The Rise of the Stay­ca­tion

Dis­cover a Whole New World in Your Own Back­yard

Indwe - - Contents - Tex t: Sup­plied Images © Dream Ho­tels & Re­sorts & iStockphoto

The prospect of stay­ing ‘at home’ may not be quite as ex­cit­ing as board­ing a plane for ex­otic for­eign shores, but with pro­po­nents say­ing it’s a less stress­ful form of travel – not to men­tion a cheaper one – ‘stay­ca­tions’ ap­pear to be on the rise.

Ac­cord­ing to Google Search, trends show that stay­ca­tions are now a big­ger than ever trend, with many trav­ellers seek­ing hol­i­day des­ti­na­tions that are within driv­ing dis­tance.

“Many South Africans know the ben­e­fits of trav­el­ling lo­cally, but there’s a large pro­por­tion of South Africans that do not have a cul­ture of travel that could be choos­ing to spend their hard-earned bud­get on ex­pe­ri­ences in­stead of ma­te­rial goods,” says Sharmila Ra­gu­nanan, Group Mar­ket­ing Man­ager Dream Ho­tels & Re­sorts. “As eco­nomic sen­ti­ment im­proves in South Africa, a lo­cal hol­i­day is a great, easy first step to de­vel­op­ing a love for travel. Thou­sands of for­eign tourists have al­ready dis­cov­ered the di­ver­sity that South Africa has to offer trav­ellers, so South Africans should fol­low suit.

“You don’t need to travel to France for cul­ture. You don’t need to visit Italy for de­li­cious food. You don’t need to travel to the USA for spec­tac­u­lar nat­u­ral at­trac­tions. You can en­joy all these ex­pe­ri­ences right here in South Africa. When they say that South Africa of­fers a world in one coun­try, they’re right.”

Con­vinced? Then how about check­ing out these top stay­ca­tion des­ti­na­tions?

THE CRADLE OF HU­MANKIND Lo­cated just 50 km north of Jo­han­nes­burg, dis­cover the birth­place of hu­man­ity at the Cradle of Hu­mankind, home to about 40 % of the world’s dis­cov­ered hu­man an­ces­tral fos­sils. Your visit does not have to be­gin and end with bones, fos­sils and an­cient history, though. There are also plenty of op­por­tu­ni­ties to en­joy the area’s nat­u­ral beauty and see the wildlife species that find sanc­tu­ary here in the pic­turesque Highveld land­scape.

Cav­ing in Sterk­fontein and a Walk

Through History at Maropeng

Over 500 ho­minid fos­sils and 9,000 stone tools used by our hu­man ances­tors have been found in the Sterk­fontein Caves. This is also the site of two ma­jor finds which changed mod­ern palaeon­tol­ogy: The Aus­tralo­p­ithe­cus africanus or Mrs. Ples, dat­ing back 2,5 mil­lion years, and Lit­tle Foot, an al­most com­plete ape man dat­ing back four mil­lion years. Tap into your in­ner cave­man and take one of the tours that start above ground and de­scend deep within the cave.

An­other stop should def­i­nitely be the Maropeng Vis­i­tors Cen­tre which of­fers

a world-class, self-guided, in­ter­ac­tive ex­hi­bi­tion fo­cus­ing on the de­vel­op­ment of hu­mans over mil­lions of years. Vis­i­tors will en­joy the un­der­ground boat ride and gain great in­sights from the 2,500 m² ex­hibit.

A Na­ture Lover’s Par­adise

Mount Sa­van­nah of­fers 2,000 hectares of game-view­ing plea­sure with such species as buf­falo, ze­bra, spring­bok and gi­raffe, among oth­ers, roam­ing its rolling land­scapes. Count the num­ber of bird species you en­counter dur­ing your fam­ily game drive, or re­treat to the plunge pool at the res­i­dent lodge to cool off.

Hunt for Gold

At the Blaauberg His­toric Gold Mine, you will have the op­por­tu­nity to em­bark on a tour of the cor­ri­dors of the first gold mine in Gaut­eng. Even bet­ter yet, you will be re­quired to “dress” for the oc­ca­sion in over­alls and a hel­met be­fore nav­i­gat­ing the “mock mine”. This is a great way to gain first-hand ex­pe­ri­ence of how gold was mined in the past, and to view some of the equip­ment that min­ers used all those years ago, from picks and pit props to coco pans and rope winches.

ST LU­CIA

In­dulge your sense of adventure and ex­plore South Africa’s wild side in St Lu­cia in north­ern KwaZulu-Na­tal. Be­sides be­ing home to hip­pos and crocs, what makes it even more mag­nif­i­cent is that it is part of the iSi­man­gal­iso Wet­land Park, a UNESCO World Her­itage Site that pro­tects a large por­tion of South Africa’s eastern coast­line. So, get ready for the great out­doors and a bit of adventure with moun­tain-bik­ing, fishing trips, tur­tle tours and bird-watch­ing.

Tur­tle Time

See the Ma­puta­land tur­tles in their nat­u­ral habi­tat dur­ing nest­ing and hatch­ing season. At night, you can join a tour to look for nest­ing fe­males and ob­serve baby tur­tles emerg­ing from their sandy nests. Dur­ing the day, you may even have the op­por­tu­nity to swim with them.

Dis­cover the Big Five on Foot For­get bumpy game ve­hi­cles. At Im­folozi Game Re­serve you will have the unique op­por­tu­nity to go in search of Africa’s Big Five on foot. Imag­ine the thrill of com­ing face-to-face with an ele­phant while walk­ing through the bush?

Chameleon Night Sa­faris

St Lu­cia is also one of the best places to get a glimpse of a flap-necked chameleon, as they are eas­ily spot­ted at night dur­ing a Chameleon Night Sa­fari in the iSi­man­gal­iso Wet­land Park. You may also spot leop­ard, gi­raffe, buf­falo and hippo, as well as noc­tur­nal species such as bush ba­bies and aard­varks.

THE CEDERBERG

Leave the bright city lights be­hind and head out for a re­lax­ing break amongst wild­flow­ers, Rooi­bos plants and rock art. The Cederberg is the ideal spot for those who love the rugged out­doors, un­cov­er­ing cen­turies of San her­itage and in­dulging in lo­cally brewed tea or beer.

All Things Rooi­bos

Did you know that Rooi­bos is truly and uniquely proudly South African? The area sur­round­ing Citrus­dal is the only place in South Africa – and for that mat­ter the world – where Rooi­bos grows nat­u­rally. Pay a visit to Carmien Rooi­bos Tea Farm and en­joy a tour of the farm, which in­cludes a walk through the en­tire Rooi­bos-mak­ing process and the op­por­tu­nity to taste dif­fer­ent de­li­cious va­ri­eties of Rooi­bos.

Back in the Sad­dle Pieke­nier­skloof Moun­tain Re­sort’s Blaz­ing Sad­dles trail net­work is a must for pedal-heads. Take your pick of their red, blue and green routes for moun­tain bik­ers of dif­fer­ent levels of ex­pe­ri­ence and ex­per­tise. The red route spans some 26 km with a fair amount of climb­ing, while the 16 km blue route is ac­ces­si­ble and fun for the less fit and less tech­ni­cally pro­fi­cient rider. The 3 km green route com­prises a sin­gle track of­fer­ing a few tech­ni­cal chal­lenges.

Flower Power

Unique to this part of the coun­try is of course the fa­mous Na­maqua­land flow­ers. Each year around Au­gust and Septem­ber, this area of­fers up a unique display of wild flow­ers in­cor­po­rat­ing over 4,000 species. Take a day trip to Ram­skop Wildlife Re­serve, which is home to 350 species of wild­flow­ers or drive through the pic­turesque Biedouw Val­ley for an al-fresco pic­nic.

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