20 places to escape the crowds this Christmas

Posted on 25 November 2013

When it comes to the Christmas crowds, you get two types of people – lovers and haters. Some can’t wait until the braai areas at campsites are full to the brim with happy, noisy families and friends enjoying the sunshine and having a good time. But others do their best to escape the crowds, the queues and the noise levels. If you fall in the second category, then this blog is for you.

Where to escape the Christmas crowds

1.Quiet Mountain Country Lodge – Hartbeespoort Dam, Gauteng

Only one hour from Johannesburg and Pretoria, this cottage’s name is already reason enough to believe that there is peace to be found at the Hartbeespoort Dam during the festive season.

You should go because the homestead dates back to the 1800s and is set on on 100ha of bush, inside a pretty, manicured garden.
Sleeps 18 (nine rooms sleep two each)
Costs from R895 a person a night sharing. Dinner, bed, breakfast, room service and early morning tea is included
Contact 014-576-1258, [email protected]www.quietmountain.co.za

Other accommodations at Hartbeespoort Dam

2. Appelkooskop Cottage – Bredasdorp, Western Cape

After dodging a herd of sheep and making your way up a lonely hill beyond Bredasdorp, you’ll see a solitary stone house in the valley with a windmill as the only evidence of human life.

You should go because it’s a snug version of a classic farmhouse, has no electricity, but the kitchen comes complete with sturdy wooden table and chairs and a gas-powered stove and fridge.
Sleeps 4
Costs From R300 a person a night sharing
Contact 082-494-3346, [email protected]Facebook page

Book here

3. Highgrove Guest House – between Hazyview and White River, Mpumalanga

A classic look into life on a colonial farmstead, life at Highgrove revolves around gourmet cuisine and the picturesque surroundings so typical of the Mpumalanga Lowveld.

You should go because you won’t have to lift a finger, and not many can say that, especially during the mad holiday season. It’s the perfect place to escape your maddening in laws.
Sleeps 16
Costs from R2035 a person a night sharing
Contact 083 675 1500, [email protected]www.highgrove.co.za

Other accommodation in White River

4. Driftwood Cabin – Suiderstrand, Western Cape

A lonely gravel road from Cape Agulhas takes you to Suiderstrand, where this stilted wooden house seems to smile at you. Fully equipped to self-cater, you’ll enjoy happy family meals around the large dining table and nights of board games.

You should go because Suiderstrand is so sleepy, there isn’t even a single shop or cafe on the mostly gravel roads. You can also sit on the massive balcony and watch the sea every single day.
Sleeps 4
Costs From R1000 a night for the house.
Contact 021-786-4760,

Book it

5. Papkuilsfontein Guest Farm – Niewoudtville, Northern Cape

These remote stone cottages are surrounded by beauty and there’s no electricity (only gas-fired plumbing for showers). There’s really not getting any further away from the festive throngs.

You should go because You get to stay in an old stone cottage, high up on the summit of a wild mountain plateau, surrounded by geological rock formations and fynbos. What’s not to love?
Sleeps 14 in six two- and four-sleeper cottages
Costs From R350 a person sharing
Contact 027-218-1246, [email protected]www.papkuilsfontein.com

Book it


6. Inversanda Farm Cottages – Howick, KwaZulu Natal

You’ll find this farm house literally at the end of a gravel road travelling through the scenic Dargle Valley. Although the units are self-catering, you can request meals if you’re having too much fun relaxing.

You should go because you can fish, walk or swim anywhere on the farm and you get to participate in the goings on on the farm.
Sleeps 2 per unit
Costs from R330 a person sharing
Contact 082 772 1621, www.inversanda.co.za

Other accommodation in Howick

7. Leliekloof Valley of Art – Jamestown, Eastern Cape

You’ll get the complete farm experience by sharing the massive farm house with the owners. Don’t worry, they’ll be the only people that you don’t know as they only cater for one group at a time.

You should go because the rock art on the farm is amazing, but you can also enjoy fly fishing, walking, bird watching and taking part in the daily farm activities.
Sleeps 15
Costs from R500 full board and R200 self-catering
Contact 087-550-0589, [email protected]www.leliekloof.co.za

8. KolKol Mountain Lodge – Bot River, Western Cape

These log cabins look out over an expansive fynbos valley (part of Kogelberg Biosphere Reserve) and they are fully equipped to self cater.

You should go because the hot tub on the stone porch looks out over this beautiful reserve. Don’t worry, your neighbours can’t see you.
Sleeps between two and 10
Costs from R780 a night for two guests
Contact 028-284-9406, www.kolkol.co.za

Book it

9. Thirsty Falls Guest Farm – Magaliesburg, North West Province

You’ll find these three cottages deep in the heart of the Magaliesberg Mountains. They’re fully-equipped, self-catering and consist of either one or two bedrooms.

You should go because you’ll have complete privacy and the views from the shaded patio are absolutely amazing.
Sleeps 2-4
Costs from R250 a person a night sharing
Contact 082-464-7376, [email protected]www.thirstyfalls.co.za

 10. Tharfield Farm and Guest Cottage – Port Alfred, Eastern Cape

You’re guaranteed as little time as possible slaving away in this kitchen, as there’s no electricity to make you do so. You can choose between the River Treehouse and the self-catering Fishermans Beach Cabin or Farm Cottage.

You should go because the river treehouse is literally a room perched in a tree – there’s no way you’ll be bothered by the Christmas crazies.
Sleeps 2
Costs R1290 a person a night and includes meals and activities.

11. Jo Anne’s Beach Cottage – West Coast National Park, Western Cape

This fully equipped self-catering cottage is surrounded by nothing but tranquility and beauty and is situated only two hours from Cape Town.

You should go because the cottage is walking distance from the lagoon, the house stands on its own (removed from the crowds) and you’ll have a braai on your front and back porch. You’ll also be inside the magnificent West Coast National Park.
Sleeps 8
Costs R1310 a night for the unit
Contact 022- 772-2144, [email protected], www.sanparks.org

Check out more incredible photos from the West Coast National Park taken by Scott Ramsay


12. Out in Africa –Wild Coast, Eastern Cape

This tour company turned backpacker-style permaculture project is situated in a remote village at the Magwa Falls, just inland from the Wild Coast. It’s ideal for someone interested in a bit of community work far away from towns, tarred roads and lots of people. You can also opt to do absolutely nothing if you so wish.

You should go there because you literally have nothing but nature (and a few huts) on your doorstep and you get to volunteer a little and learn about a sustainable lifestyle. Televisions are replaced with drumming and fire dancing.
Sleeps uncertain. If the house is full you can camp out on the grass.
Costs R1750 a person for a week (three meals daily included)
Contact 083-268-5611, [email protected], www.beoutinafrica.com.


13. Desert Wind – Klein Karoo, Western Cape

Our web editor, Sarah Duff, almost didn’t want to tell us about this amazing far-from-it-all haven. The self-catering house has everything from wood-fired jacuzzi to a family of friendly alpaca’s. Read her review here.

You should go there because the private 2000-hectare game farm offers you miles of beautiful wide open Karoo landscapes and you can either do absolutely nothing or go horse riding, quad biking, clay pigeon shooting, hiking and mountain biking.
Sleeps 10 in one cottage and four in another.
Costs R1900 a night for the ten-sleeper and R760 a night for the four-sleeper.
Contact 021-658-7100, [email protected],?www.desertwind.co.za


14. Blesfontein guest farm – Sutherland, Northern Cape

This beautiful farm with it’s wide variety of farm animals will keep the kids busy while the plains game will entertain the parents on a game drive. A range of self-catering, catered rooms and cottages are available.

You should go there because you’ll be close enough to the peaceful town of Sutherland to see a few people if you so wish, but you’re far enough to pretend they don’t exist. It’s also rather pretty in these parts.
Sleeps between two and five per unit
Costs from R180 a person a night sharing
Contact 023-571-2631, 083-444-5810 or visit Discover Sutherland.

Read more about the beautiful town of Sutherland here


15. Lakeview Lodge – Nelspruit, Mpumalanga

Situated just outside Nelspruit, this spot of relaxation has lots of trees, a swimming pool and a dam and it’s the perfect place to escape the summer heat. Choose between self-catering cottages and camping and spend your time hiking, spotting birds, fishing or relaxing in the restaurant.

You should go there because the entire place sleeps no more than 50 guests, letting you relax in peace but without removing you from reality entirely.
Sleeps between two and nine people per chalet.
Costs from R200 a person a night sharing
Contact 013-741-4312, [email protected], www.lakeviewlodge.co.za


16. Blue Roan Guest Farm – Magaliesburg, Gauteng

Just five minutes from the town of Magaliesburg, these six self-catering cottages are only 70km from both Johannesburg and Pretoria. It’s ideal for couples seeking a romantic Christmas away from the extended families.

You should go there because each cottage is private and they don’t allow groups or children so you can enjoy the walking trails and swimming pool in peace and quiet.
Sleeps two per cottage
Costs R450 a person a night sharing
Contact 014-577-0237, [email protected], www.blueroan.co.za.


17. Lightleys Holiday Houseboats – Port Alfred, Eastern Cape

Escape to the water on either a self-catering or catered houseboat holiday with either your family or your loved one.

You should go there because you can be the captain of your own boat, steering it anywhere along the 15km section of the Kowie River.
Sleeps either two or four
Costs from R462 a person a night sharing
Contact 044-386-0007, [email protected], www.houseboats.co.za or book through SafariNow.

Read: Six of the best houseboats in southern Africa


18. Kareedal Lodge – Free State

The 1100-hectare farm of Kareedal is the perfect place to escape to and enjoy a farm stay our in the open. They even offer a shuttle servie from Bloemfontein and back, so when everyone living in Bloem goes off to the busier regions, you can take advantage of the quiet surroundings.

You should go there because you’ll be able to enjoy the most amazing sunrises (or sunsets if you feel like sleeping in) and you might even come across some free roaming game.
Sleeps 16 in total, divided between the farmhouse and two cottages
Costs from R200 a person a night sharing
Contact Book either through Getaway Accommodation


19. Slievyre Game Farm – KwaZulu-Natal

This private nature reserve is 10km from Estcourt and the closest town to this is Ladysmith. Therefore you won’t have a problem finding peace and quiet in these self-catering chalets.

You should go there because the five cottages are in a fenced area, but you’re surrounded by 1000 hectare of pristine bushveld where you can spot giraffe, kudu, waterbuck, zebra and wildebeest.
Sleeps five in each of the five cottages
Costs from R250 a person a night sharing
Contact 036-352-2866, [email protected] or book through Getaway Accommodation


20. Forest Creek Lodge – Mpumalanga

Situated in a gorge of the Steenkampsburg Mountains and set within a private nature reserve of the Mpumalanga escarpment, this magnificent piece of land offers both luxury suites and self-catering options.

You should go there because you’ll feel like you’ve escaped to a different world as you walk along the tree-lined trails. There is also a Forest Spa where you can pamper yourself further.
Sleeps two adults per suite or cottage, but small children are welcome.
Costs from R1200 a night for a self-catering cottage and R1300 a person a night sharing for a luxury suite (dinner and breakfast included)
Contact 013-235-8925, [email protected], www.forestcreek.co.za

Read: Six free things to do in Mpumalanga

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