The weather is getting warmer – well, at least it was for a few days – and many people are gearing up to go on holiday.
But this is the worst time to book your holiday because it should have been planned and booked by now. But human nature – especially on African time – is always delayed.
I don’t want to call it last-minute planning, but in business terms it is, because peak hour prices start to kick in and travelling to this year’s dream destination starts to seem expensive.
Last-minute deals vary: you might want to book a cruise or just travel locally, which isn’t as cheap as it may seem. Coastal area prices tend to skyrocket during the warmer months.
Speaking to a friend this past week, he told me how he’d booked into a hotel in Cape Town that cost R2 500 a night for a family room off peak. The same hotel was later taking bookings at R5 000 in peak season.
The peak season topic seems common as it should be logical that prices increase then. But many people don’t think logically. South Africa has a longer summer and wedding season lasts till February, all factors that influence the price of a holiday.
I decided to research some of the cheaper holidays and experiences to take if you’re working on off-peak rates during peak season. Nobody wants to book into a hotel in a small town only to discover the place offers nothing to do.
Let’s look at local travel in just two provinces. The Limpopo province is but a few hours out of Joburg with minimal toll gates on the way there if you drive. It’s not an area that’s full of hotels, so you’re more likely to book into a B&B. The towns are small and anywhere that you need to go isn’t too far. You could easily spend around R2 500 for a week, which isn’t too bad.
Pietersburg, another small town a few hours’ drive away, offers classy B&Bs too, but also at a reasonable price. Some activities include going to the Polokwane Museum, Peter Mokaba Stadium, Hugh Exton Photographic Museum, a museum that exhibits photo collections that were taken by Hugh Exton.
Cultural village Bakone Malpa will expose you to the Pedi (Northern Sotho) culture. The tourist village gives visitors a glimpse into the Bakone clan. The huts are built in the traditional style of 250 years ago, to give the authentic rural experience.
If you’re not familiar with African Sotho cultures, this is the perfect place to gain more knowledge about activities like making homemade sorghum beer, basket making and pottery. You get to walk around experience the environment and ask questions.
KwaZulu-Natal can be pricey because of the toll gates on the N3, but there’s always the option of taking the bus … it’s a few more hours but there are stops where you’ll be able to stretch your legs and stock up on curios.
The small town of Margate doesn’t get too crowded before school holidays and has breathtaking views. Take a long hike through Skyline Nature Reserve, a place which has received positive reviews on social media and is a favourite amongst visitors due to its untouched aesthetics. It offers a bit of bird watching for bird lovers and long walks for those who like to get a bit of fitness in or spot animals in their natural habitat.
At the edge of a river lies St Michael’s on Sea. There is a small beach that is rather untouched and one can even say undiscovered by most.
It is a popular spot for local and travelling surfers. There is also the option of boating and it’s a great area for picnics.
The Pure Venom Reptile Park is where I once spent a New Year’s afternoon. There are loads of reptiles to see, if you are comfortable around then.
They vary from small house snakes to large crocodiles. It’s a great place to take the kids and educate them on the subject.
These are just a few of the few local attractions to visit in SA. There were too many to mention but I’m still on a quest to learn more about our beautiful country.
• Bakone Malapa Northern Sotho Open-Air Museum
Address: R37, Chuenespoort Road, Polokwane, 0700
Phone: 073 216 9912
• Skyline Nature Reserve Park in Margate, KwaZulu-Natal
Address: Uvongo, Margate, 4270
• Pure Venom Reptile Park
Address: Izotsha Rd, Shelly Beach, Margate, 4265
Phone: 082 492 8256