Why winter is the best time for South African travel

Posted by Sonya Schoeman on 22 May 2017

This is the season for good deals – and it won’t last forever!


Every winter, hotels around the country drop their prices to put bums in beds. Why not make it your bum? For the June issue, we’ve negotiated extra discounts just for Getaway readers.

Last August, 3.5 million travellers passed through South Africa’s ports of entry, according to Stats SA’s latest tourism and migration report. This is an increase of 14 per cent compared to August 2015. For the same period, the number of overseas tourists increased by 22,6 per cent, and research showed that the overwhelming majority were here for a holiday.

Globally, the United Nations World Trade Organisation reported that international travel grew by four per cent in the first half of 2016. Mostly, the growth came from China and the United States thanks to their strong currencies, but Russia and Brazil showed the opposite: a drop in outgoing tourism, attributed to ‘challenging economic constraints and depreciated currencies’. Sound familiar? In the current climate, we can expect a similar trend: South Africans will most likely be able to afford overseas travel less. This usually has an upside, though, of increasing local travel.

Which brings me to our 22 Superb Winter Deals story (page 58). Every winter, many hotels anticipate a drop in occupancy rates and put together attractive deals to woo travellers to their beds. Some provinces, such as temperate KwaZulu-Natal, have little need to do it because, as more than one self-satisfied hotelier from the region said to me, they’re full all-year round. This year, to my surprise, some top-end Western Cape and Limpopo properties said the same thing – they simply had no availability, and also that local visitors had increased.

The rise in international tourist numbers and increase in domestic tourism points to one thing: the winter rate phenomenon won’t last forever. At some point, as the demand for bed nights continues to grow, there will be no ‘low season’.

So why not take advantage of the deals we’ve found for you this winter? There are some excellent ones – plus, we’ve negotiated extra discounts on the winter discounts just for our readers. Go on. Grant yourself a mid-year treat!


5 things to look out for in the June issue

Sandy Thrills

If there’s one thing we at Getaway don’t doubt, it’s the love people have for Namibia. In our story on the Namib Desert, Melanie van Zyl makes it her playground (page 74).

Also read: four places to stay on your trip to the Namib Desert


Antarctica’s Wildlife

It’ll make you laugh, it’ll make your heart warm, you’ll fall in love. Photographer Dale Morris visited Antarctica and took some of the most exquisite images you’ll ever see (page 50).


Drakensberg Hikes

This mountain range has devotees, perhaps even worshippers. We asked five of them to choose some hiking routes we could pass on to you. Find them here (page 82).


Something new

We’re testing new experiences and rating them every second month. Turn to page 16 for the first one.


Even more value!

In addition to our regular good-value star (which you’ll find on great accommodation for under R550 pp), you’ll also find stars on incredible deals that include meals in our 22 Superb Winter Deals feature on page 58.


This month’s contributors

Dale Morris – Antarctica, page 50

Until recently, avid professional naturalist Dale had travelled to every continent on Earth, bar one – Antarctica. So late last year, he set sail with his trusty DSLR in hand and captured close-ups of some of the creatures that glide, dive, swim, waddle, wallow and frolic in this remarkable place. You’ll find his stunning images in this issue’s Travel Portfolio.

Emma Jordan – Plettenberg Bay, page 115
When Emma took her three-year-old to the Himalayas last year a lot of people thought she was insane. She didn’t agree. And they both survived. A naturally itinerant person, Emma has lived in New York, London, Los Angeles, Delhi, Cape Town and Joburg. Now, she calls the (out-of-season) quiet town of Plettenberg Bay home and shares her top tips in our Insider’s Guide.

Shane and Tarryn Quinnell – Drakensberg, page 82
In Shane and Tarryn’s case, the travel bug that infects many millennials has morphed into an all-consuming virus. They both love spending time in nature, whether climbing, hiking or mountain biking. We got them to give up their best hiking-route secrets in the Drakensberg before they headed off on an adventure, which began at the end of April, to climb Africa’s five highest peaks. You can follow their journey at teamtane.com.

Zane Henry – London, page 92
Zane has been living in London for five years and has spent 80 per cent of that time complaining to other South Africans about how expensive it is. The other 20 per cent has been spent finding cheap ways of doing cool things. He is currently editing a travel trade publication where he tries to shoehorn references to South Africa into every issue. ‘If you’re reading this,’ he says, ‘please send biltong.’


Read more from this story in the June 2017 issue of Getaway magazine.

Get this issue →

Our June issue features a Namibia dune tour, 8 epic Drakensberg hikes, and 22 of the most unbeatable winter deals in SA.


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