What better way to spend a chilly winter’s evening than cuddling up by the fire in a cosy cottage? Head to these top spots for fireside fun. By Lucienne Argent
Golden Gate Highlands National Park: Basotho Cultural Village or Highlands Mountain Retreat
The Basotho Cultural Village in Golden Gate is a fantastic location for a family getaway. Accommodated in traditional rondavels, each with their own veranda and private braai facilities, guests get a chance to experience the authentic Sotho lifestyle and traditions. The elevated location provides ample opportunity for game viewing, without having to leave the comfort of your stoep, and the communal braai lapa allows all the families in the kraal to gather at night and listen to traditional stories, passed down from generation to generation. For those in search of more private lodgings, the log cabins at the Highland Mountain Retreat boast magnificent views and a very welcoming hearth.
What to see and do: Look out for the abundant wildlife, including eland, blesbok and oribi, take a guided herbal trail, learn about the traditional Sotho way of life and enjoy the sheer beauty of Golden Gate
Cederberg Wilderness Area: Algeria
Situated on the banks of the Rondegat River, Algeria is the perfect base camp for those looking to explore the various attractions that the Cederberg has to offer: great hiking opportunities, amazing stargazing and the possibility of snow on the higher peaks. If you’re more inclined to enjoy the tranquility from a cosy chair by the fire, you’ll love the new cottages with their wood-burning stoves. All the cottages have large picture windows that look out towards the Middelberg and they’re comfortably furnished for a relaxing stay.
What to see and do: Snow on the peaks of Sneeuberg, the renowned cedar tree, a host of day and overnight hikes and, if you’re lucky, a glimpse of the endemic Snow protea
Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary: Beehive Village or Reilly’s Rock Hilltop Lodge
If you’re looking for an original place to take your family this winter, the Swazi Beehive Village at Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary is well worth a visit. Arranged around a communal fireplace, the traditional grass-domed huts are simply furnished, but surprisingly spacious, some even including en suite bathrooms. The huts are within close proximity to the restaurant, curio shop and internet lounge, and guests have 24 hour access to the Mlilwane sanctuary. Ranging from the open plains of grassland to the Nyonyane Mountains, this diverse environment can be explored on foot, on horseback, by bike or in a safari vehicle. For the more discerning guest, Reilly’s Rock Hilltop Lodge offers colonial elegance and intimacy in an original 19th century home – and a roaring fire, of course! Make sure to take heaps of warm clothes, as temperatures can drop to -15 in the winter months.
What to see and do: Lots of big game, including white rhino, lion, leopard, elephant and hippo, as well as a range of birdlife. Activities include horse riding, mountain biking and guided hikes
Tankwa Karoo National Park: Elandberg Wilderness Camp
The key word for this destination is tranquillity. Just four hours from Cape Town, the appeal of Tankwa‘s breathtakingly stark landscape is the chance to do absolutely nothing but enjoy the silence and the imposing forms of the Roggeveld and Cederberg escarpments. Set in the Succulent Karoo Biome, the Elandsberg cottages are built from locally made clay-and-straw bricks and stone, and the simple, understated style is the perfect complement to the landscape. All fully equipped, these comfy-chic cottages offer great views of the Karoo and the living room fireplace is an added bonus.
What to see and do: Rare endemic plants, a variety of birdlife, breath-taking scenery and spectacular stars