Where to go in 2012

Posted by Sarah Duff on 6 January 2012

At Getaway, we get to do rather a lot of travelling. Here are our picks for the top destinations to visit in 2012.

 

 

Cameron Ewart-Smith, editor

Tankwa Karoo National Park

Tankwa Karoo is one of the most underrated national parks in the country. If open spaces and peace and quite are your kind of thing and you want to get way off the grid (there’s no electricity in the cottages) this is the place for you.

Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park

The Kgalagadi will always hold a special place in my heart – some of my all-time best-ever wildlife sightings have been enjoyed along the dusty roads of the Nossob River. The hot dry conditions are not for everyone, but if you enjoy big sky country you will feel right at home here.

Evan Haussmann, photojournalist

Zanzibar

The island known as Unguja to the locals, is steeped in history and the capital – Stonetown is worth spending at least two or three days exploring. Try to catch the night food market where seafood is cooked on open fires, the food and atmosphere are equally amazing. Once you’ve explored the nooks and crannies of the old town’s markets and airy restaurants head either north or south for the idyllic island experience. Ras Nungwi in the north is a great place if you’re social and want to hang with other travellers. In the south at Kizimkazi you may get a chance to swim with dolphins in the tepid waters of the Indian Ocean.

If you’re adventurous and have a week or so hire an off-road motorcycle and circumnavigate the island crashing (as in sleeping) where ever you stop. You’ll find quiet lodges hidden behind bougainvilleas and driftwood beach bars serving ice cold cocktails run by a Rastafarian beach bum. However you choose to see the island there’s never enough time so fully expect to long to return again and again.

Sarah Duff, web editor

NamibRand Nature Reserve

The NamibRand, one of the largest private reserves in Southern Africa at 172 000 hectares, is located on the eastern edge of the Namib Desert. It’s vast, wild, covered in fairy circles (mysterious circles in which nothing grows) and populated by fascinating desert creatures. The best way of taking in the lanscape is on a three-day walking trail with Tok Tokkie Trails (one of my favourite experiences in Namibia), where you sleep under the stars and hike over sand dunes and next to gemsbok. Wolwedans offers fabulously luxurious accommodation in the reserve, while the NamibRand Family Hideout has an affordable self-catering house and camping area.

www.namibrand.com

De Hoop Nature Reserve

If you want a peaceful holiday with some fun outdoors activities, De Hoop Nature Reserve in the Overberg (three hours’ drive from Cape Town) is it. The reserve has spectacular beaches fringed by white sand dunes and turquoise sea that’s warm enough to swim in, flamingo and pelican-filled vleis, and miles and miles of fynbos sprinkled with bontebok, ostriches and the rare Cape mountain zebra. Go mountain biking (bring your own bikes or hire them from the lodge), whale watching, hiking, bird watching (the reserve is home to 260 species), snorkelling, quad biking or play tennis. Accommodation ranges from camping to self-catering cottages and a luxury manor house.

www.capenature.co.za

Tyson Jopson, Online journalist

Matroosberg

Just 35 km from Ceres, Matroosberg is really cool to visit for a day trip if you’re out in the Cederberg. It’s the highest peak in the Boland and besides the stunning white wonderland that covers its mountains in winter there is also a lot to do, including 4×4 trails, mountain biking, kloofing and in winter, snowball fighting. It’s not a tourist hotspot which means that is quiet and unspoilt.

Stanford

Thought I was a little old (or young?) to really enjoy one-horse towns but the quaint main street and nearby Birkenhead Brewery make it an awesome riverside town to visit for a romantic weekend. Also, there are numerous vineyards that you can visit on the way there, which turns the road trip into something more than just Bruce Springsteen and dead bugs.

Christie Fynn, Digital promotions manager

Liuwa Plain National Park

There are not many reserves that are still so totally raw and wild. The Liuwa Plain National Park, located in south-western Zambia, is home to the second largest wildebeest migration in Africa. The journey to get there is as much fun as the destination. Driving through rural Zambia is an adventure and a thrilling experience – it’s best to go before the rainy season just in time for the 40 000 wildebeest to start their migration. At US$50 (R400) for camping and park fees, its an affordable alternative to the Serengeti or the Masai Mara and you’re also not surrounded my millions of tourists. Watch out, Liuwa Plain NP is the new ‘it’ reserve.

 

Sarah Isaacs, editorial assistant

Hogsback

The inspiration behind Tolkien’s Shire, Hosgback in the Eastern Cape looks and feels like a fairy wonderland. Thick with indigenous forest, including some of the oldest yellowwoods in the world, and surrounded by the Amathole Mountains, this laid back village is one of the Eastern Cape’s most beautiful resting grounds. There’s plenty to see and do including waterfalls, hiking, bird watching, horse riding and picnicking.

Terra-Khaya is one of Hogsback’s most popular backpacking destinations. Located on a hill, it offers magnificent views of the mountainous surrounds, giving visitors the sense that they have stepped into another fairytale-world. Its also the headquarters for Amathole Horse Trails – short and overnight trails catering for all levels of rider. Camping is R60 a night and cabins are from R265 a night.

www.hogsbackecobackpackers.com

 

Zanzibar photo by Kerry de Bruyn






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