When a new year comes around, we all commit to resolutions to save money and to budget better. January is also a time of setting goals and dreams for the year ahead ‒ many of which involve travel, adventure and seeing and experiencing new things. Consider these ideas to whet your appetite to experience something different this year.
Find serenity at the seaside
Hundreds of destinations beckon in South Africa for those seeking out a weekend away or longer holiday at the beach. Why not go where the crowds aren’t and seek out something unusual at the seaside this year?
Cintsa (or Chintsa), just under an hour outside of East London in the Eastern Cape, is a quaint seaside village boasting incredible scenery, charming shops and eateries (though you won’t find many) and wildlife in abundance. Swim, walk, laze on the beach, go fishing or bird watching, or simply read a good book and spend quality time with your partner, friends or family.
There is little else to do but enjoy the local surrounds. If you’re desperate for activity, however, you can take a surf lesson or hire a surf board or canoe from Buccaneers Backpackers. Cintsa Horses also offers guided horse rides, a unique way to enjoy the local beach scenery and surrounding greenery.
You can also find serenity in small seaside towns such as Arniston (or Waenhuiskrans) in the Overberg region of the Western Cape. Unlike nearby Cape Agulhas, Arniston has nothing more than beaches and dunes to walk on, a gorgeous cave to visit at low tide, traditional fishermen’s cottages, rental houses, a hotel and one very small shop. Visit outside of school holidays for a perfectly laid-back experience.
Rejuvenate in the river
Instead of a beach destination, why not seek out a different body of water? If you’re into adventure activities, you can’t beat white water rafting for the adrenaline rush and the thrilling experience of being truly immersed in nature.
The Sabie River in Mpumalanga is an ideal location for this activity, with routes and rapids suitable for both beginners and experienced rafters. Sabie River Adventures leads tours on an 8km route on the Lower-Sabie River which will provide thrills for all skills levels. From two-man inflatable rafts, you will experience the rapids, the scenic vegetation, wildlife and bird viewing (though you might prefer to keep your eyes on the water!).
For a more relaxing river experience, try kayaking the Storms River Gorge in Tsitsikamma. You’ll still get your thrills, starting from the harbour and paddling on the sea to the Storms River suspension bridge. But from there, you’ll head up the gorge to explore the Tsitsikamma National Park from this spectacular perspective ‒ with a leisurely float on a lilo and optional cliff jumping along the way.
If the weather isn’t suitable for the ocean paddling, you’ll start with a short-guided hike through the Tsitsikamma forest and over the bridge to start the kayaking from the significantly calmer river mouth.
Feel calm in the Cape
You already know you can visit Cape Point, one of Cape Town’s most popular tourist attractions, but did you know you could stay there?
Spend a night, weekend or longer at the edge of the Peninsula to enjoy wide open spaces, hours to wander the many picturesque walking paths, quiet time outside of regular visiting hours to listen out for (and maybe even spot) the legendary Flying Dutchman ghost ship, and the opportunity to view the best sunrise and sunset that Cape Town has to offer.
Cape Point is also home to some of the most secluded beaches in South Africa, where you can feel as though you are discovering the area for the first time when there is no one else around. While there, be sure to look up and all around you for the wildlife viewing opportunities and flora including fynbos indigenous to the area.
The Cape Point self-catering accommodation, Olifantsbos Guest House and Eland and Duiker Cottages, is considered among the most unique in Cape Town. Here, you can braai and sit outside in summer or warm up indoors by the fire in winter. Whenever you visit, you will enjoy the ultimate seclusion experienced by the lighthouse keepers who once lived alone on the land.