Saturday, May 25

Pocket-Friendly Easter Weekend Activities for the Whole Family

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While you may be of the opinion that the Easter weekend is all about hunting down the best specials and prices on Easter chocolates (you’re not wrong!), it also offers the perfect opportunity to hit the road and discover new places.

With a sense of adventure and some planning, you can get out of the house or break up the long stretches of a road trip. Remember the roads are notoriously busy over the long Easter weekend so it is always advisable to plan your route and keep your loved ones up to date to ensure a safe outing every time.

road trip driving

South Africa is filled with unique and cost-effective ‘leg stretching’ locations, so when you are planning a road trip, factor in safe rest stops that are also fun for the family or friends you may be traveling with. Even if you are planning on keeping it local this coming Easter weekend, with a little imagination you can also enjoy activities fit for all ages in your neighbourhood and beyond.

PriceCheck tip: Having a portable jump-starter could save you and your vehicle from a stick situatio. Find the best deals on jump starters here.

Tracker recently asked Mzansi for pocket friendly ‘on the road’ activities and the suggestions below showcase a glimpse of the best that the country has to offer:

Eastern Cape

  • Hiking trips: Hiking offers a brilliant way to get into nature and enjoy the summer weather at the same time. Make sure you are kitted out with the correct hiking gear and choose a safe route based on your fitness level and use it as an opportunity to rack up your 10 000 steps. Try the Tsitsikamma National Park and make your way over the famous Storms River suspension bridge.
  • Waterparks or public pools: As the temperatures rise, you’ll be seeking ways to stay cool. A day of super tubing or lounging by the pool is just what the doctor ordered for your daily dose of Vitamin D – just add sunblock and watermelon. The Wild Water Fun Park in Plettenberg Bay is a great option just off the N2.
  • Visit the Owl House in Nieu-Bethesda: The previous owner, Helen Martins, turned her house and the area around it into a living artwork to delight the senses. The windows and walls of this modest home-turned-artistic masterpiece are elaborately decorated with colourful, ground glass while the surrounding garden contains more than 300 sculptures of an array of figures including owls, camels, peacocks, pyramids, and people.

Hiking

The Free State

  • Visit Bloemfontein: Bloemfontein is nicknamed “The City of Roses” for its abundance of roses. It is also the judicial capital of South Africa that has a plethora of museums and cultural attractions. The National Museum which was established in 1977 invites you to discover the natural, cultural and art history of South Africa. If you want to spend some time outdoors, your best bet is to explore the many beautiful plants at the Free State National Botanical Garden.

  • Basotho Cultural Village: Set in the Qwaqwa National Park, the Basotho Cultural Village depicts the South Sotho lifestyle from the 16th century to the present. As a visitor, you will be guided through the village to experience Sotho’s way of life. Take a journey through four centuries of Basotho history, culture, and tradition.
  • Bookworms delight: Let your inner bookworm squirm and visit the cutest independent book store, Bibliofile in Clarens. It will allow you a relaxed atmosphere to browse and the pretty red corrugated iron building makes for a lovely Instagram moment.

reading

Gauteng

  • A game drive – if you are fortunate enough to live close to a nature or game reserve, then consider making a day of it. The Lion & Safari Park just outside of Johannesburg offers the option of a guided drive or self-drive with senior citizens receiving a 50% discount and kids under 12 can enter for free. Don’t forget your binoculars to catch the wildlife in action.
  • Picnics: Many parks and picnic locations have small or no entry fees so gather your friends and family, pack a cooler box, and remember your picnic blanket to take advantage of the warm weather and enjoy a meal al fresco. Try The Walter Sisulu Botanical Gardens in Gauteng.
  • Local landmarks: How often have we heard about an interesting landmark a short drive away but never visited? Now is the time to jump in your car and head out to places like the Upside-Down House in Hartbeespoort – the perfect backdrop to snap some photos.

binoculars

 

KwaZulu-Natal

  • Camping: Find a site close by and meet up with a group for a weekend of camping. Pack all the camping gear you need like the braai grid, headlamps, tents, marshmallows, and Easter chocolates, and make the most of going off-grid and enjoying evenings under star-filled skies. Consider Gibaland in Durban.
  • Nelson Mandela Capture Site: This is a cultural and historical exhibition that is situated at the site at which Nelson Mandela was apprehended for his anti-Apartheid activism acts in August 1952. The sculpture at the Nelson Mandela Capture Site comprises 50 steel columns that are between six and 9.5 meters in height and cover a width of almost 30 meters. These have been cut by laser to form an image of the former president when viewed at the correct angle.

Limpopo

  • Tzaneen: Home to Modjadji, the Rain Queen. A lush haven of nature reserves of cycads and baobabs. With nicknames including “Land of Silver Mist” and “Tropical Garden Town “ you get an idea of its unspoiled beauty and why making a stop here is an absolute must.
  • The Kruger Park: Day visitors are welcome in the park with entrance fees ranging from just over R50 for children and R100 for adults. Do a self-drive adventure and take advantage of the scenery, wildlife, and designated picnic zones at one of South Africa’s much-loved parks. Don’t forget to pack the binoculars to catch a close-up glimpse of the animals in action.
wildlife Thanda Safari

Image credit: Christian Sperka at Thanda Safari.

Mpumalanga

  • Feeling adventurous? Keep the blood pumping with a visit to The Big Swing in Graskop. With views for days, launching yourself off this waterfall will be something you will remember for a lifetime.
  • Milly’s: If you find yourself in Mpumalanga, a popular pit stop is Milly’s. At the restaurant, you can find all the usual farmstall fare, but it’s the trout that everyone speaks about. Try the popular trout pie, a trout sandwich, or indulge in a cheese platter with trout pate.
  • Photo opportunities at God’s Window: God’s Window forms part of a 250km long stretch of breathtaking cliffs. There is a small entrance fee to access the viewpoint and there are stalls and toilet facilities available making it the perfect place to stretch your legs and capture road trip memories.

star gazing camping

Northern Cape

  • For architecture junkies: Standing tall in Du Toitspan Road in Kimberley, the St Cyprian’s Cathedral is a must-see. This building has the longest nave of any church in South Africa. It is hard to miss with the beautiful hues of its stained glass windows.
  • Marvel at the stars: Sutherland in the Northern Cape is known for being one of the best places in South Africa for stargazing, hence why astronomers chose it as the place to build the legendary Southern African Large Telescope (SALT). This is a must-visit spot for astronomy lovers.

Kruger Safari

North West

  • Pilanesberg Game Drive: A short drive from Rustenburg takes you to the Pilanesberg National Park. It’s perfect for a day outing or camping overnight in the Manyane Resort within the park. Expect to see rhinos and elephants on your morning and afternoon game drives.
  • Local markets: Over the holiday period, many communities gather to host gift fairs, pottery markets, and outdoor concerts. These are a lovely way to spend a morning browsing for locally made gifts before discovering a new spot for lunch close by.

Western Cape

  • Museums: On certain days, many museums are free to enter. Meet at a central spot and head out with friends to discover your local museums and find out more about your city. The Iziko Museum in Cape Town which includes the Planetarium is a must-visit!
  • Walking tours: Take advantage of the sun shine and head into Woodstock for the graffiti tour, or wait until night falls and join the ghost walk in Simon’s Town, if you dare.
  • Ronnies Sex Shop: An iconic landmark along Route 62 in the Klein Karoo. The story goes that Ronnie painted the name ‘Ronnies Shop’ on the side of the building with the aim of selling fresh produce, but business didn’t get off to a good start. So his friends decided they would add the word ‘Sex’ to the name for a laugh, making it read ‘Ronnies Sex Shop’. And the rest is history.

powerbank

Be prepared for the journey

No matter where you are traveling, it is important to have a few things handy to ensure a smooth journey. A power bank will help to keep your phone charged for taking selfies and the kiddie’s iPad to keep them entertained in the backseat. While you’re at it, why not invest in a few portable load-shedding solutions to take along with you to your destination? If you’re staying in an Air BnB, guest house, or even camping, it won’t hurt to take a few rechargeable lamps and power banks along in case the accommodation you’re staying at doesn’t have these available.

Installing a personal safety or vehicle tracking app, like the Tracker app, will also allow you to effortlessly keep your loved ones up to date with your movements on the road.

Lastly, make sure that you stock up on car-friendly games and board games. These can also come in handy when you reach your destination as entertainment for the whole family. Don’t forget to update your favourite road trip playlist on your smartphone for the best festive getaway yet.

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