There are only a few more months to go before the festive season when South Africans will be jetting off or hitting the road for their long-awaited holidays. But why wait? Shoulder season travel, if you opt to keep it local, is attractive for many reasons, including affordability.
Read on to discover why a shoulder season escape is highly recommended and allow yourself to be inspired by some local destination ideas.
1. Lower prices and discounts
Since there are fewer international tourists, you can expect significantly lower prices when booking a local getaway during the spring shoulder season. Along with reduced rates, many accommodation providers get particularly enthusiastic about offering discounts to potential guests during these quieter times. For instance, hotel management group, BON Hotels has just kicked off its #BONShakeItOff campaign, encouraging Saffas to “shake off” the winter blues with a blissful spring holiday and the savings that come with it.
“Deals and discounts on accommodation and dining experiences are being offered at our participating BON Hotels and Lodges,” explains CEO Guy Stehlik. “For example, Queen’s Hotel Oudtshoorn by BON Hotels is knocking 25% off its usual room rate, and if guests sit down to an evening meal at The Colony Restaurant, they’ll shake off 50% of the value of their bill for dinner the following night.
“Other participating BON Hotels with their own exceptional shoulder season deals include BON Hotel Bloemfontein, Grand Daddy Boutique Hotel by BON Hotels, Royal Palm Hotel & Apartments by BON Hotels, Mountain View International Hotel by BON Hotels, Shishangeni by BON Hotels and BON Hotel Rustenburg,” he adds.
Shop around and see how much you can save! Remember, booking your accommodation directly (via the hotel or lodge website) will almost always be the cheapest option and could involve a further upfront discount.
2. More space, fewer crowds
After upholding social distancing since start of the pandemic, the thought of crowds can be daunting for many. If you’d prefer to avoid the rush, especially if you have your heart set on visiting a popular tourist “hotspot”, such as Durban or Cape Town, shoulder season travel is the ideal solution.
If you’d like to steer clear of crowds completely then venturing off the beaten track is the way to go. Follow the #MyKasiMyDorpie hashtag on social media for inspiration about South Africa’s hidden gems and why they’re worth a visit.
3. It’s a great time for game viewing
Keen for some game viewing and some downtime in the bush? Then you can’t go wrong with a visit in the spring. The earlier in the season the better to take advantage of the dry, sparse terrain, making it easier to spot wildlife from a distance.
If you’re a birding enthusiast, aim for a visit in the late spring or early summer, following the first rains. This is birdwatching “prime time” with warmer temperatures and flowers in bloom drawing a variety of species from far and wide.
4. Whale-watching at its best
Whale-watching season in the Western Cape starts in June, with plenty of opportunities to spot migratory southern right or humpback whales until the end of October. Seeing these massive creatures breach is an incredible experience. Why not amplify this by attending the Hermanus Whale Festival, from 30 September – 2 October 2022, which offers a range of activities for every kind of traveller. Think live music, fun runs, markets, nature talks, street parades and treasure hunts for the kiddies.
5. Milder temperatures
The intense summer or winter temperatures in certain provinces can make sightseeing and certain activities uncomfortable. The milder temperatures in spring or autumn allow for doing more for longer and in more comfort. But don’t forget to slap on the sunscreen regardless what time of the year it is!
Local gems to visit
Looking for local travel inspiration? Even if you have a “go-to” domestic destination, now’s the time to mix it up and head somewhere new. Here are some top picks:
Known as the Ostrich Capital of the World and located in the Klein Karoo, Oudtshoorn is sandwiched between the Swartberg and Outeniqua mountains. It promises travellers a tranquil escape and the opportunity to investigate various natural wonders. The town is chockfull of ostrich farms and is home to the magnificent Cango Caves, so it’s easy to keep busy for days on end – plus it’s a great family destination.
You’ll find the village of Magaliesburg in the shadow of the Magaliesberg mountain range, making it an ideal escape for Jo’burgers, in particular, as it’s just a short drive from the city. Here, you can relish the crisp, clean air and breath-taking views, grab a craft beer at Black Horse Brewery or embark on a hot air balloon ride for a different perspective of the landscape.
The capital of the Free State, meaning “Fountain of Flowers” in Afrikaans, Bloemfontein is a hotspot for history buffs and nature lovers alike. Explore the Anglo Boer War Museum, the National Museum and visit Naval Hill. True to its name, the city is awash with beautiful flowers – and roses, specifically – throughout the spring and summer months. It’s a picture-perfect destination guaranteeing beautiful holiday photos.
One of South Africa’s oldest towns, Swellendam is, in many ways, the Western Cape’s best-kept secret. It’s packed to the brim with heritage sites and chances to immerse yourself in the great outdoors. Leisurely bike rides, long, scenic hikes and picnics in the park – it’s ideal for a laid-back family holiday or a no-frills romantic retreat to reconnect with nature and each other.
There are so many reasons to choose a shoulder season holiday, as you can see. No matter where in South Africa you wind up, this could be the break you need to help you push through until the year-end celebrations begin.