Winter getaways to beat the big chill
From beach houses to luxury lodges to Free State hideouts, there are some pretty fine spots to visit over the weekends in winter:
Tau Game Lodge, Madikwe: One of the first lodges built in the Madikwe Game Reserve, Tau is a traditional safari lodge and its spacious lounge offers an opportunity to pull up a couch after a game drive.
Abalone House, Paternoster: This delightful hotel along the West Coast promises solitude and a great crackling fire. Order a glass of port and forget the world exists as you enjoy the guest-house decor, inspired by the vibrancy of Tretchikoff.
De Oude Kraal Country Estate & Spa: About 35km south of Bloemfontein on a working sheep farm, De Oude Kraal offers a retreat to birdwatch, horse ride, tuck into a hearty meal and view a spectacular winter Free State sunset. Book a room with an open fireplace for a cosy winter vibe.
De Hoek Country Hotel, Magaliesberg: This five-star country house is constructed of sandstone. Its interiors are filled with Oregon pine and mahogany, and dressed with luxurious fabrics. Dining is the finest of crystal and silver affairs. This winter, luxuriate in one of the superior suites that come with their own fireplaces.
Granny Mouse Country House, Kwazulu-Natal Midlands: Deluxe rooms at this popular country house and spa on the Midlands Meander at the foot of the Drakensburg Mountains have great fireplaces. Warm your toes after a day of exploring the arts and crafts in the area.
Hartford House, KwaZulu-Natal Midlands: Located on an a stud farm, this colonial manor house has been lauded for its restaurant and five-star facilities. Opt for accommodation in the Ellis, Allysium, Moor and other suites and revel in their lavish furnishings as you enjoy the warmth emanating from their fireplaces.
Tswalu Kalahari: Crisp winter nights in the Kalahari offer fantastic night skies, crowded with stars. But temperatures can drop below freezing. The exclusive Tswalu Kalahari private game reserve, owned by the Oppenheimer family, offers thatched suites with open fireplaces to warm up nights when the mercury plummets.
Tenahead Mountain Lodge & Spa, Rhodes: This five-star lodge is surrounded by the Drakensberg, Witteberg and Maluti mountains, and as such luxuriates in the magnificent scenery of peaks, valleys and streams. Large, double-glazed windows in the rooms offer unmatched panoramas, while open fireplaces remove any chill from the air.
Leeuwenhof Country Lodge and Garden Spa, Limpopo: This small country lodge in the Waterberg mountains near Modimolle is romantic and tranquil. Nature and wildlife are its bounties, and there are a number of animal and adventure attractions in the vicinity. In between your exploration, relax in the soft glow of the fireplaces located in most of the suites.
Critchley Hackle Lodge, Dullstroom: Log fires cosy up the rooms at this Mpumalanga lodge, only two-and-a-half hours from Johannesburg. It’s popular for trout fishing – you can fly-fish just outside your cottage door at the edge of a lake. The red-roofed, sandstone lodge is also great for romantic winter getaways.