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Cosy Winter Escapes: Top Mountain Retreats in South Africa

Winter is the perfect time to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life and retreat to the serene and scenic mountain regions of South Africa. From the majestic Drakensberg to the charming village of Clarens and the rugged beauty of the Cederberg Mountains, these destinations offer the ideal backdrop for a cosy winter June/July school holiday. We explore the best mountain retreats, highlighting accommodations, activities and scenic spots to help you plan your perfect winter escape.


1. Drakensberg Mountains, KwaZulu-Natal

The Drakensberg Mountains, also known as the "Dragon Mountains", make for a breathtaking destination, offering a mix of adventure and relaxation. During winter, the peaks are often dusted with snow, creating a picturesque and serene environment.

The majestic Drakensberg

Accommodation Highlights

Cathedral Peak Hotel: Nestled in the heart of the Drakensberg, this hotel offers a range of family-friendly rooms and suites. The hotel features a kids' club, a golf course and various guided outdoor activities.

The family-friendly Cathedral Peak Hotel

The Cavern Resort & Spa: Located in the foothills of the Northern Drakensberg, the Cavern Resort & Spa offers breathtaking views and serene surroundings. There are various activities to explore, from guided hikes to exploring age-old rock paintings. And then there’s the Forest Retreat Spa, where you can enjoy relaxing treatments while overlooking the beautiful ancient fern forests.

Serious R&R to be found at The Cavern Resort & Spa


Hiking and Walking Trails: The Drakensberg offers some of the best hiking trails in South Africa. Popular trails include the Tugela Falls hike and the Giant's Cup Trail.

Trek the Drakensberg this winter

Horse Riding: Explore the scenic landscapes on horseback, with guided tours available for all skill levels.

Explore the Drakensberg on horseback

Bird Watching: The Drakensberg is a haven for bird enthusiasts (AKA “Twitchers”!), with more than 300 species recorded in the area.

The Bearded Vulture, one of many birds 'Twitchers' can tick off their birding list in the Drakensberg

Scenic Spots

Amphitheatre: A dramatic cliff face in the Northern Drakensberg, offering breathtaking views and excellent hiking opportunities.

The breathtaking Drakensberg Ampitheatre

Royal Natal National Park: Known for its stunning scenery, waterfalls and diverse flora and fauna.

Take in the scenery of the Royal Natal National Park

2. Clarens, Free State

Often referred to as the "Jewel of the Eastern Free State," Clarens is a quaint village at the foot of the Maluti Mountains. It is renowned for its beautiful sandstone buildings, vibrant art scene and warm hospitality.

Take in the natural wonders of Clarens

Accommodation Highlights

Mont d'Or Clarens: This luxury hotel offers elegantly furnished rooms, a spa and a restaurant serving delicious local cuisine. The hotel is within walking distance of the village's main attractions.

The majestic Mont d'Or Clarens

Clarens Retreat: A family-friendly guesthouse with self-catering options, located close to the town centre. It provides a cosy atmosphere with beautiful views of the surrounding mountains.

Views from the friendly-friendly Clarens Retreat


Art Galleries and Shops: Clarens is known for its thriving art community. Spend the day exploring local galleries, craft shops and boutiques.

One of many artsy shops to explore in Clarens

Quad Biking and Horse Riding: Enjoy thrilling quad biking trails or take a leisurely horse ride through the picturesque landscapes.

Quad your way through Clarens!

Scenic Spots

Golden Gate Highlands National Park: Just a short drive from Clarens, this park offers stunning scenery, hiking trails and opportunities for wildlife viewing.

The awe-inspiring geological scenery of Golden Gate Highlands National Park

Clarens Village Conservancy: A network of trails perfect for hiking, bird watching and picnicking.

Pick your trail in Clarens


3. Cederberg Mountains, Western Cape

The Cederberg Mountains are renowned for their dramatic rock formations, ancient San rock art and pristine wilderness. Winter in the Cederberg offers clear, crisp days perfect for exploring this rugged region.

Dive right into the pristine mountain pools of the Cederberg

Accommodation Highlights

Sanddrif Holiday Resort: This family-friendly resort offers self-catering cottages and camping facilities. It is ideally situated for hiking, rock climbing and stargazing.

Panoramic views from Sanddrif Holiday Resort

Kagga Kamma Nature Reserve: A unique accommodation option with luxurious cave suites and huts, blending seamlessly into the natural surroundings. The reserve offers guided tours, spa treatments and a range of outdoor activities.

Spend the night in a luxury cave room, under the stars, at Kagga Kamma Nature Reserve


Hiking and Rock Climbing: The Cederberg is a hiker's paradise, with trails leading to iconic landmarks such as the Maltese Cross and Wolfberg Arch. Rock climbing enthusiasts will find plenty of challenging routes.

Hike the Cederberg with the whole family

Stargazing: The clear winter skies make the Cederberg an ideal destination for stargazing. Many lodges offer guided stargazing sessions.

Winter is the best time to see the stars of the southern hemisphere

San Rock Art Tours: Explore ancient San rock art sites with knowledgeable guides who provide insights into the region's rich cultural heritage.

View ancient rock paintings up close in the Cederberg

Scenic Spots

Maltese Cross: A striking rock formation that offers a rewarding hike with panoramic views.

The Cederberg's unique Maltese Cross rock formation

Wolfberg Arch: Another iconic landmark, accessible via a challenging but highly rewarding hiking trail.

The iconic Wolfberg Arch rock formation


4. Magaliesberg, Gauteng/North West Province

Located just a short drive from Johannesburg and Pretoria, the Magaliesberg Mountains offer a convenient yet tranquil escape from city life. The area is known for its lush valleys, indigenous forests and abundant wildlife.

Panoramic sunsets in the Magaliesberg

Accommodation Highlights

Mount Grace Hotel & Spa: A luxurious retreat offering comfortable rooms, a world-class spa and gourmet dining. The hotel also provides various outdoor activities and guided nature walks.

Scenic bliss at Mount Grace Hotel & Spa

De Hoek Country Hotel: This elegant hotel offers a range of accommodations, from classic rooms to spacious suites. Guests can enjoy the beautiful gardens, gourmet restaurant and a variety of outdoor activities.

Explore the gardens of De Hoek Country Hotel


Hot Air Ballooning: Experience the beauty of the Magaliesberg from above with a hot air balloon ride. This activity is particularly stunning during winter when the air is crisp and clear.

View the beauty of the Magaliesberg from a hot air balloon

Hiking and Nature Walks: Explore the region's trails, such as the popular Hennops Hiking Trail, which offers scenic views and diverse flora and fauna.

Hike the Magaliesberg

Canopy Tours: Enjoy an exhilarating zip-lining experience through the treetops, with breathtaking views of the Magaliesberg landscape.

Zipline through the Magaliesberg

Scenic Spots

Hartbeespoort Dam: A popular spot for picnics, water sports and enjoying the beautiful mountain scenery.

Boating on the Hartbeespoort Dam

Magaliesberg Biosphere Reserve: Recognised by Unesco, this reserve offers diverse ecosystems and stunning landscapes.

The Magaliesberg biosphere is a sight to behold

5. Hogsback, Eastern Cape

Hogsback is a mystical village nestled in the Amathole Mountains, often said to have inspired J.R.R. Tolkien's Middle-Earth in his famous Lord of the Rings trilogy. The area is known for its enchanting forests, waterfalls and serene atmosphere.

Step into J.R.R Tolkien's world in Hogsback

Accommodation Highlights

Hogsback Arminel Hotel: This old-school hotel offers comfortable accommodations with fireplaces, beautiful gardens and a restaurant serving delicious local cuisine. It is a perfect base for exploring the surrounding area.

Old school views at Hogsback Arminel Hotel

Away with the Fairies: A quirky and charming guesthouse offering a variety of accommodation options, including self-catering cottages and camping facilities. It features a unique cliffside bath with stunning views.

Take a bath with a thrilling view at Away with the Fairies


Hiking and Walking Trails: Explore the numerous trails that wind through ancient forests and past cascading waterfalls. The Madonna and Child Waterfall is a must-see.

There's a waterfall round every corner while hiking in Hogsback

Bird Watching: Hogsback is home to a variety of bird species, making it an excellent destination for bird enthusiasts.

The Olive Woodpecker, one of many bird species to be spotted in Hogsback

Fairy Realm Tours: Discover the whimsical side of Hogsback with guided tours that highlight the area's fairy-tale charm and folklore.

Take a tour into the fairy realm in Hogsback

Scenic Spots

Madonna and Child Waterfall: A beautiful waterfall surrounded by lush greenery.

Madonna and Child waterfall is a highlight of a Hogsback hike

The Big Tree: An ancient yellowwood tree estimated to be over 800 years old, located in the heart of the forest.

The Big Tree, a sight to behold

Head to the Mountains this Winter!

South Africa's mountain retreats offer the perfect blend of adventure and relaxation for a cosy winter escape. From the majestic Drakensberg to the charming village of Clarens and the rugged beauty of the Cederberg Mountains, each destination provides unique experiences and stunning scenery.

Get warm and cosy in a top mountain retreat in South Africa this June/July holiday

Whether you're looking for luxurious accommodations, thrilling outdoor activities or peaceful nature walks, these mountain retreats have something for everyone. So pack your bags, embrace the winter chill, and discover the beauty of South Africa's mountainous regions this June/July holiday.


Go Here with Sure

Sure Travel always has incredible deals for mountain retreats across South Africa, like these four incredible packages:

Two nights at the four-star Angel's View hotel in Graskop, Mpumalanga, from only R3,1180 pps. Full detailshere.

Two nights the four-star Botlierskop Game Reserves and Villas, from R13,284 pps. Package includes accommodation in an Executive Suite, breakfast, lunch and dinner daily, two game drives per day with snacks. Full details here.

Three nights at the five-star Bushmans Kloof Wilderness Reserve, from R14,585 pps. Package includes accommodation in a deluxe family suite, breakfast, lunch and dinner daily and a host of bonus extras for families, such as rock art excursions, night game drives with hot chocolate and more. Full details here

Two Nights at Lukimbi Safari Lodge, Kruger National Park, from R14,976 pps. Package includes two nights accommodation in a Classic Suite, breakfast, lunch and dinner daily and optional safari walk. Full details here

Contact your nearest Sure Travel Agency for more local travel deals, and/or check out our specials page here

Cosy up in a mountain lodge this winter

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