The Easter long-weekend is a great time to reconnect with family, but what if you haven’t made plans in time? Try your luck at these lesser-known reserves, where you should be able to find a spot.

Anysberg Nature Reserve

This spot in the Klein Karoo is an ideal escape as it is within half a day’s reach of Cape Town and there are lots of fun activities to try.

Activities: We recommend Anysberg for its quiet and incredible night skies. The reserve has recently acquired telescopes and trained guides help point out constellations and planets. There’s a dam for kayaking (kayaks are available to hire). There’s also a jungle gym for kids and a pool for cooling off. Horse riding is another favourite activity and guests can choose from either a two-hour or two-day horse trail.

Contact: Reserve +27 (0)23 551 1922, CapeNature Central Reservations +27 (0)21 483 0190

A horseback ride offers a new perspective on Anysberg's open plains.

A horseback ride offers a new perspective on Anysberg’s open plains. Picture by Tamlin Wightman

Augrabies Falls National Park

This is the place of the thundering waterfalls also known by Khoi people as ‘Aukoerebis’, or place of great noise.

Areas of interest: The falls, Moon Rock, Swart Rante, Oranjekom and Ararat, and Echo Corner. Try the Dassie Nature Trail – a 5km self-guided hiking trail that leads you on a circular route. Night drives can be booked and mountain bikes are allowed.

Contact: Park +27 (0)54 452 9200, SANParks Central Reservations +27 (0)12 428 911, book online

The magnificent Augrabies Falls when the Orange River runs at full spate.

The magnificent Augrabies Falls when the Orange River runs at full spate. Picture courtesy of SANParks

Bon Accorde, Albert Falls Dam

This resort is located on the Eastern shores of the Albert Falls Dam and Game Reserve in KwaZulu-Natal. It’s a quick 20 km drive from Pietermaritzburg. We love Bon Accorde for its large dam and campsites situated along the water’s edge. Campsites are still available for the Easter weekend.

Activities: The nearby Albert Falls Game Reserve gives you the chance to go game viewing, there are nature trails, a squash court, jungle gym for kids, fishing, birdwatching and plenty of watersports to enjoy.

Contact: Resort +27 (0)33 569 1643

The chalets at Bon Accorde overlook Albert Falls Dam. Picture by Kate Collins

The chalets at Bon Accorde overlook Albert Falls Dam. Picture by Kate Collins

Golden Gate Highlands National Park

Golden Gate is a place where you can completely relax, surrounded by beautiful golden grasses, sandstone formations and herds of zebra, eland, blesbok and wildebeest. The reserve is nestled in the rolling foothills of the Maluti Mountains of the northeastern Free State and is only 350km away from Johannesburg, Bloemfontein and Pietermaritzburg.

Actvities: Hiking trails, short nature trails, game viewing, horse riding, absailing, canoeing, bowls, tennis, table tennis and snooker.

Contact: Park +27 (0)58 255 1000, SANParks Central Reservations +27 (0)12 428 911, book online

Golden Gate Hotel and Chalets. Picture by Rita van den Heever

Looking for a mountain adventure? Golden Gate Hotel and Chalets puts you at the heart of the Maluti Mountains. Picture by Rita van den Heever

Ithala Game Reserve

Ithala is a 400 km drive from Durban and just 500 km from Johannesburg. The reserve is steeped in history and evidence from Stone and Iron Age people can be seen. It has a rich diversity of vegetation and hosts a wide selection of insects, reptiles, amphibians and mammals.

Activities:  This reserve is a game viewer’s delight. Look for kudu, blue wildebeest, eland and giraffe amongst many others (commonly seen). Animals on the reserve, but not often seen, include buffalo, leopard, honey badger, elephant, brown hyaena, serval and black-backed jackal. Picnic sites are available.

Contact: Ezemvelo Central Reservations +27 (0)33 845 1000

Keep your eyes peeled for plains game at Ithala Nature Reserve. Picture by Eva Gutschmidt

Keep your eyes peeled for plains game at Ithala Nature Reserve. Picture by Eva Gutschmidt

Swartberg Nature Reserve 

The Swartberg Nature Reserve offers guests incredible mountain scenery in the historical valley of Die Hel. Overnight in Gamkaskloof (Die Hel) in cottages that once belonged to a small farming community. The traditional cottages are named after the people that used to live there and were restored with careful attention to detail.

Activities: There’s a 4×4 route and two hiking trails to choose from, mountain biking and lots of sightseeing to do… Angling is allowed in the Gamka River.

Contact: Reserve +27 (0)44 203 6300, CapeNature Central Reservations +27 (0)21 483 0190

Swartberg-courtCapeNature

Curious succulents, mountain fynbos, endless views, gorgeous kloofs… The Swartberg Nature Reserve has it all. Picture courtesy of CapeNature

Vrolijkheid Nature Reserve

This reserve is situated just outside of the small town of McGregor in the Western Cape. It’s a favourite destination for birders and for enjoying long walks. The reserve has two comfortable self-catering units that sleep four people each.

Activities: If you enjoy hiking then you’ll love this reserve. There’s a leisurely 3km walk that takes you to the reserve’s dams or a longer 19km hike through the Elandsberg. Vrolijkheid is a star destination for bird watching, boasting as many as 193 different species.

Contact: Reserve +27 (0)23 625 1621, CapeNature Central Reservations +27 (0)21 483 0190

Vrolijkheid is a serene place to relax and recharge your batteries. Picture by Kate Collins

Vrolijkheid is a serene place to relax and recharge your batteries. Picture by Kate Collins