Some some Spring in your Step…

Tiny blossoms are beginning to bring little flecks of colour back to the stark branches we’ve seen all winter. There’s a touch of spring in the air and with it, a flurry of excitement as Capetonians begin to wake from their winter hibernation.

The promise of warmer weather and clear skies is enough motivation to get out of the city and enjoy a little breakaway. Whether it’s a hike to loosen up the wintry joints or that first icy spring dip in the Atlantic, here are a few out-of-city escapes that will get you into the summer spirit.

Gondwana Game Reserve
Did you know that just four hours outside of Cape Town (and one hour from Augusta de Mist), you can spend the weekend bouncing about on the back of a game vehicle as you search the plains for the spots of a leopard or the swish of a lion’s tail? Home to all of the Big 5, Gondwana stretches across 11 000 hectares of nature reserve. Their cute mud huts are ideal for a romantic getaway, while their family-sized villas are fully equipped with expansive views of the reserve. It’s not out-of-place to see an elephant drinking from the pool and rumour has it that the lions aren’t afraid to wander through the main camp either.

Call this “luxury rustic” accommodation. If you’re looking to really get away from it all, KolKol, near Bot River, is the ideal escape. Each of their cabins is unique and if you’re really looking to get closer nature, you can even stay in their luxury safari tent. Cabins have their own plunge pools/jacuzzi’s, so whether it’s hot or cold, you can spend hours lazing in the water, with a drink in your hand, watching the nothingness as the hours tick by


Smitswinkel Bay
One of Cape Town’s hidden gems, Smitswinkel Bay is a strip of white sand, lapped by turquoise waters, just outside the gates of Cape Point. Spending the night at the SANParks luxury tented camp, you can be out of Cape Town and putting down your bags in your tented accommodation in under 45 minutes. The walk down to the Smitswinkel Bay beach is well worth the effort, and you’ll be rewarded with a stretch of empty white sand, peace and quiet. And if you are up for the cold, a swim in the Atlantic is always refreshing

Just on the other side of Sir Lowry’s Pass, a quick 45 minute drive from the city, the Elgin Valley is apple country. It’s country chic with a bit of bumpkin thrown in. You can spend the day mountain biking through the valley, or wine tasting at farms like Paul Cluver and Oak Valley. Accommodation ranges from quaint B&B’s to Airstream trailers and there is more than enough to eat at one of the many restaurants in the valley

Orangekloof Tented Camp
There’s something exciting about getting out of the city, whilst being within the city. The hike from Silvermine to Orangekloof Tented Camp in Constantia Neck is breathtaking, and while your view on the False Bay side stretches all the way to Muizenberg beach, the views on the hike are equally stunning. Starting at Silvermine 7am, you’ll arrive at the SANParks Orange Kloof luxury tented camp at around 3,30pm. After a hot shower you can make use of the fully equipped kitchen or throw some meat on the fire and relax under the stars. The next day it’s a short and rewarding hike up to the top of Table Mountain.

Simon’s Town
The ideal weekend-away spot. Travelling against city-bound traffic, 30 minutes later you’ll find yourself in quaint Simon’s town. Accommodation rates are much lower than Cape Town and the views of the harbour make you feel like you’re somewhere else altogether. Have some oysters on the water at Bertha’s, sip a pint with the locals at the Two & Sixpence bar or tuck into some fish and chips at the Salty Dog. The naval museum is interesting and of course Boulders Beach is nearby if the weather’s good enough for a swim. There are lots of little bric-a-brac stores to poke your head into on the main road and on the way back to Cape Town, you can stop off in Kalk Bay to buy some fresh fish from the local fishermen at the harbour.

Nature’s Valley
It’s a bit of a drive just for a weekend, but if you can get Friday or Monday (or both!) off, it’s well worth it. On the drive out you’ve got spectacular views and the opportunity to stop off in Knysna for some oysters and a break from the drive. Make sure you don’t drive past the Garden of Eden without stopping. It’s about a 30 minute walk through the forest on the wooden boardwalk and the rich oxygen does wonders for the brain. Once you’re in Nature’s Valley, keep an eye out for the turn-off to Wild Spirit, a backpacker’s with a 180 degree view over the valley, a waterfall and an experience that will last a lifetime. Book into one of the rooms or if you’re up for it, a safari tent. Dinner is served on the deck where you can choose between a meat and a vegetarian option and don’t be surprised if one of the other guests pull of a guitar or a djembe drum after dinner to initiate a drum circle – it’s all part of the Wild Spirit

with thanks to Natalie Roos at Tails of a Mermaid