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Eight reasons why we love South Africa in the wintertime

Despite summer seemingly hanging around for longer this year (yes, global warming is a real thing!), the mornings and evenings are definitely beginning to feel cooler. While the die-hard summer fans will be psyching themselves up for the upcoming chiller weather, we’ll be getting excited over all the reasons why we’re about to fall in love with our country all over again come lower temperatures. Here are just a few of them…

Winter specials for the win

Who doesn’t love a good deal? Along with chunky knits, grey skies and hot chocolate, winter tends to bring along a healthy dose of specials too. You can expect lower rates with things are a lot quieter thanks to fewer crowds – the perfect combination for a sneaky winter break that delivers all the usual fun for less.

Click here to see Portfolio’s current specials.

Best time for safari adventures

In case you didn’t know, the winter months (May to October, with July being optimal) is peak game viewing time. The dry season means a lack of grass and thick bush which is the ideal recipe for increasing visibility and ensuring wildlife sightings at their best. Creatures tend to congregate around the watering holes, making it much easier to know where to find them and catch a glimpse.

Want to know the best area for your private safari? Read this.

Check out Portfolio’s selection of safari lodges.

Wine-tasting is that much sweeter

Crackling fires. The winter hues of the vineyards. Platters for days. Delicious tasting menus. And, of course, belly-warming vino… Honestly, nothing sounds more inviting than this! South Africa is blessed with some of the most exquisite wine farms and even more exquisite wines all year round, but there’s something special about venturing out on wine-tasting missions when it’s cold outside. Mmmm...

Read our blog for some wine estate lunching inspiration.

Why not make a weekend of it and book to stay somewhere in the magical Cape Winelands? Click here to find the perfect place.

Head for the hills

Now this may come as a surprise to some, but the wintertime can in fact present an amazing opportunity to head out into nature on a hike. The cooler weather often makes for a much more enjoyable outdoor experience, especially for those who love to be outside but don’t handle the baking heat of the summer too well. As long as the weather isn’t too wet which can make certain paths treacherous, you’re good to break out those hiking boots and get those legs working.

Bonus: Places in the country that experience wet winters will also be greener at this time of year, making for extra lush scenery.

Mpumalanga is known for its mild winters – here are six strolls to consider.

Looking for hikes in and around the Mother City? Read this.

Isn’t that swell?

Surfers hit the waves as often as they can throughout the year, but it has to be said that during the cooler months they’re likely get out there even more frequently. This is most probably due to the fact that the waters are generally warmer and the waves bigger – a surfer’s dream.

Head to Jeffreys Bay for hands down the biggest and the best - see our accommodation options here.

The whales and sharks come out to play

We love this time of year because it signals the chance to get better acquainted with some of the creatures of the depths. It’s the much-anticipated whale-watching season (July to October, with September being the most popular) when these mighty mammals come to the South African coastline to mate and calve. Both locals and internationals flock to various seaside towns to watch them frolicking in the waters, with sleepy Hermanus being a popular choice. Winter is also a time for our sharky friends to shine. Great Whites tends to be more active because the water is warmer and with the winter storms blowing at the plankton-rich surface, visibility is at its best for those brave enough to go shark-cage diving.

Gansbaai is known for its abundance of sharks and is an excellent choice for those wanting to have an unforgettable shark-cage diving experience. Stay at the lovely Sea Star Lodge.

Nature’s underwater extravaganza

Each year, between the months of May and July, people flock to see the “Greatest Shoal on Earth”: the amazing phenomenon that is the epic Sardine Run. Billions of sardines move northwards along the east coast of South Africa in search of warmer waters, causing nothing short of a feeding frenzy for other aquatic animals like seals, dolphins and sharks. It is truly incredible to witness, something which is done from either air or sea and with the shoals often being more than 7km long, you can’t miss them.

Best places to see this feat of nature: northern Eastern Cape and southern KwaZulu-Natal coastlines.

Let it snow

Whilst for the most part, temperatures don’t drop low enough in our country to result in everywhere being covered in a thick blanket of white, there are those few special places that do experience flashes of the good stuff, some even enough to facilitate skiing (although the best skiing in southern Africa is undoubtedly in Lesotho). Matroosberg, 35km from Ceres, gets heavy snowfall almost every year, whilst Cathedral Peak, which forms a part of the well-known Drakensberg Mountains, is also no stranger to snow. Long Tom Pass, the Mpumalanga pass that is one of the highest tarred roads in the country, makes for a great spot from which to admire the snow (granted that conditions are favourable). The quaint southern Drakensberg villages of Underberg and Himeville can be excellent bases for exciting 4x4 trips up the famous Sani Pass.

Click here for Underberg accommodation options and here for Portfolio’s Himeville selection.

It’s not hard to see why, with so much to look forward to, it’s easy to banish those winter blues and enjoy the many delights that accompany the lower mercury. So get those planning caps on - winter is coming!

Contact our super helpful res team for assistance in finding that perfect winter getaway spot.

Main image: Cleopatra Mountain Farmhouse