Celebrate spring with these top five local experiences
Now that spring is here, we can start anticipating warmer, longer days and relish the thought that summer is just around the corner. This year, celebrate the blooming of the new season with one of these top five local experiences…
Watch whales in St. Francis Bay
St. Francis Bay in the Eastern Cape is Flight Centre Leisure Marketing Leader Nicky Potgieter’s recommended local spring getaway.
“The warmer days mean more time to spend on the long stretch of beach and the surrounding fynbos is filled with wildflowers,” says Potgieter. “But best of all, southern right and humpback whales frequent the coastline at this time of year and can be spotted from the shore.” The aptly-named Sunset Rock is the locals’ favourite lookout point to spot breaching whales and enjoy a sundowner.
St. Francis Bay also forms part of the Cape Floral Kingdom, a region declared a UNESCO World Heritage site for its rich plant biodiversity. Unsurprisingly, it’s surrounded by five nature reserves. Here bird watchers can observe endangered species such as the Denham’s Bustard and Blue Crane while the more adventurous can tackle windsurfing at the Kromme River Mouth.
Try fruit picking with the family
Fruit picking season is already in full swing by the time the hot summer months arrive, with many local farms that open to the public as early as September and October.
“Strawberries are a good pick in spring,” says Nikki Deponselle, a Somerset West local and seasoned fruit picker. “I love Redberry Farm in the Garden Route as you can pick strawberries year-round. But September to early January is recommended for the best, seasonal strawberry picking.” Redberry Farm is open for raspberry and blackberry picking from the end of November until end March. Closer to Cape Town, you can pick strawberries at Mooiberge Farm Stall and Polkadraai Farm in Stellenbosch from October.
In Gauteng, you can take your pick of organic strawberries year-round at Tangaroa Strawberry Farm, near Hartbeespoort. Camdeboo Peach Farm is a hidden Johannesburg treasure where you can pick juicy peaches, apricots, plums and nectarines from the end of October.
Don a sun hat and sunscreen and head outdoors to enjoy this fun activity with family and friends.
Picnic in the Cape Winelands
Spring is the perfect time to sip on a chilled Chardonnay while picnicking in the Cape Winelands. Franschhoek’s Boschendal Wine Estate, Warwick Wine Estate in Stellenbosch, Constantia’s Buitenverwachting and Rhebokskloof Wine Estate in Paarl all invite picnickers to relax with a glass or two on endless green lawns, shaded by tall oak trees and dramatic mountain ranges. Most wine estates offer ready-packed or create-your-own food hampers with a bottle of two of vino.
Spring is also festival season in the Cape, with many of the wine estates and towns hosting food and wine festivals. Festival favourites are the Robertson Wine on the River festival, from 26 to 28 October, and the Durbanville Wine Valley’s Season of Sauvignon festival from 28 to 29 October.
See the famous Cape wildflowers
Expect a riot of colours as you view expansive carpets of wildflowers, dotted with the occasional pincushion protea, on the Cape West Coast from September until early October. The flowers only bloom for a short period and are weather dependent, so it’s a good idea to contact the local tourism board or a resident to check if the flowers are blooming before making any travel arrangements.
“The Postberg area of the West Coast National Park is a must-do and is a great day trip from Cape Town,” says Potgieter.
Head out of the city on the R27 and in just under two hours, you’ll arrive at the park entrance. The Postberg area of the park is only open during the flower season to keep the vegetation and wildlife as undisturbed as possible. You’ll be rewarded with stunning vistas of white, yellow, orange, purple and pink fields of flowers, such as daisies, sporries and magriets, that stretch towards the turquoise waters of the Langebaan lagoon. Zebra, buck and wildebeest can be spotted amongst the flowers and whales can even be sighted along the coast.
“There can be queues getting into the park during this time of year, but it’s well worth it,” advises Potgieter. “After viewing the flowers, you can picnic or braai at the stunning Kraalbaai Beach. South African citizens and residents bring along your ID and R77 per adult to pay the SanParks entry fee.”
Scout for cubs in the Kruger
View the miracle of life in the Kruger National Park. Temperatures are slowly warming up and, with November signalling the start of the rainy season, the dry winter landscape slowly starts to become lush and green. From September, the first migrant birds start to return from their journey north and, by November, young animals are usually spotted.
“Seeing lion cubs playing together, a giraffe calf taking its first teetering steps or, if you are incredibly lucky, a female leopard and her cubs, is an experience you will never forget,” says Potgieter.
There are many good spring specials and travel packages on offer, and many destinations and tours offer shoulder season pricing too,” says Potgieter.
“Our Spier Hotel 2 night special, for example, from R4890 per person from 10 October to 30 November 2018, includes return flights from Joburg, car hire, accommodation and breakfast and is an ideal base from which to explore the Cape Winelands in the spring.”
A road trip or weekend getaway with friends and family is an ideal way to celebrate spring in South Africa. Wherever you head to this spring, make it a time to remember.