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Mini getaways perfect for a long weekend


Not sure where to go for the upcoming long weekends? Don’t stress, our team has a few suggestions!

How this year has flown! The summer holidays are long-forgotten, the tans have faded and we are ready for another holiday. Thank goodness for April — a month typically known (and loved) for its large number of public holidays in South Africa. And in 2020 we’re especially spoilt with the long weekend in April followed by Freedom Day (27 April) and Worker’s Day (1 May) in the same week — never mind the school holidays.

Many people grab this opportunity to tick international destinations off their bucket list, but some of us are still working back the time and money spent over December. However, don’t feel discouraged, South Africa offers great local destinations to visit! Why not grab this opportunity, sacrifice one or two days’ leave and explore our country while the weather is still great?

We asked around the office for the best local getaway recommendations that have been tried and tested by team Naked. Whether you are looking for somewhere new to visit or frantically trying to book a last-minute trip, we’ve got you covered!

Where to go as told by the Naked team

In 2019, IOL revealed statistics by Airbnb showing that South Africans are choosing to visit smaller towns over the April long weekend instead of the typical big cities. During 2019, the top destinations booked on Airbnb (in order) included Margate, Durban, Saldanha, Balitoville, Plettenberg Bay, Knysna, George, Mossel Bay and Hermanus. In addition to preferring slower towns, South Africans were also seen to prefer slower spaces such as farm stays, cottages and lodges.

Looks like our Naked team is right on track with their recommendations!

Clarens, Free State

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Clarens. It’s a small, trendy town in the Free State.

How far?

Three hours from Joburg, 4h30min from Durban.

Where to stay?

“We stayed in the Ou Kliphuis for a long weekend and it was wonderful! This quaint little one-bedroom flatlet (owned by Bruce Fordyce’s mother!) is attached to the main house that boasts a glorious garden worth experiencing. There are also some beautiful camping spots in the surroundings, but be geared for the cold, especially in winter.

If Ou Kliphuis isn’t available, don’t stress — there is no shortage of accommodation options in Clarens. Airbnb, Lekkeslaap and have lots of options. The accommodation options in town are typically owned by locals (other than the Protea and Mont d’Or hotels).

If you’re travelling by car, it’s worth looking for accommodation just outside of the Maluti Mountains. These are usually situated on a farm and offer fantastic views, like the Golden Gate Highlands National Park or Kiara Lodge.”

Where to eat?

“We had the loveliest trout and cream cheese pancakes at a cafe situated near the entrance of the town to the left (when looking into town) but I can’t remember the name for the life of me! And it was such a delightful meal in the late morning sun. Be sure to also try craft beer and trout when in Clarens.”

Other options: 278 on Main (best burgers), Clementines (landmark in Clarens, looks like a corrugated shed from the outside, comfort food), Clarens Brewery (one is SA’s first brew-pub, cidery and distillery. It has a bustling atmosphere, offers free beer tastings and a wide selection of german sausages), The Posthouse (must try the pan-fried trout) or breakfast at Artists Cafe or The Courtyard Cafe.

Best coffee?

“It was raining outside one day and we ran into Highlands Coffee Roastery by chance and we were pleasantly surprised! Their cappuccinos were delicious — exactly what we needed.”

What to do?

“Seeing the mountains on horseback at the Golden Gate Highlands National Park is a really special experience. We also went to see the bushman drawings in the overhanging cliffs — definitely worth the trek.

If you have enough time, here are a few other things that we loved doing in Clarens:

  • Hiking in the Golden Gate Highlands National Park. There’s endless, unspoilt beauty, huge sandstone formations, and zebras — entrance is free and it’s only 20 mins from Clarens
  • Walk around/shop Clarens Square. Check out the The Ugly Duckling and The Purple Onion
  • Golf at Clarens Golf Estate
  • Parkrun
  • Art galleries such as Blou Donki Art Gallery
  • Bibliophile Bookshop — it’s the red corrugated little bookstore
  • Clarens Country Market — it’s on every Saturday
  • And of course hot air ballooning with Hot Air Ballooning SA”

Graskop, Mpumalanga

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Graskop, Mpumalanga. It's a small town on the panorama route, surrounded by some of the most breathtaking sites available in South Africa.

How far?

Four hours out of Joburg.

Where to stay?

“I stayed at Flycatcher Castle, a very cute B&B with a castle theme. The owner is so hospitable and you are welcome to bring your dogs along and have them stay in your room — a must for dog lovers.

Other places that were on my list as backup options were the Westlodge B&B and Thaba Tsweni Lodge & Safaris”

Where to eat?

“We went to a small restaurant called Divine Foods at The View located inside Panorama Chalets. It's a cute little restaurant with the most amazing view to enjoy while you dine.

Other places that I tried and really liked were: the infamous Harries Pancakes and Graskop Gorge Lift Co”

What to do?

“I’m a big fan of hiking so Blyde River Canyon was high up on my list of things to do and it didn’t disappoint. It was one of the most memorable and scenic hikes I have ever been on.

God's Window viewpoint is an absolute must — the panorama landscape is unrivalled.

There is also Lisbon Falls which is beautiful. Bourke's Luck Potholes has really cool geological formations and the Three Rondavels is a great viewpoint.

If you’re looking for something more adventurous — from what I researched — Graskop Gorge Lift Co offers a lot of different ways to experience the sights including a big swing and zipline. I didn’t manage to check them out when I was there but I definitely will when I go back.

Most importantly I took my dogs on lots of hikes and to lots of restaurants (most are pet friendly) so they had an awesome time!”

Simons Town, Western Cape

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Simons Town. It’s a small town on the shores of False Bay, on the eastern side of the Cape Peninsula.

How far?

One hour from Cape Town

Where to stay?

“We stayed at an Airbnb in Boulder's Beach, Simon's town. The views of False Bay are spectacular, the air is fresh and taking a relaxing walk with penguins around was fun. Waking up with the bay in view felt like being on a boat, minus the sea sickness. Even better when you wake before sunrise — nothing like starting the day with a view like that. Makes you so grateful for our beautiful country.”

Where to eat?

“Definitely the Boulders Beach Lodge and Restaurant. They have the best white wine and garlic mussels.

We also went to the Black Marlin (although you should try to go during whale season between July and December because you might get lucky with some whale sightings). The Lighthouse Cafe and The Sweetest Thing Patisserie for a sweet or savoury afternoon treat and good coffee!”

What to do?

“Simons Town has more beaches than I expected. But there were 4 that we took a liking to: Seaforth Beach, Waters Edge Beach, Glencairn Beach, or Smitswinkel Bay Beach.

I recommend finding a good Airbnb or lodge and kicking back with some wine or beer while listening to the waves crash upon the shoreline. It's the most relaxing thing.

Seeing the penguins at Boulders Beach was great! It’s part of SAN Parks and has an awesome path from which you’ll be able to see the penguins in their natural habitat. If you’re feeling brave, you can also kayak to visit the penguins.

Why view the ocean from the side when you can be on it? We discovered these really cool water bikes for the adventurous souls in our group.”

Klipriviersberg Nature Reserve, Gauteng

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Klipriviersberg Nature Reserve. It's a nature reserve consisting of veld and koppies run by the Johannesburg City Parks, located 17 kilometres south of Johannesburg.

How far?

30 minutes from Joburg

Where to stay?

“I stayed at the Thaba Eco Hotel. If you’re looking to treat yourself — they offer some great packages. There is a spa and what they call “eco-drives” (like game-drives, but with a focus on ecology) in the Klipriviersberg Nature Reserve. I was also able to go on a hike.

One moment you’re in Jozi and the next you’re surrounded by nature.”

Where to eat?

“The hotel has a large restaurant, called Kraal, which overlooks the gardens. We started the evening off with G&Ts and then I chose the lamb curry for dinner — it was delicious. If you want to go out of the reserve or grab something to eat on your way home, there’s a Portuguese restaurant called Restaurante Parreirinha that has really good food for reasonable prices.”

What to do?

“I enjoyed the eco-drives. You can really learn a lot about nature on the eco-drive and if it's a special occasion, you can even book a romantic picnic. You can expect to see zebra, Springbok, Blesbok, Duikers and perhaps even a jackal if you’re lucky.

If you are looking to unwind and just kick back you definitely need to go on an Eco-drive and then the Spa, it is worth doing both and in that order.

Most of all, take nature in and go on a hike in the reserve!”

Magaliesburg, Gauteng

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Magaliesburg, Gauteng. It’s a small town situated below the Witwatersrand mountain range in Gauteng.

How far?

55 minutes from Joburg.

Where to stay?

Sima Kade Bush Retreat is perfect if you want an off-the-grid getaway, surrounded by nature. The retreat has three accommodation options — a Bush Camp, Sky Terrace and Cave House. They’re all self-catering and ideal for groups. Obviously, the best (and only option) is to braai under the stars with friends.

If the weather is still warm enough, you have to try the natural rock pool, especially after a short hike. We spent the entire day lazing on the rocks, taking in the sun and dipping into the natural pools when it got too hot.

Basically all you want to do at Sima Kade is relax and enjoy switching off.

If Sima Kade is fully booked, have a look at Thirsty Falls.

Where to eat?

Black Horse Brewery was a favourite of ours. It’s situated on the Magalies River. You can enjoy their beer or restaurant under the Pecan trees. Their pizzas are so good!

If you’re keen on going to places that feel like home — especially when there’s a big Sunday Roast, Trading Post Coffee Shop and Deli is the place to be. They offer good old favourites like melkkos and ginger beer.”

What to do?

“If you’re keen on doing chilled activities like us, then head over to Mountain Sanctuary Park — a nature reserve in the Magaliesberg Mountains. The park has awesome options for day visitors, like picnics, braai areas, hiking trails and mountain pools to enjoy.

On our way home, we stopped over at The Strawberry Farm and discovered their strawberry cheesecake — so good! We also found out that you can go strawberry picking — check out when strawberries are next in season.”

Matroosberg Nature Reserve, Western Cape

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Matroosberg Nature Reserve outside Ceres.

How far?

2h15min from Cape Town (35km from Ceres).

Where to stay?

“The reserve offers several accommodation options — we stayed at the ski hut. It is small but weirdly accommodated our large group. The hut is open plan with no bedrooms. Everyone sleeps next to each other on mattresses in a studio-type set-up — if you’re in bed, you can easily chat with someone who’s in the kitchen. There are also no curtains so everyone wakes up with a 180-degree view of the sun rising over the mountains — what a way to wake up!

There’s no electricity (but there are hot showers) so it really makes for a totally off-the-grid getaway. It’s basically the best way to camp.”

Where to eat?

“The ski hut forced us to think outside the box in terms of catering since the reserve has no electricity and is completely self-catering — we figured that the best option was to braai. We made potjie on the open fire and also had burgers. Lots of cups of coffee and rusks were had. And of course sundowners every evening on the rock.

A tip: pack your own sharp knives, proper wine glasses and travel lights.”

What to do?

“We couldn’t visit the Matroosberge and not go for a hike. We did a 6-hour hike to the highest peak in the Boland. It’s quite a long day so opt for a shorter route if you’re not feeling up to it. If you go during winter, it’s totally worth it to do the long hike and see snow. It was freezing but the views made it so worth it. Tip: pack loads of snacks and water.

The ski hut has a huge rock formation in front of it — the perfect backdrop for reading a book or sundowners.

Furry four-legged friends are welcome too 🐶🎉.”

Hopefully these ideas give you some direction if you’re unsure of where to go. And if you’re planning on staying home over the long weekend, don’t forget about these when you want to book a sneaky getaway in the future!

If you’re planning to drive, keep in mind that you should check that your car is safe and ready to go. We’ve put together a 7-step checklist for you here.

Hero image credit: Photo by Arthur Brognoli from Pexels


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