Where to travel! South African travel news and inspiration – June 2024

12 Jun 2024
We're always on the lookout for fresh and interesting places to stay and what's new in local travel news. In our latest travel update we share the rundown of hotel news, trends, new venues, and enticing local travel offers you don't want to miss. Here are some places we're adding to our travel wishlist. 

FynArts, wine, and whales in Hermanus

Winter is one of the most exciting times to visit the coastal town of Hermanus. Early June ushers in the start of the whale season (which runs until the end of November) while the Hermanus FynArts Festival brings a vibrant mix of art to town, with everything from visual and performance art to literature, culinary delights, and music. The festival is currently underway and runs until Mon, Jun 17. Tickets are still available; book them here.
Work by Strijdom van der Merwe on show at the FynArts Festival in Hermanus. Photo: Supplied,

While you’re in town, the Hemel en Aarde wine valley comes highly recommended for wine tastings and a good meal. Book a hop-on-hop-off wine safari with Wine Hoppers Safari Tours with stops at some of the country's best wine estates, including Creation Wines which has won a list of accolades, including being named the number-one vineyard in Africa in the World’s Best Vineyards Awards for the past three years.
The Marine Hotel in Hermanus is perched on the town's cliff path. Photo: Supplied.
Explore the Hemel en Aarde valley with a hop-on-hop-off wine tour. Photo: Wine Hoppers via Instagram.

When it comes to booking a place to stay, we think The Marine in the heart of town is just the place. Located on Hermanus’s famous cliff path with beautiful vistas over Walker Bay, this seaside hotel has been dubbed the Grand Old Lady of Hermanus. It’s perfectly positioned to explore the town or unwind in the elegant yet laid-back setting. Our favourite drawcard is whale watching from the comfort of your room – or bathtub – in its sea-facing rooms. They’re running a special 'stay for three nights, only pay for two' until Sat, Aug 24. Visit the website for more information or to book.

The Sardine Run returns to the South Coast

Join in on festivities like the Sardine Extravaganza taking place along the South Coast during the Sardine Run. Photo: South Coast Tourism and Investment Enterprise.

From the big fish in Walker Bay to the smaller varieties on the South Coast, the Sardine Run takes place annually between May and July. Known as the “Greatest Shoal on Earth”, it marks the annual movement of large shoals of sardines into the waters of southern KwaZulu-Natal, bringing with it not only a fair bit of excitement in the water but also along its sunny shores. Several activities are planned for this time of the year, from the Sardine Extravaganza which takes place on beaches across the South Coast from Fri, Jun 14 – Sun, Jul 7 to golf tournaments, marathons, and the annual Ugu Maskandi Festival in Gamalakhe just outside Margate which happens on Sat, Sep 28.

Time for the Durban July

Of course, the highlight on the social calendar in Durban is the annual Hollywoodbets Durban July. This year the country’s most anticipated horse racing event takes place on Sat, Jul 6 and is sure to attract exquisite outfits, fine hats, and South Africa’s socialite society. Tickets are available online. The theme this year is 'Ride the Wave'; don’t say you weren’t warned…

Tulbach’s Christmas in Winter

If you’ve been dreaming of having a Christmas straight from a movie scene, head to the Boland town of Tulbach where Christmas is again coming early this year. The annual Christmas in Winter festival was started in 2001 and brings together everything to love about Christmas in the heart of a Western Cape winter: markets, the Farmers Electric Light Parade, a children’s winter wonderland, wine tastings, glittering lights, street bars, live music, hearty lunches, and warm log fires that just aren't practical over December. This year’s festival takes place from Fri, Jun 28 – Sun, Jun 30. Tickets are available online.

A new Drakensberg nature reserve

South Africa’s Drakensberg mountains have a new nature reserve. The 6,500-hectare Northern Drakensberg Nature Reserve connects the uKhahlamba Drakensberg Park in KwaZulu-Natal, which is a World Heritage Site, to the Royal Natal Nature Reserve, Poccolan Nature Reserve, and the Sterkfontein Nature Reserve in the Free State. Its establishment will go a long way towards preserving rock art, grasslands, and water sources, and acts as an important new wildlife migration corridor, which will be a treat for those looking to do hikes or book holidays in the area.

There’s still time to book SunBreaks' winter deals

If you need to add some sunshine to the dreary winter days that have settled over Joburg recently, book a winter Southern Sun Hotels SunBreaks escape with stays from just R1,400 in Durban, R1,595 in Cape Town, and R1,445 in Joburg per family room per night, including breakfast for two people. Two children under 18 stay and eat breakfast for free when sharing with two adults in a family room. Rates are valid for stays from Fri, Jun 14  Sat, Jul 14. For more information or to book visit the website.
Mount Grace in Magaliesburg makes for a lovely country escape. Photo: Supplied.

You’re spoilt for choice around Joburg with iconic properties like 54 on Bath, Sandton SunSouthern Sun Hyde Park, Southern Sun Sandton, Southern Sun Rosebank, Southern Sun Katherine Street (a nice pet-friendly option), and Southern Sun Pretoria. In Cape Town, we love the Southern Sun Cape Sun and The Cullinan, and in KwaZulu-Natal, there’s the Drakensberg Sun and Southern Sun Elangeni & Maharani. We’ll soon be checking into Mount Grace in Magaliesburg to experience the country retreat for ourselves and will report back soon. Watch this space.

The Four Seasons has a new look

Now is the perfect time to book a stay at Four Seasons Hotel The Westcliff. Photo: Supplied.

The views alone are worth booking a stay at the Four Seasons Hotel The Westcliff. With several special offers currently running, this might be your sign to book that staycation. On selected dates between Mon, Jun 10 and Tue, Dec 31, you can book a Joburg Getaway (15% off on selected weekend getaways) or stay two nights and get the third for free. Do you even need any more reason to go?

Travel essentials: Thule Subterra 2 backpack review

If the journey is as much part of the experience as the destination, surely there’s something to be said for the accessories you take with. We’re suckers for a good piece of luggage – whether it’s a suitcase, duffel bag, backpack, or sling bag – and have recently had the pleasure of putting the 21-litre Thule Subterra 2 backpack to the test.

As the best-selling luggage collection from the Swedish brand, the Subterra range has been given a recent update to reflect a contemporary new look. It's designed for the 'urban adventurer' and perfect for the modern-day traveller moving between workday and weekend.

From a sustainability point of view, all items in the range are made with Bluesign-approved materials, meaning they are produced in a way that reduces their impact on people and the environment. Tick.
The new 21-litre Thule Subterra 2 backpack. Photo: Supplied.

We opted for the Dark Slate colour, one of two new colours in the range alongside Vetiver Gray. It’s a deep green that’s dark enough to avoid showing dirt and scuff marks but far more fun than plain black, which means it will stand out. Tick again. 

The thing we love most about this backpack is its brilliant interior organisational features. It has padded sleeves for your laptop, tablet, and laptop cable, and sufficient pockets, zips, and compartments (also padded) to keep loose items safe and stored without taking away from the spacious carry capacity that you’re looking for in a backpack. It's easy to take to work and the perfect size for a night pack if you don’t feel like carrying bulky bags. It has sufficient space to add a camera, jacket, or several loose items – perhaps even one or two souvenirs – without becoming too unwieldy if you need to add it to an overhead compartment or stash it at your feet.  
The Thule Subterra 2 backpack in Black. Photo: Supplied.

The zips slide like a dream and tuck into clever loops to provide an additional element of theft protection (always a bonus when travelling). It has two pockets for water bottles, umbrellas, or other items that can be stashed on the side. Another nifty feature is a back security pocket that we imagine will come in handy when travelling with a passport. It’s also water resistant, light, and can be strapped to your carry-on luggage.

This backpack is a welcome addition to a traveller's arsenal of luggage. The Thule Subterra PowerShuttle is already a staple in our travel pack list as a convenient case for all our cables and chargers that need to be taken on trips. New additions to the Subterra collection include a tote, sling, and crossbody bag – accessories we think will complement a growing luggage collection well.

This wouldn’t necessarily be our pick for a hiking trip, but if you’re thinking of investing in a medium-sized, reliable, practical, yet sleek backpack for work or leisure travel, this one has our stamp of approval.

Fine dining and luxury estates bucket list: Vergenoegd Löw

A Vineyard Suite at Vergenoegd Löw. Photo: Supplied.

Our bucket list keeps growing. As far as fine dining and luxury stays are concerned, the latest property to make it onto our radar is Vergenoegd Löw, one of the oldest working farms in South Africa. Dating back to 1773, it's a national monument and wine farm that offers a beautiful escape in Stellenbosch with a spa and on-site restaurants that serve up what looks to be scrumptious bites. Clara's Barn (which takes the title of being housed in the oldest barn in South Africa) and Geuwels Restaurant were started by South African Chef Bertus Basson and are run by Chef Drikus Brink who takes inspiration from farm kitchens and seasonal ingredients. If you have some time to nip down to the Cape Winelands, take advantage of 15% off all bookings from May – Sep or book now and enjoy a two-night stay with added extras like breakfast and dinner, wine tastings, afternoon tea with Cap Classique, and discounts on spa treatments.

Travel inspiration: Siphokazi Mcaka

Travel content creator Siphokazi Mcaka in Nahoon Reef, East London. Photo: Supplied.

Siphokazi Mcaka is one of those travel content creators we love following because her content is fresh, fun, and real. Fancy a horse-riding safari in South Africa? Go along for the ride with her at Moomanshoek in the Free State. Looking for a quiet escape for just you and your books? She has the spot. Lounging by the pool? Check. Tubing in Port Alfred? Check. A glamorous trip to Paris? Check. If you’re in need of travel inspiration – broad or specific – take a look at her Instagram profile. We’re sure you’ll find something to love.

On our hotel radar: The Maslow Time Square, Pretoria

We recently spent a night at The Maslow Time Square in Pretoria. Located in the Menlyn Maine Precinct, its central location is one of its most appealing aspects. What makes it rather unique is its three-, four-, and five-star options under one roof. Looking for a quiet date night? Book the five-star room for a proper treat. If you've already spent a pretty penny on a show at the SunBet Arena, make yourself comfortable for the night in a three-star room without breaking the bank.
The Maslow Time Square in Pretoria. Photo: Supplied.

To munch on, take your pick from a variety of restaurants: Forti Grill & Bar, Tatso, Shun De, Agrilla, and of course Luminary on 12th. Located on the 12th floor of the hotel, Luminary on 12th is the crown in this hotel's dining scene and is worth a visit and stay in the hotel all on its own. Fine dining restaurant by night on the weekends and breakfast dining room come the morning, guests of the five-star rooms are given special access to the breakfast buffet served here. Guests like U.S. singer Anthony Hamilton have dined here, and when the Miss South Africa pageant is hosted at the SunBet Arena you may bump into a contestant. Incidentally, the breakfasts are superb.

The friendly staff were a standout on our visit, and depending on the floor of your room the views over Menlyn sprawled out below are a cosmopolitan treat. You can pop into the casino if that's your thing or use the hotel as a springboard to explore the capital city. Ultimately, we love the convenience of booking for a show and staying the night. It's the perfect pair for a proper night out on the town.

Prices start from R2,400 for two people sharing a room. For more information or to book, visit The Maslow Time Square Hotel website.

Look out for…

Look out for our upcoming review of Mhondoro Safari Lodge & Villa. Photo: Supplied.

We’ll soon tell you all about our visit to Lefika Villas, the latest addition to Sun City, and our time game watching and exploring Welgevonden Nature Reserve at Mhondoro Safari Lodge & Villa in the Waterberg region of Limpopo. And if you missed it, check out our recent review of Sanctuary Mandela. Offering a beautiful slice of history meets heritage and refined spoils, it’s a boutique hotel worth adding to your bucket list.


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