The dollar and the euro are giving the rand a hiding and a holiday or weekend break is becoming a luxury for many South Africans. If you’re a foreigner, a self-drive visit to SA offers excellent value for money and if you’re a local, these self-catering destinations won’t break the bank.
1. OUDEBOSCH ECO-CABINS, KOGELBERG NATURE RESERVE, WESTERN CAPE
The eco-cabins at Oudebosch look like something straight out of Architectural Digest. They face the Kogelberg mountains and their rooftop gardens blend beautifully into the landscape. Accommodation is luxurious self-catering. The cabins are decorated in celadon green and earthy pine. There’s also an eco-swimming pool on the site.
Rates: Park fees are R40 per day for adults. Kids under 12 pay R20 per day. Cabins cost R1 170 per unit for two. Each additional person costs R320 per day. Contact: Tel: +27 (0)21 483 0190. Contact Cape Nature.
2. ROCHERPAN NATURE RESERVE, WESTERN CAPE
Although the Rocherpan units aren’t on the beach, it’s just a brisk half-hour hike, past wetlands and over rolling dunes, before you’re gazing at the waves of the Atlantic. The eco-friendly units are spread out next to a pan that’s frequented by flamingoes, white pelicans and other birds. Over 180 species have been recorded here, including the rare black African oyster-catcher.
Rates: Park fees are R40 per day for adults. Kids under 12 pay R20. Two-sleeper units start at R750 per night; four-sleeper units start at R950. Contact: Tel: +27 (0)21 483 0190 or visit the Cape Nature website.
3. MTENTU LODGE, WILD COAST
Mtentu Lodge is a secluded retreat 64km from Port Edward. Accommodation is in rustic, dorm-style cabins, which sleep up to four people. Ablutions are shared, but as you get into the Transkei vibe, it won’t even bother you after the second day.
Rates: From R700 per cabin that sleeps four. Catered packages for adults are R280 per person per day (including three meals) and R120 for kids aged eight to 12. This means an adult can stay all-inclusive for less than R500 per day. Contact: Tel: +27 (0)83 805 3356. Visit:
4. OLIFANTSBOS COTTAGE, CAPE POINT, WESTERN CAPE
What could be more spectacular than staying at a private beach house in the Table Mountain National Park, just a few steps from your private beach? Although this might sound like a millionaire’s property on Airbnb, the Olifantsbos beach house can be rented from Sanparks for less than R700 per person per night (provided you round up six people).
Rates: Park fees are R125 per adult and R65 for kids under 12. The cottage costs R3 100 for four people, plus R380 per additional adult. Contact: Tel: +27 (0)21 428 9111 or visit the SanParks website.
5. MATJIESVLEI, OUTSIDE CALITZDORP, EASTERN CAPE
The little white-washed cottages on this Klein Karoo guest farm, at the foothills of the Swartberg mountain range, could have been the setting for a Herman Charles Bosman story. There’s no cellphone reception or electricity, so each evening guests braai and dine by candlelight, as paraffin lamps flicker shadows against the walls. Water’s warmed up inside a “donkey”, a type of geyser operated with firewood. It’s a back-to-basics approach and return to simpler times.
Rates: R280 per person per night. Contact: Tel: +27 (0)73 174 1028.
6. GOLDEN GATE HOTEL, GOLDEN GATE HIGHLANDS NATIONAL PARK, EASTERN FREE STATE
The retro-alpine-style Golden Gate Hotel resembles a ski lodge on the cover of a Swiss or Austrian travel brochure. When it snows, you’d be forgiven for mistaking it for a European winter wonderland. The hotel offers both rooms and self-catering cabins, all overlooking the Maluti mountain range and the sandstone cliffs of the Golden Gate Highlands National Park.
Rates: Park rates vary for different nationalities, but for South Africans, they’re R40 per person per day. Chalets that sleep two are R1 065 per night. Contact: Tel: +27 (0)21 428 9111.
7. SINGO SAFARI LODGE, MAKUYA NATURE RESERVE, LIMPOPO PROVINCE
You don’t need to fork out the big bucks to stay in a tented safari lodge. Most posh safari lodges would give anything for a setting like Singo Safari Lodge in the Makuya Nature Reserve, near the Pafuri gate. The tented camp is perched right on the edge of a cliff, with the Levubu River running below in the gorge. Accommodation is Meru-style tents and comes with an en-suite bathroom, but the kitchen area is communal.
Rates: Park fees are R20 per day for adults. Kids under 12 pay R15 per day. Two-bed tents start at R530 per unit; four-bed family tents start at R720. Contact: +27 (0)15 293 3611/2/3 or visit Limpopo Wildife Resorts.