- In-province leisure travel is allowed again, but money is tight.
- We went looking for nice places to stay for under R500 per person per night in every province in SA.
- That turned out to be hard, but there are budget-friendly breakaways to be had, if you know where to look.
- For more stories go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za.
Hotels and guest houses can now also host leisure travellers from within their own province.
In other words, provided you don’t cross a provincial boundary, you now have government’s blessing to take some time out from housebound lockdowns. And some hotels and lodges are coming to the party with good deals and new Covid-19 precautions.
But money is tight all around, so we went looking for true budget breakaways, at under R500 per person per night.
Outside of campsites, backpackers, or stays in the country's national parks, those pickings are fairly slim. But with enough scouring, there are still some decent options available that will, at the very least, offer a change of scenery.
The best way to find these deals is to use online booking engines - and some, like Google's Trips portal - will collate reviews from several sources to provide something approaching an unbiased opinion. Even so, it's important to keep in mind that all booking engines use algorithms that favour some places over others - and reviews are not always as legitimate as they might seem. At entry level price points, for example, that five star review you read might in fact be for the establishment's most lavish accommodation, and not their budget basement dwelling.
With these caveats in mind, here are each province's top-rated getaways according to online reviews, for around R500 per person per night.
Aan De Oever Guest House
Aan De Oever Guest House is a 4-star establishment in Swellendam that’s picked up a rating of 4.8 out of 5 after 205 reviews on Google. Ratings on other hotel booking sites have it similarly placed.
Rooms at the guest house vary in price according to their size and features - but several online travel booking sites currently have double occupancy rooms listed for under R1,000.
Reviews bill it as a perfect escape from the city. It’s an upscale Cape Dutch-style guesthouse set on the banks of the Koornlands River and has views of the Langeberg Mountains. According to their website, some rooms also have fireplaces, mountain views, and private balconies.
Swellendam is a destination to explore in its own right, and is far enough from Cape Town to feel like an actual escape. Many travellers use this as base to explore the Overberg region and nearby Bontebok National Park as well.
Umlambo River Lodge
Umlambo River Lodge is a 4-star lodge located on a family-owned citrus farm in the Kirkwood region of the Eastern Cape.
The lodge’s primary drawcard may be its proximity to Addo Elephant National Park, which is now open for day drives and overnight stays, but it also offers private river-facing cottages, a large garden, and a jetty with kayaks for use by guests, that have given it a solid Google rating. After 65 reviews, it’s picked up a rating of “Excellent”, and 4.9 out of 5 - and even prior to Covid guests praised it for its privacy and outdoor space.
Rates are also competitive; until the end of September, self catering accommodation costs under R1,000 per couple per night, or you can include breakfast for R100 per person.
The best bet for a weekend escape in the Northern Cape is likely to be in the area of the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park. Aside from staying in the the park itself, there are several options nearby, including the Kgalagadi Lodge, just 5km from the Twee Rivieren gate.
Reviews on travel booking sites praise the lodge for its location, views, staff, and cleanliness, and it’s one of the highest-rated establishments in the province. After more than 330 reviews, the lodge has maintained a 4.7 out of 5 rating, and although some luxury rooms and villas push it outside of the budget breaks category, there are self catering chalets available for R1,000 per unit.
Larger families can also book up more exclusive or remote villas, that work out to around the same cost per person.
Game View Lodge
Game View Lodge, in the town of Vryburg, is the North West’s most popular accommodation option. It self-identifies as a sophisticated, polished lodge with refined rooms, and has views of the Leon Taljaard Nature Reserve where you can spot rhino, buffalo, and a variety of antelope.
Reviews praise its rooms, views, and outdoor pool - and after 212 reviews its rating sits at 4.7 out of 5. Standard rooms at the lodge are currently going for approximately R850 per couple per night, and you can get a partial view room for an additional R150, depending on the online booking platform.
Amanzi Private Game Reserve
Amanzi Private Game Reserve has racked up an impressive rating on Google - and there are several accommodation options on the property that come in under the R1,000 per night mark.
The resort offers a range of activities, including game drives and walking trails, and guests have described it as peaceful and value for money. After 311 reviews it’s sitting at a rating of 4.6.
Accommodation includes various mountain chalets, as well as a caravan park and camp site with 18 stands that have access to running water, electricity and braai facilities.
Copperleigh Trout Cottages
Copperleigh Trout Cottages describes itself as “a fly fisherman’s dream”, and its near-perfect rating after 48 reviews would seem to endorse this.
There are just two cottages on the property, which is located in the heart of the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands, overlooking the 10 hectare trout-stocked Mavela Dam.
Copperleigh Trout Cabin is the most budget-friendly of the options. It sleeps two guests, and weekend rates are currently R1,000 for two people per night, and children stay for free.
Reviews praise the cottages for their cleanliness and the peace and tranquility of the location. Several commented on the charm of it also being a working farm.
Meraki Country Manor
Meraki Country Manor is about as close as you can get to Johannesburg while still feeling somewhat removed from the city. It’s located in the Lanseria area, has rooms for under R1,000 per night, and a near-perfect rating. After 120 reviews, it’s currently sitting with a score of 4.8 out of 5.
Although their key role may be as a stopover from the nearby Lanseria Airport, guests praised the spacious rooms, meals, and spacious, tranquil garden. Several guests say they’ve used the manor as an accessible getaway from the city.
Zur Alten Mine Guest Farm B&B
There’s no shortage of well-priced accommodation in Mpumalanga, and much of it takes advantage of the area’s proximity to the wildlife-rich Kruger National Park. But if it’s value for money and quirky you’re looking for, away from the park, the Zur Alten Mine Guest Farm in Graskop seems to tick the boxes.
The farm describes its accommodation as unpretentious cottages with kitchens and braais, set on sprawling, landscaped grounds. It has an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 across several booking platforms, and guests praise the facilities available, especially given the price. It’s also located close to several notable landmarks in the area, including Pinnacle Rock, God’s Window, and Bourke's Luck Potholes.
Family cottages cost R1,000 for two people, while the remaining chalets cost R550 and R900 per night.
The Belgium Inn
There’s no shortage of budget accommodation within the Kruger National Park, but just outside are numerous options that many people favour.
The Belgium Inn is one of these options. It considers itself an upmarket lodge, and is located in Hoedspruit, a 30 minute drive from Kruger’s Orpen Gate. They offered guided tours into the park, and are well placed to explore other attractions in the area, including the Panorama Route.
The lodge has an average rating of 4.8 out of 5 across several booking platforms, and there are suites available for R550 a night per person sharing. It’s also possible to rent the entire inn - which sleeps 12 across six rooms - for roughly the same price per person.
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