Avoid the crowds: 3 local destinations for a chilled December holiday

Don't join the annual flight of the great unwashed to the coast this holiday season. There are other gems to discover, writes Yolisa Mkele

29 November 2017 - 13:06
KwaZulu-Natal's Midlands offers sane getaway options.
KwaZulu-Natal's Midlands offers sane getaway options.
Image: Supplied

For all of it jolliness and abundance of much-needed free time, the festive season does present one problem: holiday destinations.

Every year around this time millions of South Africans clog the roads, beaches and B&Bs, gleefully spending their time and money creating a euphoric fog by blowing off their collective steam.

If getting away from the heaving ebb and flow of humanity for the holidays - or even just minimising your chances of bumping into Dale from sales - is your vibe, then joining the rest of the country on its annual migration to Cape Town or Durban is unlikely to be fun.

Here are some alternatives:

THE KZN MIDLANDS

Just think of all that bucolic, pastoral goodness clogging up your Instagram timeline. While there may not be a beach in sight, there won't be too many humans either. That means fewer chances for you to get in a road accident, bribe a cop or listen to Dale moan about his partner at a bar.

Depending on the level of luxury you're looking for, you can find an AirBnB from around R850 per night for four people (two adults and two kids).

The downside will probably be the weather. While generally pleasant, it has been known to get thoroughly English over Christmas time, which means you may have to spend time wearing Christmas jerseys around the hearth, drinking gluhwein and bonding with family members whom you've been avoiding over the course of the year.

SALDANHA BAY

If you're looking for some ocean scenery without the overabundance of people blowing through their Christmas bonuses, then Saldanha Bay could serve as a fun replacement for Cape Town.

Saldanha Bay's rural charm is alluring.
Saldanha Bay's rural charm is alluring.
Image: Supplied

While still relatively popular over the festive season, it's not so full that going to the beach feels like navigating a Johannesburg club on payday.

Saldanha Bay also manages to exude rural charm without giving off the impression that it's a backwater and that's always a lovely sprinkle of vinegar on any urban traveller's plate of slap chips.

JOHANNESBURG

This may sound a little counter-intuitive, but let the thought marinade for a second. Come late December, one of the world's largest urban forests turns into a tranquil slice of paradise.

The December wind-down in Joburg gives room for long, lazy, peaceful lunches.
The December wind-down in Joburg gives room for long, lazy, peaceful lunches.
Image: Supplied

The traffic vanishes, those noisy neighbours who party every weekend vanish with it and you don't need to spend ridiculous amounts of money travelling to farflung places.

You can tell your kids that it's time they developed imaginations and leave them to play with sticks in the garden, take naps without feeling guilty and generally do the thing holidays are actually meant for - relax.


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