Spring holidays to put a skip in your step
Spring in South Africa (like anywhere in the world) is a wonderful time of new beginnings. Winter clothes are put away as warm days and nights (and a bit of rain) do so much to raise the spirits. Everyone, it seems, is out and about enjoying the warmer weather, feeling good just to be alive.
September and October are good months to take a short break, before the silly season starts around November and all sense of reality is distorted by the fact that Christmas is just around the corner. A mini-break will provide some good rest before the rotisserie of life propels us towards 2014.
Here are a few fabulous, new/unique/fun places to consider for a long weekend or mid-week break:
The Light House Boutique Suites recently opened up in Paarl in the Cape Winelands. This privately owned guest house consists of five gorgeous suites inspired by none other than Ralph Lauren – it's the Hamptons and Long Island in our own backyard.
Mount Grace Country House & Spa is the perfect getaway if you're visiting Gauteng and have a few days to spare (or, of course, if you live there). The villas have gorgeous wooden decks, private plunge pools and all the little extras that count. The hotel has an amazing day spa and a fantastic restaurant, and there are great nature trails and walks in the area.
Shamwari Game Reserve in the Eastern Cape has just upgraded four of its lodges, with a firm focus on being eco-friendly. Choose from Eagles Crag Lodge, Riverdene Lodge, Sarili Lodge or Long Lee Manor and enjoy the beautiful setting and exquisite wildlife that Shamwari is so well known for.
The Oudebosch Eco-Cabins in the Kogelberg Reserve in the Overberg in the Western Cape are making waves for being gorgeous to look at and kind to the environment. There are five self-catering cabins and an eco-pool in a gorgeous mountain setting. Here you can relax totally, knowing that your footprint on the Earth is minimal.
Kurisa Moya Nature Lodge in Magoebaskloof in Limpopo is a great place to recharge the batteries with a good dose of forest energy. Stay in log cabins or the farmhouse and enjoy the beautiful natural surroundings, as well as birding, biking and hiking. Alternative therapies like cranio-sacral therapy are on offer.
The Berghouse and Cottages in KwaZulu-Natal offer unpretentious accommodation in an unbelievably gorgeous setting with the Drakensberg Amphitheatre as your front garden. There are ponies and horses, and a resident hound to keep you company. There are great hikes and mountain-bike trails and every opportunity to do simply nothing at all.
Tintswalo Safari Lodge in Mpumalanga is certainly an option. This lodge recent won a Service Excellence Award in the Lilizela Tourism Awards and for good reason. Situated in the Manyaleti private concession in the Kruger National Park, the lodge consists of six suites situated along a river bed in the shade of an age-old sycamore tree.
Abalone House in Paternoster in the Western Cape is the ultimate get-away-from-it-all location on the West Coast. It has quirky (yet designer) decor, top-class service and views of the ocean – not to mention amazing food thanks to a Reuben's restaurant (by celebrated South Africa chef Reuben Riffel) opening here recently.