’Tis the Season to be Peaceful: Where to Avoid the Crowds this Christmas
I can’t help but gasp internally each time I look at the calendar and realise that it’s December. It feels like just the other day when my family and I were running around trying to arrange last-minute Christmas meals and presents. If this time of year leaves you feeling slightly panicked thinking of crowded coastlines, cramped malls and endless present shopping, while all you want is just to peacefully unwind with your loved ones this festive season ─ you can basically claim this blog as an early Christmas present!
We’ve tried to make your festive season anxiety something of the past by gathering the most picturesque ─ and available ─ holiday spots in South Africa where you can actually sit back, breathe and enjoy quality time with your family.
Lord’s Wine Farm
Capacity: 10 guests
Are you looking for a Cape Winelands Christmas vibe but don’t have any desire to get stuck on the busy roads leading to Stellenbosch, Constantia or Franschhoek? Then the ever so spectacular McGregor Valley should definitely be on your Christmas to-do list. Lord’s Wine Farm is hidden in the majestic mountains surrounding Robertson and is the ideal spot for a large family or group of friends wanting to escape the Christmas craze. Accommodation is offered in two elegant ground-floor apartments and a free-standing house.
Activities and attractions in the area: Visiting the beautiful towns of Greyton and McGregor, wine tasting, cycling, mountain biking, swimming, Lord’s Winery, Rhebokskraal Olive Estate and Eseltjiesrus Donkey Sanctuary.
Capacity: 14 guests
Ditch the jam-packed coastlines of South Africa for the blissful farmlands of the Southern Drakensberg. Graceland Farm is near the lovely little town of Underberg and offers a cottage with four bedrooms ─ spacious enough for a big family to celebrate Christmas. Here you can enjoy a lovely braai on the patio with uninterrupted views of the mountains. Underberg with its shops and restaurants is merely five kilometres away and definitely worth discovering. Your four-legged friends are also more than welcome if you arrange it beforehand!
Activities and attractions in the area: Day trips to the magnificent Sani Pass, walks in the mountains at Cobham and Coleford, fishing, horseback riding, guided walks, mountain biking, tennis and cycling.
Capacity: 4 guests
Bye-bye tiring Christmas crowds, hello heavenly festive season! If you live far from the coast or you barely had time to arrange a proper getaway this year, Mister C might just be the cure for your end-of-year exhaustion. Situated in the suburb of Schoemansville, Hartbeespoort, only seventy kilometres from Johannesburg and Pretoria, this accommodation offers a supreme quick getaway for the busy city mice. Mister C only offers two luxury suites, which makes it ideal for an intimate family Christmas. You’re also spoiled with an undercover patio with braai facilities, a large deck with two swimming pools and superb views of the mountains and dam. Whether you’re looking for a quiet holiday or a fun-filled family stay, you’ll get it all here in Hartbeespoort!
Activities and attractions in the area: River rafting, boat cruises, abseiling, horseback trails, hot air ballooning, 4×4, mountain and quad-bike trails, hiking and walking trails, the Borakalalo Reserve, Hartbeespoort Dam Aquarium and the Harties Cableway.
Capacity: 10 guests
Escape to the magnificent Magoebaskloof ─ a place with peacefulness that’s hard to come by. Cheerio Gardens is home to the annual Magoebaskloof Spring Festival and only eight kilometres from the Haenertsburg Village. There are two private self-catering cottages on the premises, where you’ll only hear the whistling of farm labourers or the sounds of the Samango monkeys from time to time. Note that this is quite the secluded getaway and that cell phone signal is very limited. So, get ready to have your tired batteries properly recharged!
Activities and attractions in the area: Debengeni Waterfalls, Magoebaskloof Canopy Tour, Magoebaskloof Berry Festival, berry picking at Blueberry Heights (December to February) and walking trails.
Abrahamskraal Guest Farm
Capacity: 44 guests
Now this is the spot if you really aren’t a fan of any sort of festive season fuss. You’ll only be surrounded by dusty roads, windmills and bright blue Cape Karoo skies at Abrahamskraal Guest Farm. This quaint sheep farm is 35 kilometres from Prince Albert and offers accommodation on six camping spots, in a farmhouse, a farm cottage and a separate unit. Forget about all the happenings that gave you sleepless nights in 2019, and enjoy an authentic Karoo Christmas on the farm stoep while marvelling at the sky painted orange by the setting African sun.
Activities and attractions in the area: Swimming in the farm dam, game viewing, guided walks, mountain biking, wine tasting, tennis, cycling, Fransie Pienaar Museum, Prince Albert Gallery and the Prince Albert Farmers Market on Saturdays.
Gamtoos River Mouth Luxury Tented Camp
Capacity: 44 guests
If you still feel like being close to all the coastal fun, but not too entangled in it, this hidden Eastern Cape gem will probably tick all your Christmas boxes. Gamtoos River Mouth Luxury Tented Camp lies in the shadow of the popular Jeffreys Bay, only forty minutes’ drive from Port Elizabeth, and offers various tenting options right on the banks of the Gamtoos River. You can even bring your pets by arrangement, so no family member will be left behind! Here you will be delighted by secluded yet comfortable camping facilities, warm ocean, an awesome dune belt, unbelievable scenery and tons of fun family activities.
Activities and attractions in the area: Swimming in the ocean and lagoon, fishing, cycling, sandboarding, African Dawn Wildlife Sanctuary, Dolphin Beach in Jeffreys Bay and Jeffreys Bay Golf Club.
Capacity: 70 guests
A merry Christmas in the magnificent Natal Midlands! Springholm Cottages is said to have an almost tangible tranquillity and offers stunning accommodation on a farm just twelve kilometres from the charming little town of Nottingham Road. There are six cottages to choose from, three of which are situated on the beautiful lake, and three rooms in the main house. If your family is big on fishing, you can enjoy reeling them in on a catch-and-release basis at the lake. A picnic on the premises or drinks on the lovely lounge deck of the Café at Brahman Hills will also be perfect pastimes. There is plenty to entertain, but also plenty to offer relaxation on this great farm.
Activities and attractions in the area: Fishing in the lake, swimming, drinks on the deck, picnics, drinks at the underground Copper Bar, beer tasting, mountain biking, trail running, walks, Karkloof Canopy Tour, Barbz Cozy County Café, the Café at Brahman Hills and spa treatments.
Other awesome and quiet stays still available over Christmas
Who said the festive season with your family should be exhausting and just jingling bells all the way? Don’t let the idea of having a Christmas holiday on an overpopulated beach or in a sprawling city get you down ─ book one of these wonderful stays and have yourself a merry, but peaceful, little Christmas!
Feature image: Springhold Cottages (TravelGround)