16Jan/15

Plan a weekend escape!

Whether you were lucky enough to arrive home totally rejuvenated or not, your holiday probably already feels like a distant memory.

It’s an intensely annoying fact that one week back in the office can somehow undo all the rest and relaxation you may have had over the December break.

As we speak you are probably sitting at your desk, wishing you could be back on that beach, daydreaming to pass the hours.

But while you can’t travel back in time, there is a way of easing the pain of having your nose to the grindstone again… Plan a weekend escape!

1. CEDERBERG

If peace and quiet is what you’re after a place which labels itself  ‘one of the most undisturbed areas in South Africa’ will surely do the trick.

Two hours from Cape Town you’ll find this vast mountain wilderness, brimming with rugged beauty.

The Cederberg boasts majestic, strange rock formations that attract photographers as well as those who prefer a more active break; the Rocklands area in particular has become a mecca for climbers from all over the world who revere the area’s sandstone.

If hiking is more your thing the stunning, cathedralesque Wolfberg Cracks offer a grand outing and there are numerous rock art sites dotted around the landscape.

2. DULLSTROOM

Between 2 to 3 hours from Johannesburg lies the historic Mpumalanga town of Dullstroom, which has become synonymous with fly-fishing.

If the cool, misty atmosphere and trout streams alone do not transport you to the Scottish highlands, another attraction is sure to do so. The Wild about Whisky bar, boasting the largest whisky menu in the southern hemisphere, offers tutored tastings.

Other activities abound including horseback riding, birdwatching and wildflower excursions.

Whatever you choose to do, Dullstroom’s climate is sure to cool your flaring stress levels.

3. WEST COAST

Travel about two hours up the West Coast from Cape Town and you’ll find quaint, white fisherman’s cottages, a windswept shoreline and the home of stunning sunsets.

Paternoster is one of the oldest fishing villages on this stretch and offers an abundance of great accommodation options, including camping in the nearby Cape Columbine Nature Reserve.

Travel slightly further north and gems like the Muisbosskerm outdoor seafood restaurant await you, offering diners a chance to feast on fresh fish with toes planted in the sand.

Elands Bay next door regularly attracts the surf crowd, presenting photographers with great picture-taking opportunities, (which may be a better option unless you are a very competent rider!)

4. PARYS

The Free State town named after the French capital has not long been known as a tourism hotspot, but things are changing.

Situated on the banks of the Vaal River, this little gem is just over one hour’s drive from Johannesburg.

The town has embraced its quirky identity, and is close enough to attract even day visitors who fancy a spot of antique shopping.

For the more adventurous weekenders, white water rafting is available on the river, as well as hot air balloon trips which allow a bird’s eye view of the unique landscape bearing the scars of the largest meteor strike on the planet as recognised by UNESCO.

If you’re not a thrill-seeker however, you can simply stroll down the main street and enjoy the various coffee shops, arts and crafts on offer.

5. SWELLENDAM

Just under three hours from Cape Town, at the foot of the Langeberg mountains, lies one of the oldest town in South Africa.
Founded in 1745 Swellendam boasts oodles of history and character.

But if historical buildings are not your thing, there is a plethora of other attractions and activities that await you.

The nearby Marloth Nature Reserve includes breathtaking hikes incorporating the fynbos-covered mountains, waterfalls and forest streams.

The Bontebok National Park, established in the early 1800s when the species was approaching extinction, lies to the south.

It also offers a chance to learn more about the Hessequa people who inhabited the region.

Should you be feeling thirsty, a nearby wine route snakes through the beautiful Breede River Valley.

 

ENW NEWS



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