It’s unpredictable, but snow does fall in South Africa’s winter months and in some places you can even ski. Here are six of the best places to see snow in South Africa.
Some of the most accessible heavy snowfall in the Western Cape can be found on the Matroosberg, 35 kilometres from Ceres. Matroosberg Peak is the second highest in the province and the home of The Ski Club of South Africa. The peak falls within Matroosberg Private Nature Reserve and the slopes are accessible by 4×4 only. The reserve is open to day visitors and has campsites and cottages for overnight bookings.
Deep blue skies and snow-capped winter mountains transform the Cederberg’s otherwise hot and dusty landscape. While heavy snowfalls are rare in this area, each year brings at least a light dusting of snow to the higher peaks. Day hikes are a great way to see the snow which is forecast between May and September and there’s usually some on the 2 026-metre Sneeuberg, the region’s highest peak, throughout this period. www.capenature.co.za
3. Cathedral Peak
If you’re feeling active and find the idea of hiking through snow appealing, this part of the Drakensberg is for you. The weather here tends to be more stable during winter and, after a snowstorm, conditions can become bright and clear for days. In good weather, Cathedral Peak can be summited in one day from the popular Cathedral Peak Hotel, and although snowfall can make some areas treacherous, experienced hikers should have no difficulty. www.cathedralpeak.co.za
4. Golden Gate National Park
Often packed to bursting during the summer months, Glen Reenen Rest Camp at Golden Gate National Park attracts few visitors in winter – it’s not uncommon to have the entire camp to yourself, a perfect, untrodden blanket of snow on all sides. If that sounds too chilly, there’s cosier accommodation in the nearby Golden Gate Hotel, or grab a luxurious log cabin at Highlands Mountain Retreat and stay warm by the fire as the snow drifts down outside. www.sanparks.org
5. Long Tom Pass
At 2 150 metres, this Mpumalanga pass is one of the highest tarred roads in South Africa. Although snow isn’t constant and is often relatively light, the easy access makes this a great place to see snow when conditions are favourable. At the top of the winding pass you can warm yourself with a brew at Hops Hollow Country House, a microbrewery and B&B. There are also plenty of accommodation options in nearby Lydenburg and Sabie. www.hopshollow.com
6. Underberg and Sani Pass
While it’s not guaranteed every year, the quaint southern Drakensberg villages of Underberg and Himeville are great bases for 4×4 trips up Sani Pass, where winter snow is more or less assured. To make the most of the snow at the top of the pass, book a stay at Sani Mountain Lodge.