Eastern Cape Winter Treats

2013-06-28 09:18
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SA shivers in snow

Heavy snow fell over the weekend in various parts of South Africa. See all the pictures here. If you have any snow pics send them to photos@news24.com and we will publish them!

A visit to the Eastern Cape is a must for anybody wanting to experience some of South Africa's natural beauty.

Once here you will definitely meet some of the friendliest people in the country - not forgetting it is the hometown of one of the most well-known political figures in the whole world, Nelson Mandela. You can learn more about the first democratically elected President of the Republic South Africa in Mthatha, Mvezo and Qunu where he grew up.

If you explore the historical side of the province, expect it to provide a clearer perspective of how things once were and challenge some of your own perceptions.

But heading to the Eastern Cape in winter isn't for the fainthearted - while you’ll see non-stop rain in some provinces like the Western Cape, the Eastern Cape very often has low temperatures and snowy conditions along the Drakensberg Mountains - but the cold weather does have a measure of entertainment for those seeking adventure.

You will discover amazing game drives, hiking, snow activities such as skiing and the odd bit of fishing. Try some of these suggestions.

The Drakensberg area is a perfect spot for outdoor activities like snow hiking                (Shutterstock)

Snow hiking in the Maluti/Drakensberg Area: Situated in the northern region of the province is the Drakensberg or Ukhahlamba area which consists of towns like Barkly East, Ugie, Elliot, Lady Grey and Aliwal North. This is where you’ll never go wrong when looking to have fun and enjoy all your snow activities as the area is known to attract lots of snow during winter as the area borders with the Kingdom of Lesotho.

This is the area in the province where roads are frequently closed and drivers, particularly the long distance truck drivers,  are forced to park and play with snow for a number of days. So be warned. This area will offer you an unparalleled opportunity to see diverse cultures, charming natural wonders and the mountains will leave you inspired while the villages will surprise you.

Deep in the south of Drakensberg lies a town known as Rhodes, the town offers you picturesque drives whilst having quality times amidst the tranquillity of this quiet atmosphere. Here you can even see some of the Bushmen paintings, go biking and horse riding.

If you’re a snow or skiing fanatic, I’d advise you go to the Tiffindell Ski Resort which is  quite unique in a country like South Africa. The Resort has family friendly accommodation and you are guaranteed lots of fun. Children like to play with the snow, getting creative as they express their artistic flair. This is absolutely something rare, so why don’t you go there and come back with beautiful photographs of the whole family having fun? You could even email us at pics@news24travel.com.

Hiking in Amatola Hiking Trail: This trail begins at the Maden Dam in the Greater Buffalo City region in King William’s Town and leads through to the Tyume Forest which is just few kilometres from Hogsback, a lovely village to start your hiking adventure.

This 6-kilometre trail has some wonderful scenic views found in the province. Alternatively, there are thatched huts where you can take time out and have refreshments, these huts will not only offer you time and space to rejuvenate but will offer some breathtaking views.

Because the trail is on Amatola Mountain range, you can anticipate rough indigenous tropical forest with towering Outeniqua yellowwood and sneezewood during the trail. Whilst enjoying the walk, you can expect to see beautiful animals like the Leopard, Vervet Monkeys, Crowned Eagle and A Woodpecker.

Fishing/Birding in the Gariep Dam: Although the dam is in the border of Eastern Cape, Northern Cape and Free State, it serves as the major fishing spot for tourists and locals in these provinces. This is one of the biggest dams in the country and offers you an opportunity to experience top of the range outdoor living.

Gariep is home to a number of fish and locals see the dam as their favourite hang-out while practising what they do best, fishing. You can join them, get to know them and have fun as you will be on an adventure of a lifetime and perhaps catch a yellowfish or a tilapia.

Besides fishing, the dam has a wide range of birdlife for the bird lover in you, the dam has more than 220 species and the Blue Crane is one of those that you can easily see though it might be rare in winter. However, the fish eagle, ibis or the black eagle are birds you can see whenever you decide to visit the dam.

To finish your trip in style, visiting the Anglo Boer War memorial sites is something you might like to do. You will also see the concentration camps along this route and the cemetery.

Animals like the African Buffalo are a common sight at the Lalibela                                    (Shutterstock)

Game viewing at Lalibela Game Reserve:  Situated in the heart of the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan, few kilometres from Addo in Port Elizabeth, Lalibela Game Reserve will afford you the chance to see the Big 5 (Leopard, Lion, Rhino, Buffalo and Elephant) which therefore means you will also see the Cheetah, Hyena, Giraffe, Zebra and a number of animals including the Warthog and Bushbuck. This home of these amazing animals is also home to a number of birds, so coming here will really open a world of possibilities for you and keep the winter chill at bay.

Getting a golden opportunity to interact with these animals face to face with lots of species is what Lalibela will offer you. This Malaria-free reserve will also enable you to experience an early morning and sunset drive in an open truck bringing you an experience you’ll cherish for the rest of your life.

Getting out of your office or city to explore open spaces in the wild is such an amazing experience; you will be thrilled when you are surrounded by the thick savannah and fynbos vegetation where these animals are roaming freely, grazing and showing you how to just be - and relax.

Nelson Mandela Museum: And Finally, along the N2, incorporating the Sunshine Route to Durban and the Wild coast Route, lies a town known as Mthatha, this is where this icon was born and raised in the village called Qunu.

You cannot afford to come to the Eastern Cape and leave without visiting here. It provides an unparallelled view of this world-famous and revered political figure. The museum is where you can find out about his boyhood, life in prison right up to his release.

Lots of international tourists do come here and get a chance to meet, know and see some of the books, letters and images of this political icon. The museum remains one of the most significant heritage sites in the country and in the province as a whole.
Read more on:    eastern cape  |  travel south africa  |  lifestyle  |  weekend escapes

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