When it comes to Christmas crowds, there’s lovers and haters. If your idea of The Nightmare Before Christmas is crowded beaches, restaurants packed with people and sold-out attractions all summer, you’re probably dreading the festive season in South Africa. While most festive holidaymakers hit up Cape Town and KZN, there are a few destinations left in the rainbow nation that don’t see hordes of visitors descending upon them every year. So, for the people out there who prefer a quiet Christmas spent with loved ones getting away from it all, why not visit one of these less-popular destinations?
The beauty of the Drakensberg is that because it’s so widespread and relatively remote, you’re guaranteed to be able to find some peace and quiet somewhere. You’ll be able to soak up the quietly festive atmosphere at a lovely boutique hotel or resort away from the crowds. Whether you want to relax with a glass of wine and a braai on Christmas Day or get up early for a peaceful hike in the mountains, you’ll have no problem getting some uninterrupted family time over the holiday period,in the Drakensberg.
The small town of Zinkwazi on KZN’s Dolphin Coast is a perfect family holiday pick. It’s around an hour outside of Durban, so it’s easy to reach. Zinkwazi’s blue flag beach is surrounded by coastal dunes and forms part of a nature conservancy. The still and warm lagoon, as well as crystal clear rock pools and a meandering river mean that the younger children aren’t left out of the water activities! Whatever you do, make sure you don’t forget to stop by the famous Proud’s Pizza stall for a meal of carbs and cheese on the beachfront.
Green Kalahari, Northern Cape
If you don’t mind hot weather served with a glass of wine, the Northern Cape is an unexpectedly beautiful Christmas destination. The Green Kalahari in particular, is an oasis of vineyards, farmlands, wine tasting and gourmet foods. It may be sweltering over the Christmas period, but it’s also quiet. Plus, it’s probably something totally different to what you’re used to. Take a trip to Augrabies to marvel at the rock formations, drink sundowners overlooking the Orange river and indulge in delicious Karoo lamb for the best Christmas dinner of your life.
Let’s be honest, Joburg and the immediate surrounds are pretty quiet over the festive period. The Magaliesberg is no exception, and there are plenty of getaways to be had from rustic to luxurious. You can go for a couple of weeks, a few days or even just for a day trip if you’re based in Gauteng, and the sight of the mountains stretching out for kilometres will be enough to make you forget how close you are to the city. Go on a game drive at Askari Lodge which hosts the Big Five, or have a cold beer in a beautiful garden setting at Black Horse Brewery. Some places even allow you to bring your pets, so that the entire family is part of the Christmas holiday!
Hluleka, Wild Coast
Situated between Port St Johns and Coffee Bay, Hluleka is quintessential Wild Coast. It’s breathtakingly beautiful but remains very quiet even during high season, as it’s a bit off the beaten track and requires some commitment and a 4x4 to get there The famous sightings of cows on the beach is just one of the many things that you’ll fall in love with here. The beach is sandwiched in between towering rock faces and milkwood trees, and visitors can hike, kayak or swim, while keeping an eye open for the abundance of wildlife and birdlife in the area.