If you’re anything like us, you have five or more browser windows open as you research the best holiday destinations as the end of the year fast approaches. With international travel still looking light-years away, most South Africans are looking to explore more of SA and like us you’re looking to visit somewhere safe, offers lots of activities, is easy to get to and wont break the bank. Well we may be a bit biased, but we believe the Valley of a 1000 Hills is the best summer holiday destination this December, and here’s 5 reasons why.
The Short List
- We have loads of outdoor activities from rock climbing to nature reserves, golfing to karting.
- Plenty of welcoming and friendly accommodation options that will suit all budgets and styles.
- Easy to get to from Durban, King Shaka International Airport or Pietermaritzburg.
- The perfect weather thanks to the height above Durban.
- A plethora of great and exciting restaurants that offer so many options it’s often hard to choose!
The Long List
Loads of Outdoor Activities
It’s not exactly a surprise to anyone that South Africans love the outdoors, and that is exactly what the Valley of a 1000 Hills offer, a satisfying range of outdoor options.
- Nature Reserves – we have a number of great nature reserves open to the public. If you’re into hiking, check out the Kranzkloof Nature Reserve. If you’re into a gentle stroll while enjoying all that nature has to offer, then visit Springside Nature Reserve. Assagay Conservancy is another option, as is Macnut Farm that offers a birding trail and guide.
- Animal parks – PheZulu Safari Park is perfect for a game drive, or even a hike among the Giraffe and other animals while Mquku Picnic site takes advantage of the mGeni River on hot summer days and also offer some birding tours. The Animal Farmyard in Bothas Hill is perfect for the whole family to spend the day and nearby is some great local shopping vendors (support local!). Or enjoy an outride with the experienced guides at Blue Horizons.
- Adventure – Looking for an activity to get the blood pumping? Some of the best rock climbing in SA can be found in the Valley of a 1000 Hills area from the cliff faces in Monteseel to the crags at Shongweni, Assagay, Krantzkloof and even some bouldering in Bothas Hill. How about a 4×4 trip to the caves at Shongweni Farmers Market? Or maybe even a sunrise hot balloon ride for you and your partner. How about some archery, quad-biking, skeet shooting or 4×4’ing for the day? Check out Highstakes Adventure.
- Sport – It’s said that the Valley of a 1000 Hills has the highest number of golf course per kilometer than anywhere in the world. We don’t know if that’s true, but we do have 4 golf courses within 10 minutes drive from each other – Kloof Country Club, Cotswold Downs, Camelot Golf Estate and Augusta. Keen for something different? How about tennis or bowls at Hillcrest Sports Club, Mountain Biking at Giba or road cycling with a local club. Oh, and if you really want to test your mettle, how about go-karting racing against the family at Watercrest Mall?
- Markets – We love early morning strolls through markets, great food, great music, great local makers. The Valley of a 1000 Hills has plenty of outdoor markets perfect for the whole family. Shongweni Farmers Market, Fig Trees Farm, the Mushroom Farm, Umgeni Steam Train market and many more.
- Ride a train – Not too many places that still remain where a steam train ride can be enjoyed. The Umgeni Steam train puts on a number of December train rides that are budget friendly for the whole family (so you’ll have to take the mother-in-law sorry). And not only will you be enjoying a day out with the family, you’ll be supporting the continued running of these historic trains.
- Water sports – With 3 large dams, there is not lack of enjoyable water sports to be had in the Valley of a 1000 Hills. Canoeing, water-skiing, sunset cruisers, fishing and much more. Check out Inanda Dam, Shongweni Dam and Nagle Dam for more information. Oh and don’t have a boat? Consider hiring and book a fishing guide for your day out.
Plenty of Accommodation Options
Choose from some 60 accommodation options in the Valley of a 1000 Hills for you and your family. Want some luxurious accommodation for you and your partner? Check. Want budget friendly for you and the whole family? Check. How about dog friendly accommodation? We got it. Here are just a few options to consider, for the full list of accommodation available, visit our “where to stay” page.
- Morgenzon Bed and Breakfast – Adjacent Kloof Country Club, it’s no surprise that this beautiful B&B is in constant demand buy the golfing fraternity.
- Rooms With a View – Self catering at it;s best with dramatic views and the bonus, it’s pet friendly! Just 20 minutes from Inanda Dam, this self-catering accommodation certainly deserves the 5-star reviews!
- Kangelani Lodge offers an amazing 4 start luxury experience, and in tents! A delicious menu is on offer and they are situated close to a number of attractions and markets.
- Ammazulu African Palace is possibly one of the most unique accommodation spots in the whole of KwaZulu Natal! Zulu artwork everywhere, a highly rated chef (I’ve had lunch there and damn!), views over the Krantzkloof Nature Reserve, oh and they are rated at 5-stars.
- Valley Lodge is perfect for visitors that plan to be mostly out and about. Clean rooms, friendly staff, a safe environment, it’s pretty perfect for all families.
Easy To Get To
If you’re traveling to Durban from anywhere in the country, then chances are it’s the beach that’s calling. That’s great but do you really want deal with the hot, sweaty and humid weather? Or the crowds? Or all the other issues big impersonal cities like urban offer?
The Valley of 1000 Hills is only 20 minutes west of Durban, and easy to get to thanks to a number of different travel options, from the N3 to the Main Roads and side roads. That means you get to stay in one of the healthiest climates in the world, and when you want a beach day, it’s an easy drive to Durban. Don’t want to be driving about? Ride sharing options are plentiful and taxis can be booked.
We’re midway between Pietermaritzberg and Durban, which means loads of choices for a day out without having to deal with big city problems – easy.
The Perfect Weather & Climate
We have said it before, there are few places in the world that can boast the South African climate. Here in the Valley of a 10000 Hills though, we’re even more fortunate.
The Valley of a 1000 Hills is situated above the city if Durban, some 500 meters. Many climate experts believe a healthy climate is somewhere between 500m and 1000m above sea level – so we’re great in that respect. We have no heavy industry in the Valley of a 1000 Hills, so no pollution from factories. The effects of an escarpment wind keeps any pollution from the city of Durban well away, and the humidity is usually far more bearable in the height of summer.
It’s no wonder that the Valley of a 1000 Hills is considered to be one of South Africa’s most sought after residential area thanks to the many golf courses, oodles of green spaces, nature reserves, dams etc. It’s also why more and more visitors choose to base themselves in the Valley of a 1000 Hills when enjoying holidays in Durban.
Great and Exciting Restaurants
As someone who lives to eat and not eats to live, I can personally attest to some of the amazing dining experiences that can be found in the Valley of a 1000 Hills area. Here are some of out personal favorites.
- PheZulu Safari Park – they serve delicious and affordable breakfasts and more unimportant, where else can you enjoy a crocodile and ostrich burger, while sitting in the middle of a bask (yup, that’s the collective noun) of crocodiles and live to tell the tale!
- Cafe Mayfair is another great spot for breakfast and lunches – simple and delicious food and friendly staff.
- 1904 Bistro American is an amazing spot that serves one of the best burgers I think I’ve ever had.
- Oscars Cafe offers a number of dining options that will suit pretty much every palate.
- Shongweni Farmers Market offers delicious and handmade foodie options on a Saturday morning.
- Stretta offers a wide range of menu options and their food is always well prepared and tasty.
Just 5 Reasons Why You Should Vacation in the Valley of a 1000 Hills
There are many more reasons why you should book your summer holiday in the Valley of a 1000 Hills, these are just 5 of them. If you want to know more about the 1000 Hills, download our virtual Visitors Guide, check out our map or have a look at our YouTube channel.
It goes without saying but everyone should follow all Covid-19 protocols to enure the safety of your family and others. Wear a mask, sanitize, follow social distancing and ventilate where possible.
*images courtesy of unsplash.com