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Saturday, June 15, 2024

The Great (Weekend) Escape

South Africa is bursting with beauty! We’ve hand-picked some special places to give you the option of a memorable experience be it at a spa, the beach, at a wine estate or in the bush. We are really spoilt for choice.

Setting out from Durban

The Oyster Box

The Oyster Box

Umhlanga, just 15 minutes from King Shaka Airport

For shameless luxury, The Oyster Box’s reputation precedes it, and deservedly so. Book in for spa pampering and hammam session, come strictly for the food or enjoy a drink and the views. There are some special offers and packages, too. For instance, The Oyster Box’s “On the Rocks” offering includes three nights stay plus a guided oyster and mussel-picking session with champagne and oysters on the beach. You could also participate in the Curry Masterclass where you will accompany The Oyster Box’s chef on a spice-buying outing to the Spice Emporium and learn to make an Oyster Box-worthy curry.

Website: www.oysterboxhotel.com | Tel: 031 514 5000

The Gorge Private Game Reserve

The Gorge Private Game Farm and Spa

Port Shepstone, 90 minutes from Durban and two hours from King Shaka International Airport

On the edge of the Oribi Gorge Nature Reserve is this owner-run boutique lodge with spectacular views of the eponymous gorge. Pencil in a game drive or vulture excursion on your weekend stay – the Gorge has antelope including the oribi, blackback jackal, leopard and lynx as well as the indigenous Samango monkey, plus extensive birdlife. For the romantics, the bush picnic on the edge is a must-do. For thrill-seekers, try the 4.5km zip line across the Oribi Gorge – the longest, fastest and highest in Africa. For some real downtime simply be pampered at the Clivia Spa.

Website: www.thegorge.co.za | Tel: 039 687 4000

Setting out from Cape Town

Quoin Rock Wine Estate

Quoin Rock and other wine estates

Stellenbosch, half an hour’s drive from the airport

If you live in one of the most beautiful cities in the world – Cape Town, of course – but feel like a change of scenery and a weekend away, look no further than Stellenbosch. ‘Stellies’ is crammed with world-standard wineries (think Spier or Zewenwacht), quaint architecture and quality tourist accommodation with hop-on, hop-off wine tour buses (or trams) in each town. A two-day pass for the Vine Hopper is your best option in Stellenbosch, so that you can pick all the estates you’d like to visit and still get home in one piece. Speaking of home… rest your head at the luxurious Quoin Rock winery’s manor house and dine at the renowned Gate restaurant on the estate, where luxuries such as sauna, hair and beauty treatments, chauffeured rides and a private chef can all be arranged. Bliss!

Website: www.quoinrock.co.za | Tel: 021 888 4750

Solms Delta

Solms Delta Wine Estate

Franschhoek, about 90 minutes out of Cape Town

If you’re not into merlot or cab sav but can still appreciate the beauty of a wine estate, a trip to Solms Delta is a must. The estate made headlines when it transformed so that by 2017 workers owned 50% of the estate. The transformation was not merely superficial, as the farm tours offered on the estate will demonstrate. The farm is all about protecting heritage, whether that’s archaeological sites, cultural artefacts or near-extinct plants used in indigenous cooking. Stay over at nearby Boschendal, which offers loads of activities including farm tours, horse riding and MTB trails. The Franschhoek wine tram’s several routes will ferry you to any other locations you may still want to explore.

Solms Delta website: www.solms-delta.co.za | Tel: 087 701 9734

Boschendal website: www.boschendal.com | Tel: 021 870 4200

 South Africa is bursting with beauty! 

Setting out from Johannesburg

Thaba eco hotel

Thaba Eco Hotel

In the Klipriviersberg Game Reserve in the South of Johannesburg

So close it’s not even technically outside of Jozi, Thaba Hotel is an eco haven in the concrete jungle. Book your staycation in the bushveld knowing that nature has been at the heart of planning and managing this luxury boutique hotel. For instance, the gardens have been xeriscaped to minimise the need for irrigation. Your eco drive will offer the chance to see zebra, springbok, black wildebeest, blesbok, duiker and steenbok as well as black-back jackal, caracal and black eagles, but also focus on trees, plants, grasses and animals and their role in the ecosystem. Needless to say, the spa is world-class and your tastebuds will tingle at the fine dining Kraal Restaurant.

Website: www.thabahotel.co.za | Tel: 010 822 1874

Black Rhino Game Lodge

Pilanesberg Game Reserve, Rustenburg in North West Province  

The Pilanesberg Game Reserve, set within the crater of an ancient volcano situated in the ecologically rich transition zone between the Kalahari and the Lowveld, is a well-maintained national treasure offering big five game viewing just two hours from Jo’burg. There are accommodation possibilities inside the reserve to suit all budgets, but for a total spoil, visit Black Rhino. It offers exceptional catering, accommodation, expert game drives and walks as well as superior bird viewing. You’ll return sure you’ve been on another planet, not driving distance from the big smoke.

Website: www.blackrhinogamelodge.com | Tel: 083 297 5020 / 011 516 4367

Author Margot Bertelsmann

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