5 snowy activities and where to do them in SA

2014-06-09 08:00
Although snow may not be a weather condition generally associated with ‘sunny’ South Africa, we do get our fair share of the magical white stuff during winter months… and it always manages to attract quite a crowd.  

However, if you’re planning on doing something a little more exciting than just watching it from a distance (or on tv), finding the right type of snow for the right type of activity can prove to be a bit of a challenge.

So, we’ve decided to round up a few of South Africa’s snowiest spots and divide them into five different groups according to which sort of activity suits them best.  

Would you add any spots of your own? If so, tell us more in the comment section below and send us pics to pics@news24travel.com    


Okay, well, if you want to do the skiing thing properly, there’s really only one place to go: Tiffindell. Located just outside Rhodes in the Eastern Cape, Tiffindell is South Africa’s one and only ski resort and offers guests a world class ski and snowboard experience.

Because it doesn’t remain consistently snowy anywhere in South Africa, the resort does make use of snowmaking machines to assist in producing the good stuff. Snowmaking currently covers in excess of 1000m of ski runs for about 3 month of the year during an average winter.

Tiffindell was recently revamped and rumour has it that they may be hosting their first international ski event this winter.   

They also have a snowy fun park with rails and jumps for more adventurous ski and snowboard enthusiasts.

Check out their website for details about packages and accommodation.   

4x4 adventures

Enjoy walking on the wild side? Laugh in the face of danger? Wouldn’t even think twice about taking your 4x4 for a spin up a snowy pass? Well, then these spots are just for you!

Matroosberg, Ceres, Western Cape

When snow falls in the Western Cape, Matroosberg peak, the second highest in the province, is always first on the list of places to go.  

Located about 30km from the town of Ceres, it's a beautiful 3-hour drive from Cape Town. While you can admire the snowy top from a distance, you will need a 4x4 vehicle to get really up close.

Just take note – the peak is notoriously dangerous, with a number of unfortunate deaths reported over the past few years, especially during snowy weather. If you are going to be taking your 4x4 up there, make sure you know what you’re doing and stay well away from the edges when you start exploring on foot.  

Sani Pass, KZN

Connecting KwaZulu-Natal with Mokhotlong in Lesotho, Sani Pass is breathtakingly scenic and devastatingly dangerous, especially during wet and icy weather.

It’s also one of South Africa’s snowiest spots – in fact it already got its first dusting of white at the end of April this year. Take a look at these pics

If the thought of taking it on in snow gets your adrenaline pumping, we back you all the way – just be sure to be well-prepared: invest in some quality equipment and stay on the safe side!  

Snowball fights & snowmen

Want to introduce your kids to snow? Or just want to frolic like a kid again? These spots are great for that purpose.

Hogsback, Eastern Cape

The magical, Lord of the Rings type village of Hogsback receives snow once or twice every winter, transforming it into even more of a fairy tale landscape than usual.  

Book a weekend stay in one of the town's cozy B&Bs to make sure you get a full fix of white wonderland!

Hogsback is 264km from Port Elizabeth and 138km from East London.

Van Reenen, Free State

Known as the gateway to the Northern Drakensberg, Van Reenen practically straddles the border between the Free State and KZN.  

Furthermore, at only a quick three hour drive from both Johannesburg and Durban, it's a convenient and central location for both sea-side and city dwellers to experience some winter fun.

A snowy hike

Bundle up, wear shoes with some serious grip and head out to see the snow from up close. However, remember to be extra cautious in this slippery weather – don’t go close to mountain edges or try to be overly brave.  

Cederberg, Western Cape  

While snow in the Cederberg may typically not be deep and powdery enough for skiing or snowboarding, getting out your warmest gear and setting out on one of the many hiking trails in the Cederberg Wilderness Area makes for an exhilarating winter activity.  

Take a look at Cape Nature's website for accommodation and hiking details.

Golden Gate National Park, Free State

If you're seeking a little taste of Switzerland on home soil, Golden Gate Highlands National Park is your spot!

Temperatures may drop as low as -15 degrees celsius, making it a prime location for deep and luxurious snowfall. The park offers a multitude of hiking trails of various lengths. While there are a number that stretch overnight, we think it’s best to stick to the short, safe routes.  

Check out the park’s website for details about accommodation.

Table Mountain, Western Cape

At least once every winter, the Mother City’s iconic mountain receives slightly more than a dusting of snow. Last year the guys and gals from No Danger Diaries, a bunch of daring Cape Town-based adventurers, set a trend by hiking up the mountain to experience the rare magic. Check out these pics!

Just admiring the wintry view

Okay, so let's just be honest here... sometimes the best way to experience wintry weather is just to watch it from inside. Next to a fireplace. With a hot chocolate/glass of wine/coffee in hand. 

Dullstroom, Mpumalanga

Probably most famous for fly-fishing, the picturesque town of Dullstroom is one of South Africa's quintessential country breakaway spots.  

Located 2 077m above sea level, it tends to get pretty chilly during winter months, practically making snow an annual occurrence. While it could easily fit into the snow-man-building category, we thought that, due to its abundance of adorable coffee shops and restaurants, it’s actually the perfect spot to just cuddle up and watch the flakes fall from a cozy fireplace.

Franschhoek Pass, Western Cape

In the midst of winter, the magical winelands scenery in the Stellenbosch/Franschhoek area is often made even more magical by light dustings of snow on the surrounding mountain tops. The Franschhoek pass provides a perfect vantage point from which to admire the view.  

Long Tom Pass, Mpumalanga

With its pinnacle reaching a whopping 2 150m above sea level, the Long Tom Pass between Pilgrim's Rest and Lydenburgh is one of the highest tarred roads in South Africa.

Although snowfall usually tends to be rather light, the pass is highly accessible to even the most average of vehicles, making it a favourite snow-viewing spot.  

Be sure to visit Hops Hollow microbrewery at the top of the pass to sample some of their original beers, such as The Digger's Draught and Blacksmith's Brew.

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