Towards the end of last year, Cheapflights, a travel search site that compares flights, hotels and rental cars, noted that searches for domestic flights were up by 294% when compared to the pre-pandemic period. Accommodation establishments around the country have also noted that even though the Omicron variant may have deterred or restricted international travel, locals have not been deterred from travelling domestically.
“While we were initially worried about bookings towards the end of last year, we were soon put at ease when we saw how many locals were interested in staying with us,” says Clinton Thom, General Manager of Radisson Blu Hotel Waterfront. “Our restaurant also reached maximum capacity most nights over these last few weeks and rooms have been fully booked.”
Clearly, South Africans are more eager than ever to spend their money locally. And, if you are looking for your next big South African holiday, we have a few that you should definitely add to your list.
The Kruger National Park
A trip to South Africa’s biggest game reserve is probably on many South Africans’ travel list. It is one of our most popular safari destinations. The Kruger National Park is home to some of the most diverse wildlife and life forms on the continent. It is also home to many historical and archaeological sites. Visitors to the Kruger Park can opt to stay within the Park at SANparks accommodation. If you are looking to spoil yourself a bit though, you can try the highly rated Kruger Shalati: The Train on the Bridge. Suspended over the Sabie River in the heart of the Kruger National Park, Kruger Shalati Train on the Bridge is truly a unique hotel offering. Accommodation is housed inside a restored and reimagined train permanently located on top of the historical Selati Bridge. Interestingly, Cheapflights reports that Hoedspruit in Limpopo and Nelspruit in Mpumalanga, the two areas from where you would access the Park, are two of the top trending destinations on their site.
Sun City is one of the most popular and well-known holiday resorts in South Africa. It’s something that many of us have seen in adverts and we’ve all imagined ourselves living our best lives at the Valley of the Waves. If you are someone who enjoys resort-type holidays with an exotic island feel, then this one’s for you. There are so many things to do there. With water rides, pools, a giant maze, nightlife places to visit, casinos, adventure activities, kids’ entertainment and more, the whole family will be entertained all day, every day. There are various accommodation options available within Sun City. Alternatively, it’s also possible to book accommodation outside of the resort and then do a day trip or two into Sun City.
The Rovos Rail
Many of us have seen stunning train trips in the movies or on a travel programme. But did you know that you can do an internationally renowned train trip right here in South Africa? The Rovos Rail is a luxury train service with a few journeys on offer. There is a four-day trip between Cape Town and Pretoria; a three-day journey between Durban and Pretoria that includes game drives; a stunning Victoria Falls trip that takes four to five days; a Namibia Safari; and so many more. This is a truly magical experience and is perfect for couples wanting a holiday with a difference.
The Orange River
For those who want thrill-seeking adventures, an Orange River rafting trip is for you. As the longest river in South Africa, all South Africans know about it and learnt about it in school. There are a number of companies that offer this river rafting experience. For the most part, the trip includes river rafting, camping, fire-side meals, drinks to keep you hydrated, and more. There are various trips available for all skill levels. So, even if you have no prior river rafting experience, you will be able to book an Orange River adventure. Ensure that you do your research and find the service provider that suits you best.
Ok, so not quite a South African escape seeing as AfriSki is based in Lesotho, but it’s definitely a location that South Africans should consider visiting. We are a country that gets very little snow and certainly not enough to ski on. And while some areas have tried to run ski lodges before, it’s been tough to keep going. AfriSki, however, has been around for many years and it’s easily accessible to South Africans. It is one of only two ski resorts in Southern Africa and it sits 3 050m above sea level. With the Maluti Mountains as the backdrop, it’s also a breathtakingly beautiful location. Anyone keen on having a ski holiday, but who can’t quite hit the slopes overseas, will find that AfriSki has just enough for you to get your fix.
The Garden Route
With 300kms of pristine coastal areas, the Garden Route is one of South Africa’s top destinations for local and international travellers. It takes in the towns of Mossel Bay, George, Wilderness, Knysna and Plettenberg Bay. According to data from Cheapflights, flight searches for destinations in and around these areas went up massively in 2021 and are likely to remain so in 2022. These include Port Elizabeth, which sits just outside of the region, (searches for flights up 209% from 2019) and George (up 290%). This is a great area to explore by car and it’s easy to rent a vehicle when in these towns. In fact, it looks as though many travellers are, in fact, opting to drive and do more road trips. Data from Cheapflights shows a 267% increase in car rental searches since the beginning of this year compared to the same period pre-pandemic.
This World Heritage site forms the border between KwaZulu-Natal and Lesotho. This entire area is dramatically beautiful and breathtaking with its natural beauty and scenery, as well as its many important historical sites. There are a number of key highlights of the region. This includes uKhahlamba-Drakensberg Park; Royal Natal National Park that is home to a five-kilometre-long rock wall known as the Amphitheatre; one of the world’s highest waterfalls; gushing rivers; historical rock art; and so much more. Visitors to this area can explore the area through a number of different activities including hiking, cycling, river rafting, walks and more.
We couldn’t fit everything into one story otherwise you would be reading this piece for days! But we couldn’t close off this story without a few honourable mentions. If you are looking to explore South Africa a bit more, be sure to also check out the Midlands Meander, other parts of Mpumalanga and Limpopo, including the Waterberg region, the little towns of Hogsback and Clarens and the nearby Golden Gate National Park, and the Diamond Coast Shipwreck Trail in the Northern Cape.
If this doesn’t put you in the mood to explore South Africa, then we’re not sure what will do the trick. There’s so much to see and do locally. Let’s make this the year of exploring our own backyard.