BEST SNOW ES­CAPES

Whether you want to build car­rot-nosed men, fling the stuff around, slide down it or just sit and look at it, here are the coolest es­capes in South Africa this win­ter

Getaway (South Africa) - - CONTENTS - – HE­LEN WALNE

Ten win­ter won­der­lands for build­ing snow­men, mak­ing snow an­gels and lob­bing ice balls

1 GOLDEN GATE HIGH­LANDS NA­TIONAL PARK FREE STATE SNOW­FALLS IN LAST TWO YEARS

Dust­ings on the peaks, but nor­mally heav­ier SNOW-O-ME­TER No one is im­mune to the thrill of snow – not even Golden Gate’s hard-bit­ten rangers. They have been spot­ted mak­ing the odd snow an­gel or two. Se­nior sec­tion ranger Dhi­raj Nar­ian­das has wit­nessed the park’s sea­sonal changes over 10 years and says no mat­ter how of­ten it snows, ‘You still be­come a child when you’re in it.’ He says while an­nual snow­falls are usu­ally sub­stan­tial, with snow pil­ing up on the ground, 2016 and 2017 had only light dust­ings on the peaks. Those win­ters were pre­ceded by dri­erthan-nor­mal months and Dhi­raj is hope­ful that bet­ter rain­fall in the past few months bodes well for good snow­falls this com­ing win­ter. Some years, the snow has been so thick in the park – at least 30 cen­time­tres – that even Dhi­raj him­self has be­come stuck. ‘I took my car in­stead of the 4x4 and got stuck for about two hours.’ Guests love be­ing in the snow and he says dur­ing good falls, the park be­comes ‘lit­tered with snow­men’. While he doesn’t rec­om­mend overnight hikes dur­ing snowy pe­ri­ods, short day hikes, such as Echo Ravine (about an hour) and Mush­room Rock (about 30 min­utes) – which are within earshot and view of the ho­tel – pro­vide an op­por­tu­nity for guests to walk through the snow. STAY HERE Golden Gate Ho­tel & Chalets has a range of op­tions, from chalets with views of the Brand­wag But­tress to ho­tel honey­moon suites. From R1 182 for a chalet (sleeps four). Guided horse rides R205 pp for an hour. 058-255-1000, sanparks.org

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