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Joburg Winter Getaways

By Bidvest Bank
With summer in the past and winter now upon us, you’d be forgiven for wanting to hole up at home and snuggle up in front of the fire. But if you’re feeling restless, there are still plenty of places to visit in our beautifully diverse country even when the weather’s cold. In this first part of a three part series, we’ve compiled a list of eight of our favourite winter getaways close to Johannesburg:

1. Clarens: Only a three hour drive from Joburg, temperatures in Clarens get even colder than Jozi itself – but luckily most hotels, guesthouses and self catering spots are well equipped for this. Snuggle up in front of a roaring fire, sip a glass of red wine, or go on a brisk walk outside to breathe in the fresh country air. For a small town, Clarens has a surprisingly large range of accommodation options to suit all budgets. Either stay in the town itself close to art galleries, restaurants and the town square, or stay on farms just outside town where you’re in more tranquil natural surroundings. 

2. Parys: This small town alongside the Vaal River in the Northern Free State is very popular during the summer months with many boating and watersport activities on offer. But that doesn’t mean it’s a no-go for winter: as a weekend break destination you can still enjoy views of the Vaal while keeping warm indoors. The town also offers a choice of art galleries, antique shops, pubs, delis, spas, restaurants – and even three breweries in the area – that make it the perfect option for a Joburg weekend winter break. 
More info: www.parys.co.za

3. Cullinan: This small diamond mining town east of Pretoria centres around the quirky Oak Avenue, filled with bric-a-brac shops and restaurants that are perfect for wandering down on a cold winter’s day. The Jan Harmsgat se Agterplaas is a quirky wedding and function venue that also features a barnyard theatre, while if you’re in the mood for history, take a tour of the working Cullinan diamond mine, where the world’s biggest diamond was found in 1905. 

4. Northern Drakensberg: Only three hours’ drive from Johannesburg, the Northern “Berg” is an ideal Joburg weekend break destination. It borders Lesotho between the Free State and KwaZulu Natal, so you’re treated to views of dramatic sandstone mountains flanked by forests, rivers and caves – making it ideal for hikers, mountain bikers and other nature lovers. There’s lots of accommodation to choose from here too, from basic self-catering units to campsites to upmarket mountain resorts. 

5. Sabie: The small town of Sabie is situated in a valley on the escarpment of the Drakensberg in Mpumalanga. Because of its location, you’ll be spoilt with natural beauty, as you’re surrounded by forests, waterfalls and natural attractions on the nearby Panorama Route such as Bourke’s Luck Potholes, Mac-Mac Falls, Blyde River Canon and more. After a day spent playing golf, kloofing, hiking, abseiling or mountain biking, cozy up in one of the area’s many resorts, hotels, bed and breakfasts or guest houses.  

6. Dullstroom: Renowned for its trout fishing and flyfishing, Dullstroom is located amid rolling hills halfway between Johannesburg and the Kruger Park – so you’d be forgiven for thinking you’re in rural Scotland rather than in the heart of Mpumalanga. The town is an easily accessible weekend getaway for the whole family, especially if you’re into fishing, but also for activities like horse riding, mountain biking or hiking. For accommodation, consider staying in a self-catering cottage on one of the many trout farms in the area. 

7. Game Reserves: Everyone knows that game viewing is best during winter – but you also don’t have to head all the way to Kruger to see it. Closer to Joburg, a number of locations offer the big game experience without the travel time involved (and without the risk of malaria, too). The Waterberg district  in Limpopo and Pilanesberg National Park feature a number of game reserves (both public and private) that are ideal for a Joburg mid-winter break where you can view the Big Five in their natural habitat.

8. Muldersdrift: Though it’s barely outside of Joburg, you’ll feel as if you’re far from the bustling city once you hit Muldersdrift in the heart of the Cradle of Humankind. There are plenty of weekend spots to escape to in this area, including luxury hotels, guest houses and spa resorts. Worth noting are two restaurants in the area – Le Sel @ The Cradle and Roots restaurant at the Forum Homini hotel – as well as Gilroy’s Brewery, a festive outdoor brewery and pub that’s a great place to spend an afternoon. 

Look out for the next city in our three part series of winter getaways in South Africa. By keeping your travels local and closer to home, you’ll inevitably save more. If you’re looking for a spot for those extra savings, consider opening a Bidvest Bank Notice Account and earn higher interest rates on your money. Find out more.