It’s no wonder South Africa is such a popular international tourist attraction: we have spectacular mountains like Drakensberg in KwaZulu Natal, beaches and indoor play venues in Cape Town, valleys, waterfalls and vineyards, desserts up north and the ‘African Wild’ in Limpopo and Mpumalanga.
We have hot weather, snowy weather and tropical weather and best of all, we have a diverse, friendly and welcoming culture. What’s not to love? In fact, you could spend a whole year here and still not have experienced all that our beautiful country has to offer.
There is one more reason why working in South Africa can also make travelling easy. Did you know that by taking leave from work top or tailing some public holidays you can maximise the amount of leave you have, thus making holiday and family time so much longer and way more worthwhile. In fact, this year with only 15 days of leave you can get a whopping 43 days off! Everyone has an excuse to have a little getaway now.
South Africa has a mandatory 12 days of public holidays each year. Although it may seem as though South Africa has one too many public holidays, the country only ranks in eighth place globally along with Russia, Kenya and Finland. The country with the top number of public holidays is Cambodia, sitting with 28 and the Mexico takes the lowest spot having only 7 public holidays.
So, let’s maximise ours and get as much travelling time together in as we can.
43 Days off with only 15 days leave:
How to make the best of 2020 with your South African travel calendar
January is a perfect summer month and you can expect hot, breezy and cloudless days. South African’s are still very much in a laid-back, relaxed mood after the festive season, ensuring plenty of fun activities, smiles and general happiness.
January will also be quieter in terms of local tourism as South Africans head back to work and school, ensuring that the main attractions are less crowded. This would be the perfect time to visit Cape Town, the Cape Winelands and the Garden Route, West Coast
February is South Africa’s hottest month and the best place to cool off (while still enjoying the summer) is in the Mountains. Rent a cottage and enjoy views of waterfalls and rolling hills while breathing in the fresh country air. Try visiting the Natal Midlands, Underberg, Hogsback & the Amatola Mountains.
This year is a leap year- so make something special of Saturday 29 Feb 2020 and take the opportunity to tell the kids about this extra special day.
We are now heading into autumn, meaning cooler, yet still warm weather with the added bonus of a green and vibrantly beautiful countryside. During this time of year, you can really visit anywhere in South Africa as it is all equally phenomenal, but our favourite past time recommendation in March is definitely hiking: the climate is moderate, the views are incredible, the mountains are green and the waterfalls are in full force. Popular places for hiking attractions include the Drakensberg Mountains, Natal Midlands, Clarens, the Wild Coast and the Garden Route
“Clarens is without a doubt, the quaintest little place situated at the foothills of the Maluti Mountains. It is absolutely charming. If you’re lucky enough you’ll get to see Hot Air Balloons floating through the mountains (maybe you’ll even be in one). Clarens is by no means just like a ‘kid friendly resort’ but the town itself offers nature at its best through all the perfect guest houses surrounding the town” says Tracey Stelloh – travel writer and Jozi mom.
This year Human Rights Day falls on a Saturday so you will have no luck getting extra days off for travel this month!
This is the month where you will get the most amount of leave days from the least amount of leave taken. Similar to March, April promises a mild, moderate climate and it is, therefore, the best time of year to head inland to the semi-arid Karoo. Oudtshoorn, home of the ostrich, offers not only a variety of family-friendly outdoor activities, it also hosts the KKNK arts festival during this time of year which is an event not to be missed. While here, be sure to ride an Ostrich, explore the Cango Caves and simply take in the natural beauty of the Karoo countryside.
“Growing up, my favourite memories were made on the Outeniqua pass taking the train or a car ride through. It is one of the most scenic railway passes in the country. Experience the forest, waterfalls, fynbos and proteas, bird and animal life and the panoramic picnic area. Be sure to stop at an ostrich merchandise shop and see the weird and wonderful things these weird and wonderful birds allow humans to create with their eggs… and without a doubt ask anyone! Get the best biltong in the world at a corner shop… Ostrich biltong packaged perfectly for little hands to unravel and gnaw on for ages” says Tracey.
“Apply for leave on Thursday 9th of April to make the weekend last a little longer, then also apply for leave on Tuesday 28 April until Thursday 30 April for a whopping 9 days off!” says Tanya.
When winter settles its cool hand over South Africa, it is time to visit the Bushveld. As the heat dissipates, the animals start to move around more during the day and the vegetation, although still green, becomes sparse, making this a great time for game viewing and family safari getaways.
While this is not within the holiday season if you can travel at this time it makes for less crowds, more viewing and definitely more rest! For a bushveld getaway without in a Malaria-free zone, visit Kololo Game Reserve in the magnificent Waterberg.
If you used your leave as advised under “April” you will have the first 3 days of May off to explore.
The tropical climate prevalent along the Kwa-Zulu Natal Coastline promises warm, sunny beach weather all your round. June is one of those months when most schools are on school holidays. If you take 1 day leave in June you will get 4. So take the family on a little roadtrip.
Here you can take Monday 15 June off to enjoy an extra-long weekend coupled with Freedom- and Workers day.
Head to the mountains for snow during July or visit one of our ski resorts in the Eastern Cape for a European-inspired South African winter wonderland. Yes we have snow…
Accommodation in these skiing resorts can be a costly affair especially for a larger family. “What we do, is to buy a day pass and make it an excursion instead of the entire holiday. It allows for an unforgettable experience. There are many resorts, farms and guest houses on route to ski. If you happen to be from Johannesburg – you could even do an epic road trip in one day!” says Tracey.
Even though this is school holiday season public holidays are scarce and you may be tempted to exchange some of the other days off for some extra time with the kids, they too need a break after a long term. Perhaps swop a top or tail day with one of the long weekend suggestions in the given table.
It’s flower season in South Africa, so be sure to take a road trip anywhere up the West Coast or Northern Cape to see its full glory. It’s a fun and exhilarating outdoor excursion into nature for the kids and you can even picnic in it.
“Within the period from June to August – I would highly recommend you go to Kruger! It is a very pleasant time of year to visit the Kruger National Park as there are few mosquitoes and little rain. Temperatures are warm during the day, so you can wear short sleeves and nights are refreshingly cool. Night time comes soon enough for kids to enjoy the starry nights and studying nocturnal animals as opposed to summer when the sun settles long after bedtime. I recommend going outside of traditional government school holidays, but if you have to go in June/July, try to book higher up north to avoid traffic jams.” says Badenhorst.
Take Tuesday 11th of August off together with National Women’s Day for an extra-long weekend.
During spring, the shores of the Western Cape become home to the Southern Right Whale as they enter their breeding season. Expect mesmerising displays of whale families frolicking in the waves while taking in the relaxing seaside atmosphere. Destinations we recommend this time of the year include the ever-famous whale watching Overberg (Hermanus, Witsand) and The Whale Coast (Kogelberg, Betty’s Bay, Gans Bay).
If you use your leave for the dates between 25-28 September, you’ll be good to go and return rested.
October marks the beginning of summer with moderate temperatures and the start of the rainy season which makes the northern part of South Africa a pleasure to visit. Gone are the dreary winter browns, now replaced with rolling green hills. Be sure to visit the lush Magoebaskloof valley for an outdoor-inspired getaway, look for hiking opportunities and mesmerising views along the Panorama Route and explore the Cradle of Humankind, as well as our nation’s Capital, in Gauteng.
“Oh, I can write for ages on the Magoebaskloof valley and resorts in the Limpopo. My family and I did this in October last year and I will recommend it over and over again. So many citrus farms and fresh farm stalls to explore. Be sure, if you do have the kids with you to stop at Cradle of Humankind (Maropeng). There is the most magnificent water ride on the elements and their activities turn all kids into explorers. My sons still talk about it. Oh, don’t go with little time. There is a lot to explore” says Tracey.
Grind ahead, there is light at the end of the tunnel. Think about that long summer’s break in December.
It’s summer and what better way to celebrate than by heading to one of the many glorious beach towns along the South African coastline. November is still a working and school month in South Africa, which means that the main areas will be less crowded.
Yes, yes, we know you’re counting down the days.
It’s the festive season and the whole of South Africa celebrates as schools and businesses close and head to the beach. This month marks a calendar filled with festive family-friendly events, activities and excursions wherever you decide to go so expect a lively, busy and happy atmosphere.
“For me, this is the best time to go inland as the coast becomes an ants’ nest during the Christmas season. Hot days, thunderstorms and an ice cool pool (as a prerequisite to any holiday) is my kind of holiday and therefore I recommend the Karoo (See April). When booking accommodation an aircon is a big plus.
“Take 24 Dec off, so you are rested if you celebrate Christmas on the evening of the 24th, then relax, unwind, go offline and rest so you can kick the new year off with a bang on 4 Jan 2021.” says Tanya.