Muisbosskerm (voted “Top Ten Sea Views to Dine For” by National Geographic) where you’ll relish in a seafood buffet of a lifetime.
Escape the hustle and bustle of the city and delight in the natural beauty of various locations in Mpumalanga such as Bourke’s Luck Potholes, God’s Window, the Blyde River Canyon and most notably the Kruger National Park which is SA’s official World Wonder. “A visit to the Kruger National Park is at the top of many a bucket list and is a great destination for families, couples, elders and larger groups to disconnect and find both serene and thrilling experiences in the untouched landscapes of the park,” says Watson.
“Many families are flocking to the Kruger National Park for their annual holidays to see rare sightings of endangered animals, such as the African Wild Dog, as well as the iconic Big Five (lions, leopards, rhinos, elephants and African buffalo). Guests are particularly thrilled to see the park’s rhinos as their populations have been dwindling significantly over the years. Today, there are roughly 3,539 white rhinos and 268 black rhinos left in the park, with the Kruger National Park continuing to be home to the world’s largest rhino population.
“Families and visiting groups can experience the magic of the Kruger National Park in their own vehicles, making the trip an intimate affair, or they can opt to be driven in open-air safari vehicle with an expert guide who has knowledge of the park’s 517 recorded species. Aside from seeing spectacular wildlife in the Kruger, guests can also revel in reinvigorating spa treatments in the wild, marvel at the magical uninterrupted views of the park from the Kruger Gate Hotel’s viewing deck, cool off in the swimming pool, enjoy a family game of volleyball or life-sized chess and relish dinners under the African sky all in one location,” notes Watson.
Known as the Kingdom of the Zulu, KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) is a subtropical paradise beloved for its summer sunshine year-round. KZN’s capital city Durban’s Zulu name is Thekwini which means “The place where the Earth and the Ocean meet”. Holidaymakers visiting Durban over the festive season can take delight in the city’s eclectic range of leisure activities.
Thrillseekers can take the ultimate, unforgettable ride of their lives at the Moses Mabhida Stadium’s “Big Rush Big Swing”. This rope swing is the world’s only stadium swing and the biggest swing of any kind in the world! Adrenaline junkies can jump 106 metres above the world cup soccer field and swing out in a massive 220 metre arc under the stadium’s distinctive arch. If staying closer to the ground is more up your alley then pay a visit to The Wave House where you’ll find two simulated waves, known as Flow Riders, that combine aspects of surfing, snowboarding, wakeboarding and skating in one activity. If you’re not already an amateur Jordy Smith, you’ll be happy to know that the simulated waves are excellent for beginners too.
A melting pot of culture, KZN is a great destination to immerse oneself in rich parts of Mzani’s heritage. Experience a taste of Durban by trying the mouthwatering famous Indian-South African fast-food favourite, a bunny chow. Learn more about Zulu history and customs you could pay a visit to Shakaland Zulu Cultural Village, where visitors are encouraged to attend traditional ceremonies, meet inyanga (herbalists) and sangomas (healers), sample homemade beer and food and purchase handmade beaded art.
The beauty in holidaying in Mzansi over the summer months is that there is something for everyone across the country, whether you’re hitting the shores, exploring mountains, unwinding in the bush or immerse yourself in cultural activities – just pack your sense of adventure (and of course copious amounts of SPF) and enjoy!