Plan a fun-filled al fresco feast, even when the days are getting shorter, in our all-time favourite picnic spots. By Arnold Ras

The High Flier

Where: N’wanetsi in Kruger National Park

Enjoy the sounds and sightings at this rustic picnic spot while your picnic fire blazes, then wander off to the lookout deck. The highlight is the cliff-top viewpoint, with a 180-degree view of the Lebombo Mountains and N’wanetsi River. Keep your eyes peeled for the hundreds of bird species and other wildlife that call Kruger home. Refuel and relax before heading to your next stop.

Contact: Satara Reception, +27 (0)13 735 6306/7

The Parent

Where: Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary

Moms and dads will score brownie points after spoiling the kids with a picnic at Mlilwane in the heart of Swaziland. Here impala, warthog and nyala roam free; please remember not to feed the animals. A swimming pool and children’s play area provide added entertainment. Gather the troops and inspire them with a visit to the Interpretation Centre to learn about Mlilwane’s intriguing history and its environment.

Contact: Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary, +268 2528 3943/4

The Riverside Rambler

Where: Nkuhlu in Kruger National Park

Situated on the banks of the picturesque Sabie River in the park’s Maroela Region between Skukuza and Lower Sabie, the Nkuhlu Picnic Site offers a viewing deck to encounter Kruger’s impressive hippos and crocodiles up close and personal. Relax under Natal mahogany trees and make use of the site’s gas braais or traditional braai facilities for an outdoor feast on the river’s edge. Don’t forget your binoculars as wildlife is in abundance.

Contact: Skukuza Reception, +27 (0)13 735 4196

The Water Baby

Where: Shongweni Dam & Nature Reserve

Waterfalls, forests, water sports and fishing, what more could you wish for? This National Heritage Site near Durban encompasses 51 hectares of water and is a picnic paradise for the whole family. Lay a blanket next to the dam, enjoy spectacular views of Shongweni Hill and let the youngsters run free. If you’re planning a weekend visit, arrive early and choose a spot near the dam’s historic wall, built in the 1920s.

Contact: Shongweni Dam & Nature Reserve, +27 (0)31 765 7724

The Beach Bum

Where: Oudekraal in Table Mountain National Park

Oudekraal, between Camps Bay and Llandudno, is one of South Africa’s most beautiful picnic destinations. Surrounded by giant boulders and views of the Twelve Apostles buttresses, the relatively shallow, crispy-clear ocean is a playground for young and old alike. Make use of the facilities and leave all that heavy braai equipment home. Each spot offers a unique setting, perfect for a no-sweat picnic lunch. Life’s a beach…

Contact: Oudekraal Picnic and Braai Site, +27 (0)21 712 7471

The Forest Fairy

Where: Krisjan-se-Nek in Garden Route National Park

Spend quiet time surrounded by lush forest and green pastures in the Knysna section of this national park at Krisjan-se-Nek Picnic Site, which is also the start of the 3km or 9km Circles in the Forest hiking trails. Pack your swimwear as there are several waterholes to cool down in or unwind by playing ball games on the large lawns. Wooden tables, benches, braai facilities and ablutions are available.

Contact: Diepwalle Forest, +27 (0)44 382 9762

The Fisher

Where: Cobham Nature Reserve

Anglers will fall hook, line and sinker for the rolling grasslands, valleys and gorges of the uKhahlamba-Drakensberg Park. Make fresh-water fishing in the Pholela River a family affair and take time out next to the water to reconnect with loved ones. Cobham has no braai facilities, so you will have to pack your own kit. Remember, only fly tackle is permitted and you need to obtain a permit at the Cobham office.

Contact: Cobham Nature Reserve, (0)33 702 0831

The Earth Child

Where: Matopi at Mokala National Park

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Picture unspoilt nature, sightings such as the black springbok, and no fences! Mokala, 70km from Kimberley, is known not only for red sandscapes, but also signature Kalahari thornveld transforming the landscape into an almost mystical environment. Make memories with a soulful picnic, have a down-to-earth braai, or simply be quiet and content in nature. There’s a bird hide for twitchers close by.

Contact: Mokala National Park +27 (0)53 204 8000

Picnic with pizzazz: Wild’s gourmet picnic salad

  • Wild rocket
  • Gorgonzola chunks
  • Cashew nuts
  • Black olives
  • Red onion rings
  • Rosa tomatoes, cut in half
  • Whole red grapes
  • Raw enoki mushrooms
  • Melon slices

Toss the ingredients together with some olive oil, lemon juice or red-wine vinegar, honey, salt and pepper, and it’s ready.