Winter may be a time to hibernate in the northern hemisphere, but in South Africa it’s a time to come out and play. Take a look at our roundup of five activities best enjoyed in winter. By Arnold Ras.

1. River rafting in Kogelberg

For those who want to push their adventure boundaries, head over to CapeNature’s Kogelberg Nature Reserve for an exhilarating white water rafting experience like no other. From June to September, as winter rains swell the mountain streams, the Palmiet River becomes a playground for rafting enthusiasts. It’s your chance to embark on a 5km route that takes about two hours to complete. But take note, this adrenalin-filled activity is for competent kayakers, so book a trip with a certified company to guide you through the rapids.

Bookings: Call CapeNature on +27 (0)21 483 0190 to find out more about certified river operators who provide gear and equipment.

How to get there

From Cape Town: Take the N2 north. Just before Sir Lowry’s Pass, turn right on to Sir Lowry’s Pass Road. At the T-junction in Gordon’s Bay, turn left on to the R44, following the road along the coast, past Pringle Bay and Betty’s Bay. Just before Kleinmond the Kogelberg sign will be visible. Take the dirt road to the left.

2. Bass fishing in Albert Falls

Visit the fourth biggest dam in KwaZulu-Natal stretching across approximately 2,500 hectares at Msinsi’s Albert Falls Dam and Nature Reserve and try your hand at bass-fishing. Enjoy the bone-warming winter sun and a warming cuppa while waiting for that big Florida or northern strain hybrid largemouth bass to bite. Albert Falls Dam is also the host of the annual Albert Falls Bass Classic at the end of August.

A zebra taking a stroll next the Albert Falls Dam. Photo by Kate Collins.

A zebra taking a stroll next the Albert Falls Dam. Picture by Kate Collins

Bookings: Contact Albert Falls’ reservation desk on +27 (0)33 569 1202 or send an email to [email protected].

How to get there

The reserve is situated 1,5km off the R33 (Greytown Road), 20km from Pietermaritzburg.

3. Game viewing in Kruger

Many say the best time to visit the Kruger National Park is during winter – vegetation is much less dense and chances to see various wildlife species are much better. A game drive (by night or day) should undoubtedly be on any winter holidaymaker’s to-do list.

Not sure what to look out for? Wild’s got you covered: the Big Five (buffalo, elephant, leopard, lion and rhino), the Little Five (buffalo weaver, elephant shrew, leopard tortoise, ant lion and rhino beetle), Birding Big Six (ground hornbill, kori bustard, lappet-faced vulture, martial eagle, Pel’s fishing owl and saddle-bill stork), Five Trees (baobab, fever tree, knob thorn, marula and mopane) and Cultural Five (Letaba Elephant Museum, Jock of the Bushveld Route, Albasini Ruins, Masorini Ruins, and Stevenson Hamilton Memorial Library).

A lappet-faced vulture in the Kruger. Photo by Romi Boom.

A lappet-faced vulture in the Kruger. Picture by Romi Boom

Bookings: Visit SANParks’ online booking page or call Central Reservations on +27 (0) 12 428 9111 or +27 (0) 82 233 9111. Alternatively send an email to [email protected].

How to get there

Click here to download a complete map of the Kruger National Park.

4. Birding in the Kgalagadi

The Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park is not only home to the black-maned lion, but also an impressive number of bird species. Ask a lot of birders where they prefer to photograph birds, and many would say the Kgalagadi. During the winter months desert temperatures in this colossal park (38,000m²) drop quite noticeably, making for more and better bird sightings (during summer months temperatures can soar to up to 42°C). Grab those binoculars and try and spot the park’s famous birds of prey.

A Verreaux's eagle-owl by Magriet Kruger.

A Verreaux’s eagle-owl by Magriet Kruger

Bookings: Contact SANParks Central Reservations on +27 (0) 12 428 9111 or call the park’s Twee Rivieren office on +27 (0)54 561 2000.

How to get there

The park’s main entrance is in the most northerly and remote part of South Africa’s Northern Cape. The closest commercial centre is Upington – 255km south of the park.

5. Hiking in Augrabies

Winter is undoubtedly the best time to go hiking in the Augrabies Falls National Park: the weather is a lot milder than during the scorching summer months. The park has two hiking trails for those keen to explore this remarkable landscape. Choose between the Dassie Trail, a 5km self-guided circular route, or the more intense three-day Klipspringer Trail, which leads hikers along the impressive granite gorge and back. Hikers should keep their eyes peeled for (amongst many other fauna and flora highlights) the rock dassie, Broadley’s flat lizard, klipspringer and Hartmann’s mountain zebra.

Who would say no to this view? Photo by Kate Collins.

Who would say no to this view? Picture by Kate Collins

Bookings: Contact SANParks Central Reservations on +27 (0)12 428 9111 or send an email to [email protected].

How to get there

Travel from Upington on the N14, which runs between Upington and Springbok, and turn right just after Kakamas. From here the park’s gate is 28km further.

Video by Open Africa