Yearning for a winter getaway with good friends? Then try these Wild Card destinations. We’re talking Karoo braais, rustic romance and Swazi seduction, all perfect for a group of eight. By Arnold Ras

The laid-back lazybone recommends

Blev safari idag igen 🦁

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Ndlovu Camp at Hlane Royal National Park, Swaziland

Among the many accommodation options available at Big Game Parks of Swaziland, try Ndlovu Camp’s family self-catering cottage, or Big Hut, which is heaven for any laid-back traveller. Picture spending hours at waterholes to check out hippos and crocs, dinners at the camp’s large restaurant, siestas under ancient acacia trees, and endless birding opportunities. The hut, a transformed rondavel, has a double room, twin room, a loft with four single beds and shared bathroom with gas geyser. No electricity is available, so cue hours of chit-chat with lanterns as your only source of light.

Contact: Big Game Parks Central Reservations +268 528 3943, [email protected]
Rate: R470 a person a night for the first two guests, R255 an extra adult a night

The night owl recommends

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Motswere Guest Cottage at Marakele National Park

If seclusion and tranquility are a priority, Motswere Guest Cottage, once an old farmhouse in the pretty Waterberg, will be perfect. The cottage offers four bedrooms, two bathrooms, a fully equipped kitchen and even selected DStv channels. While there, book a sunset drive for possible sightings of elephant, leopard and lion. Don’t arrive too late as the cottage is about 27km from the park’s main gate and the sandy road is tricky to traverse. Come bedtime an early night may prove a challenge. The sounds of the night are known to be addictive and here you can enjoy them in stereo.

Contact: SANParks Central Reservations +27 (0)12 428 9111, [email protected]
Rate: R2,230 a night for the first four guests, R410 an extra adult a night

The free spirit recommends

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Narina Bush Camp at Addo Elephant National Park

At the foot of the Zuurberg, lies the spectacular Narina Bush Camp which is ideal for eight friends. The rustic forest camp, also accessible on horseback, consists of four tents, each with two single beds. With braai facilities, kitchen, toilet and shower, this is just the spot for a no-frills getaway. There’s no electricity, so night time promises star-filled skies. Come prepared: plan your menu in advance and make sure you pack all camping necessities, including firewood, for a weekend to go down in history. Since the dirt road leading to Narina stretches some 25km, a vehicle with high clearance is advisable.

Contact: SANParks Central Reservations +27 (0)12 428 9111, [email protected]
Rate: From R1,190 a night for the first four guests, R240 an extra adult a night

The chef recommends

Tanqua Guest House at Tankwa Karoo National Park

This is no ordinary guest house as next to the main building is a 900m airstrip for adventurous visitors to fly in. We’re sold! There are three bedrooms, each with two single beds, an en-suite bedroom with double bed, country yard and braai area, dining area with fireplace, and a dreamy stoep for breathtaking views of the Karoo. The main building boasts a larger-than-life kitchen. Here you can cook up a storm and entertain for days on end. Cold winter nights beg for Karoo lamb on the braai, in the slow cooker or roasted to perfection. Food, drink and good company are the order of the day.

Contact: SANParks Central Reservations +27 (0)12 428 9111, [email protected]
Rate: R1,185 a night for the first four guests, R240 an extra adult a night