South Africa is a land of outdoor adventures, nature and stunning views. Retreating here means having access to breathtaking getaways at amazing prices, and most resorts go above and beyond to accommodate families while preserving the peace and quiet for vacationing couples. Come stay in lush forests, or amongst dramatic mountains and wetlands brimming with wild birds and animals. South Africa is calling, and these are the most stunning places to stay when you get here.
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In Port St. John’s, over 60 bungalows set along the banks of the river. Thatched hut style roofs, airy colors and upscale touches such as soaking tubs with a view give Umngazi River Bungalows and Spa a serene, authentic ambiance. Onsite, enjoy chef prepared cuisine, a relaxing spa day and even fun family activities like sledding down sand dunes, if the kids are in tow. A curving pool area faces outward toward the water, capping off the lovely amenities.
Monkey Valley Resort is nestled in Cape Town, and is refreshingly rustic while remaining quite polished. Rooms exude a cabin feel, while the hatched roofs hold onto the South African appeal. Like a hidden oasis, the pool sits under shading trees, and is accented by tricking water from surrounding stone, and covered lounging space. The beach sits just on the other side of a cluster of lush foliage and the water can also be seen from an elevated wrap around deck. Soak into the surrounding wildlife and scenery of the beautiful oceanside forest in which the resort resides.
Pulling far away from the naturalistic nature of our first two picks, you have the grand Hotel Fairmont Zimbali Resort, in Zimbali, just north of Durban. Amenities are everywhere, from five sleek pools, eight onsite restaurants, tennis courts and a gym, to stunning bedroom views of the Indian Ocean. Like a majestic kingdom, intricate tile works, stone accents and extravagant decor envelope the luxurious property. Families will also find designated pool areas for little ones, and even a play ground, so the resort is versatile and accommodating for all ages of travelers
Piekenierskloof Mountain Resort sits amongst the mountains and green rolling hills of Citrusdal, and the views are more than what one could imagine—even pictures won’t do it justice. The Cederberg mountains wrap around the modest resort and can be seen directly from the expansive, multi-sectioned pool, and from the refined suites and chalets. While perfect for a romantic getaway, kids, and those kids at heart will be thrilled to find zip lines, mini golf, and even a playground. But hiking and biking will deliver some of the most breathtaking moments in the area.
Pezula Resort Hotel and Spa first and foremost has the most striking pools, inside and out. With plenty of modern features like massive side doors that slide to open your room to the outside air, the Knysna located retreat also has South African style weaved into its decor. Dine onsite, spend the day at the spa, fine-tune your golfing skills, or just take in the surroundings because you are right on a cliff of the Outeniqua Mountains. Access to a private beach, which is just a short walk away.
A spanning golf course, biking, tennis courts, five pools, a gym and a stunning mountain location in Cathkin Park make the Champagne Sports Resort quite appropriately named. Rooms are cozy and homelike, while the bathrooms with large soaking tubs give off a more spa-like feel. Enjoy buffet-style meals and up-close views of the Drakensberg mountains. Proximal to excursions like the Drakensberg Canopy Tour, you’ll find the sky is the limit for outdoor adventure.
Between Durban and Johannesburg, aha Alpine Heath Resort is set within a Drakensberg mountain village, and it’s like peering at a page from a fairy tale book when glimpsing out your chalet. The swoon-worthy terrain is best enjoyed while horseback riding or hiking—either way, you just have to get out and about! Dining experiences depend on what guests are in the mood for—enjoy a refined meal, grab a tea at the cafe or chow down on pizza at the pizzeria. However, one can run by the unique market and utilize the barbecue grills. Pools, a kids club and tennis are amongst the other activities.
How does staying amongst the forest trees at the bottom of the Outeniqua Mountains sounds? At Teniqua Treetops, guests sleep in handcrafted, open-air treehouses. While rustic, modern conveniences such as bathrooms, comfy furniture and a multifaceted pool are at your disposal. Reconnect with nature, and watch the sunrise from your balcony while munching on the goodies from your delivered, continental breakfast basket. Gluten-free items are available too.
The hut life doesn’t get much better than at Thonga Beach Lodge in iSimangaliso Wetland Park. With classic structuring, guests are still treated to luxury and convenience at the all-inclusive retreat. Some suites have private plunge pools, and the views from the glass-enclosed restaurant are simply jaw-dropping. Proximal to the beach, activities are a part of the stay. Be prepared to kayak, hike and snorkel your butt off!