6 inland spots to splash in this summer

Posted on 7 October 2022 By Taylah Strauss

Water, baby!

If a trip to the coast is not on the cards, here are a few inland spots where you can splash out this summer.

1. Cradle Moon Lake


With its clean, safe water and white sandbanks, and only 30 minutes from Sandton, Cradle Moon Lake is a literal beach within reach. Built along the Crocodile River, the 32-hectare lake is well equipped for open-water swimmers, paddlers and rowers, and stocked for avid fly fishers. The more sedate are welcome to judge the athletes from the comfort of sun-loungers at the water’s edge, or from the vantage point of the chic cafe and bar. The relaxed boat cruises are also highly recommended (R190 per person).

Cost: R50 per person conservation fee.

Do This
Try a SUP yoga class, explore the surrounding bushveld on a mountain bike (hire one for R200) or blow your Christmas bonus on a hot-air balloon ride over the lake (R2  670 per person, air-ventures.co.za).

Stay Here
Feel far away from the city at Cradle Moon Lakeside Game Lodge. From R800 pp sharing. 087-110-1231, cradlemoon.co.za

But, if you’re longing for a bit of the urban scene, explore some of the top night clubs in Sandton!

2. Vaal River

Free State/Gauteng

Less than 50 kilometres from Parys (just an hour’s drive from Joburg), you can charter a houseboat and be the captain of your own adventure. With 55 kilometres of an inland waterway to traverse, there’s plenty to explore along the shoreline. Dock at restaurants, spas and golf courses along the way, with braai facilities at selected spots. No special licence is required, just a keen sense of adventure and a fishing rod. And your binoculars for top-drawer birding, an ideal late-afternoon activity once you’ve anchored in a secluded spot.

Do This
Old Willow No. 7 Houseboat Charters also offers day charters for R996. 087-720-0747

Stay Here
On a houseboat, which sleeps up to five people. From R697.50 per person. oldwillow.co.za

3. Bloemhof Dam

North West

Situated along the N12 ‘Treasure Route’ (190 kilometres from Bloemfontein and 350 kilometres from Joburg), Bloemhof Nature Reserve spans 12 000 hectares of mostly open Kalahari scrub, where large herds of springbok, black wildebeest, gemsbok and eland roam. An angler’s paradise, the dam hosts some fishing-calendar highlights, including the Tri-Nations Angling Competition and Bloemhof Bonanza. It’s also suitable for a variety of watersports, and powerboat launching facilities are available. Fed by the Vaal River, the dam itself covers an impressive 25 000 hectares and is home to hundreds of bird species, including rare waterfowl. Roads in the reserve are suitable for all vehicles, but the rainy season (December) brings a lot of mud.

Cost:  R40 for adults, R25 kids.

Do This
Launch your own boat (R50) and go fishing for carp, barbel and yellowfish (R25).

Stay Here
Self-catering options in the reserve include cabins and campsites. Opt for the three chalets that are just over two kilometres from the dam, each sleeping six. From R140 per person. 053-433-1706, tourismnorthwest.co.za

4. Vanderkloof Dam

Free State

Some 100 kilometres downstream of Gariep Dam, Vanderkloof has the highest dam wall in the country (108 metres). South Africa’s second-largest dam in volume, it’s fed by a number of rivers (including the Orange) and its shores have interesting features to explore – numerous small caves and scenic viewpoints, some only accessible by boat. When the dam is full, the shoreline is 100 kilometres long, making this a watersport enthusiast’s haven. The fishing is excellent, too, though you’ll have to compete with the many kingfishers that patrol the shore.

Do This
Spend the day on the dam in rented kayaks paddling to interesting bays and rock formations, and spotting wildlife. From R450 per person. adventurekayaking.co.za

Stay Here
Waterfront Guest House is six kilometres from the dam; its private slipway, angling and picnic spot are on the water. R650 per person sharing B&B. 083-303-7208

5. Gubu Dam

Eastern Cape

Hidden beneath the foot of Mount Kubusi, 30 kilometres from Stutterheim, lies 124 hectares of glittering water. Gubu Dam is frequented by an abundance of birds and other wildlife from the surrounding forests, and the occasional human. Undisturbed by the roar of outboard motors, visitors can glide along the dam’s tranquil surface on kayaks and canoes, dive in from the top of the quarry and swim in the warm water, or cast a hopeful line – the dam abounds with both rainbow and brown trout.

Cost: Day visitors pay R20 pp.

Do This
Hire a kayak from Natural High (079-636-8949). Get your fly-fishing permit from the local Trout Fishing Club – call 083-305-2716.

Stay Here
You don’t need to book into the informal campsite (R30 per person), but phone ahead if you’re visiting during the week and want hot water. 043-683-5247

6. Bulshoek Dam

Western Cape

Just north of Clanwilliam in the Cederberg, on the banks of Bulshoek Dam, Rondeberg Resort is a waterside sanctuary, ideal for family holidays. With camping facilities and air-conditioned chalets, it’s a great place to cool off. Not just a popular stop on the Cape-to-Namibia route, Rondeberg is a destination in itself, with plenty to offer. Lawns down to the water’s edge provide the perfect spot to set up your tent, with easy access to the water for a dip in the heat of the day.

Do This
Bring your own equipment if you want to kayak, canoe or waterski. There are also hiking routes in the area, as well as an array of water sports and good birding.

Stay Here
The resort has four-, six- and ten-sleeper chalets as well as campsites. From R1000 per unit (sleeps four). Campsites from R400. 021-100-3689, rondeberg.com

Originally compiled by Jessica Oosthuyse and Lauren Dold

Image: supplied

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