Step out of the rat race for a few days at one of these dreamy escapes.
Western Cape: Tintswalo Atlantic
In the 1980s, Hout Bay in Cape Town declared itself a republic, creating its own passport, flag and anthem. It was a publicity stunt, but still, strolling along the white curve of beach, it’s easy to imagine you’re in a quaint seaside village far from the big city. It’s even easier when you’re perched on a wooden deck with the ocean lapping at the rocks below, cocktail in hand, gazing out over the bay as the sun sinks behind the pointy peak of the Sentinel.
The vibe at Tintswalo Atlantic truly is otherworldly. You arrive, shuttled down a narrow, winding road from Chapmans Peak Drive, to the shoreline on the eastern edge of the bay. A handful of utterly opulent suites are strung along the water’s edge (named after islands and each decorated accordingly).
Take it all in from a hanging chair on your balcony, chill by the heated pool, gorge yourself on fantastic tapas courtesy of Chefs Warehouse, enjoy a massage in the comfort of your suite, and pull up a barstool for the best sundowner views in the city.
You probably won’t want to leave, but if you do there are hiking trails above in the Chapmans Peak mountains, a handful of restaurants in town, boat trips, weekend markets and that crescent of white sand. Just don’t forget your passport!
From R10 490 per suite per night (sleeps two)
Includes breakfast, a cocktail and canapés, and a bottle of wine
Northern Cape: Stuurmansfontein Corbelled House
The Square Kilometre Array (SKA) comprises several thousand dish antennas scattered across a vast expanse of the Meerkat National Park in the Karoo. Designed to gaze into the depths of space, it needs to be in an area with minimal light pollution and radio interference.
Which is pretty much what you get at Stuurmansfontein, about 35km to the southeast (down a gravel road, 50km from Carnarvon). Built in the 1800s by trekboers, this national monument’s distinctive twin stone domes house the living room and main bedroom, alongside a gabled cottage where you’ll find the kitchen, two more bedrooms and a bathroom.
There’s no electricity, phone signal or wi-fi, so it’s a real break from the sensory assault of daily life. There’s a reservoir dam to dip in, a braai spot, and later you can chill on the stoep, soaking in one of those seemingly endless Karoo sunsets, watching the magenta light bleed away to reveal a sky bursting with stars. Don’t forget to bring a good book and plenty of braaivleis.
From R1 780 per night (sleeps 6)
087 802 0819
Mpumalanga: Kaapsehoop Horse Trails
The classic 1991 film City Slickers features a trio of men escaping their midlife crisis by going on a cattle drive from New Mexico to Colorado. I’m not suggesting that you’re experiencing a midlife crisis, but there is a cowboy fantasy lurking inside every man – and now’s your chance to live it. Perched above 1 600 metres up on the Drakensberg Highveld escarpment, Kaapsehoop Horse Trails offers one- and two-hour rides, and a day ride that includes lunch in Kaapschehoop village (itself a little portal through which to travel back in time).
You’ll trot through lush pine forests, across rolling grasslands and along the edge of the escarpment, where, if the view doesn’t take your breath away, the fact that you’re experiencing it on the back of a majestic horse just might!
Owner Christo Germishuys practises a natural horsemanship philosophy, which means the equine beauties are treated gently and which makes you feel like you’re ‘in it together’ for the ride. Horse riding is surprisingly exhausting, so you’ll be well pleased to unwind at one of the three characterful 1930s houses on the farm, which offer self-catering and a braai area; alternately, you can grab a bite at Kay’s Café on site.
If you really feel like living the authentic cowboy life, you can pitch a tent beneath the stars.
Horse trail: R370 (one hour), R700 (two hours), R1 200 (day ride, for experienced riders only)
Accommodation: From R400 per person per night
Kwazulu-Natal: San Lameer
We typically think of resorts as family destinations, but sometimes you just need a weekend with the boys – with absolutely nothing to stress about. That’s where a resort can be your friend. San Lameer, on the South Coast, offers all the trappings you could ask for – pool, gym, spa, luxury rooms, top-notch dining – all set on the edge of a stunning lagoon that snakes its way up from the Blue Flag beach.
The pièce de résistance is the 18-hole golf course. It was designed by prolific golf-course architect Peter Matkovich around a wetland forest, offering scenic beauty and maximum entertainment – stray shots are likely to find one of the many water hazards – while avid twitchers will aim to spot (but not hit) any of the myriad bird species that call the area home. In addition, the resort offers action cricket, tennis and squash courts, volleyball, rowing boats and biking.
There’s a fishing dam on the property, too, and it’s not far to the Mpenjati Nature Reserve if you fancy a quick hike in the wetlands. After a hard day on the links, you’ll want to kick back with the lads at the 19th hole. Go on then, you’ve earned it.
From R1 650 per night B&B (single)
From R3 546 for two nights (single) with a round of golf included
Words by: Anthony Sharpe
Photography: Gallo/Getty images, supplied