The holidays may well be long forgotten, but who doesn’t make time for a picnic with loved ones? There are loads of inviting spots to choose from among the Wild Card’s more than 80 parks and reserves. Changing things up with a picnic next to cool water makes all the difference this summer. By Arnold Ras

Oudekraal

I remember fondly when I took my grandparents to Oudekraal – definitely one of Table Mountain National Park’s most gorgeous picnic spots with braai facilities. This incredible setting gives new meaning to a good old braai! I would suggest packing light – the steps down to the picnic area can become quite challenging when heavy bags and braai equipment are part of the equation. Clear ocean scenes and gripping views of the Twelve Apostles mountain range make for quality time with family or friends – in and out of the water. My gramps still refers to that day as “the best picnic of my life”. Oudekraal is situated between Camps Bay and Llandudno and yearly closes between 1 June and 30 September. Take note that alcohol is prohibited.

Opening times: Daily from 08:00 to 18:00
Conservation fee: R40 per person, R25 per child and free entrance for Wild Card members.
More info: +27 (0)21 438 9555

Keurbooms

There’s something about paddling to a secluded picnic spot that just says summer to me. Keurbooms River Nature Reserve offers three picnic sites along the banks of the picturesque Keurbooms River: Keurbooms Bridge, Stinkhoutskloof and Second Beach. Situated east of Plettenberg Bay, Keurbooms is a sublime choice for a day of picnicking, canoeing, kayaking and boating. This Garden Route destination and World Heritage Site is undoubtedly something to experience – fun in the sun and water while marvelling at a pocket of unspoilt nature. And pack your binoculars: bird species include the enchanting Knysna turaco, giant kingfisher, Knysna woodpecker, sunbirds, yellow-billed duck and many more.

Opening times: Daily from 07:00 to 20:00
Conservation fee: R40 per person, R20 per child and free entrance for Wild Card members.
More info: +27 (0)44 533 2125

Umlalazi

"Gracious goes the ghost of you"

A photo posted by Kurt O'Neill (@salt_light_sea_trees) on

Bliss! That’s about the most accurate way to describe a visit to this gorgeous coastal reserve known as Umlalazi Nature Reserve. Home to the raffia palm, the world’s largest palm, as well as thick coastal forests and dunes aplenty, the Umlalazi estuary is calling out for a picnic. I would pack a blanket, good food and a couple of cold ones. If you’re a water sport junkie, you will be in your element as the tranquil waters of the Umlalazi River are perfect for water-skiing, boating, canoeing, and surf and lagoon fishing. Oh, and try to spot the palm-nut vulture, one of the rarest birds of prey in South Africa.

Opening times: Daily from 05:00 to 22:00
Conservation fee: R20 per person, R10 per child and free entrance for Wild Card members.
More info: +27 (0)35 340 1836

Wagendrift

Celebrating Easter with Family! #easterweekend #Heisrisen #familyfun #midlandseaster #wagendriftdam

A photo posted by Megan (@megsloveforlife) on

Who would say no to a lazy day on a boat with the smell of braaivleis lingering in the air? Certainly not me. Just south of Estcourt, Wagendrift Dam Nature Reserve in KwaZulu-Natal offers rolling grasslands, a variety of water activities and views of the Drakensberg. Grab a picnic basket and your swim gear and make the most of this beautiful location. There’s ample space for youngsters to run around and frolic in Wagendrift’s cooling waters. Dads, freshwater fishing is allowed, so be sure to pack your rod. Top wildlife sightings include impala, bushbuck, mountain reedbuck, black wildebeest, zebra and Verreaux’s eagle.

Opening times: Daily from 05:00 to 19:00
Conservation fee: R30 per person, R15 per child and free entrance for Wild Card members.
More info: +27 (0)36 3525520

Shongweni

Now it really feels like #holiday #sunshine #familyday #shongwenidam #shongweni #happytimes

A photo posted by Nina Gray (@ninacgray) on

Only 30 minutes from Durban lies Shongweni Dam and Game Reserve, a National Heritage Site and picnic paradise for the whole family. With breathtaking views of Shongweni Hill, waterfalls and forests, Shongweni spells pure relaxation. While some people love being active, for me downtime is all about peace and quiet – Shongweni delivers both with non-motorised water sports such as sail-boating, canoeing and fishing. What’s the best way to spend the day? Boil a kettle on an open fire, sip on the day’s first cup of coffee and take a dip in the dam before gathering the troops for an unforgettable picnic lunch. Weekend visitors also have the opportunity to pick a picnic spot near the dam’s historic wall.

Opening times: Daily from 05:00 to 19:00
Conservation fee: R40 per person, R30 per child and free entrance for Wild Card members.
More info: +27 (0)31 765 7724

Where’s your favourite spot to picnic along the water’s edge? Let us know in the comments below.

We want to know what you did with your Wild Card over the December holidays. Share your adventures with us!

*Featured picture courtesy of Shutterstock