When you think “South African outdoor adventure,” the first thing that comes to mind probably isn’t snow. Our beautiful nation isn’t exactly in the arctic circle, we know. However, hidden throughout South Africa are secret gems of cold-weather wonder that light up in the winter months with snowfall and potential. As a true Camp Master, we know the urge to adventure doesn’t disappear when the sun does, and a little cold won’t deter you from going on expeditions.
That’s why we’ve compiled a list of the most exciting snowy excursions you can take this winter, and the essential Camp Master gear to keep them comfy. Bundle up and get ready for a journey through the snowy wonderland that is South Africa in winter!
Going offroading in The Matroosberg
Picture this: you’re behind the wheel of a rugged 4×4, conquering the snowy terrain of Matroosberg. With each bump and twist, you’ll feel the exhilaration of off-roading in a snowy wonderland – so familiar and yet so otherworldly. The Matroosberg is a private nature reserve in the mountains near Ceres that’s well known among Cape Town locals as a prime destination to check out annual snowfall.
There’s a Facebook group for the Matroosberg Reserve that will keep you updated on weather patterns, so you can plan your trip around a snowfall, which is crucial if you really want the full Matroosberg experience. The 4×4 trail up to the snow line is more suited to experienced 4×4 drivers, so it might be time to brush up on those driving skills before you find yourself stuck in the slush.
We also recommend reading the rules and regulations and grabbing yourself a permit beforehand, which you can do here. Channel that adventurous spirit and get ready to navigate through icy paths and drifts of powdery snow like a pro! You’ll wish you could take this trip more than once a year.
Game drives in the Mount Camdeboo Reserve
A cheetah – but in the snow. If that thought gets your heart racing even faster than the big cat, then game drives in the majestic Mount Camdeboo Reserve will be right up your alley. Or dirt road, if you will. Imagine cruising through the surreal snowy landscape of Graaff Reniet, binoculars in hand, as you search for elusive creatures that call this winter wonderland home. They’re even more challenging to spot when hiding away from the cold, so it might take some skills on your part to get a sighting. From graceful antelopes to mighty elephants, the thrill of witnessing wildlife against a snowy backdrop is an experience you won’t soon forget.
You also get to brag to all your European friends that you have snow AND the Big Five in your backyard, which is a winning combo for anyone to experience. Mount Camdeboo offers a truly novel accommodation experience in the form of their “eco-pods,” too, which provide a cosy – and imminently Instagrammable – overnight stay under the stars. Find out more about the resort here.
Hit the ski slopes at Tiffindell
If you don’t understand what the phrase “time to shred the gnar and catch some fresh pow on those epic slopes, bro!” means just yet, you might after your trip to the Tiffindel ski resort in the Southern Drakensberg. June, July and August are the prime times to visit the resort, as that’s when skiing conditions are best. Strap on your skis and glide down the slopes, feeling the cool wind rush through your hair.
Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a first-time skier, Tiffindell offers a snowy playground for all levels of experience. Complete with a full contingent of seasoned instructors and the full complement of gear to rent and buy, you’ll be able to approach this adventure even if you have zero prior experience with the sport. Tiffindell was voted number 19 in CNN Travel’s ‘World’s Best Ski Runs’ in 2014, so expect world-class slopes alongside a comfy resort and tons of excited, friendly faces. If you’re looking for a genuine alpine resort experience without having to stand in queues at Home Affairs to renew your passport, this is it. Hit the slopes with high hopes and book your picturesque Winter Wonderland getaway on their site today.
Hiking in the Hogsback Mountains
Did you know? JRR Tolkien based some of the magical landscapes of the Lord of the Rings on the Hogsback Mountains. And they live up to that level of fantasy in person – hobbits notwithstanding. If you prefer exploring on foot and immersing yourself in nature’s beauty, then hiking in the Hogsback Mountains during the snow is the way to go.
Lace up your hiking boots, grab your thermos of hot cocoa, and embark on a snowy trek through this enchanting mountain range – but make sure to bundle up tightly, as temperatures can dip pretty far into the negatives. As you stroll through snow-covered trails and venture deeper into the frosty wilderness, you’ll discover stunning vistas, hidden waterfalls, and maybe even encounter some wildlife along the way.
For a challenging but rewarding snow trail, we’d suggest the Swallow Tail Falls and Madonna and Child Falls Circuit, a 10.3km route with stunning views and technical sections suited to the experienced hiker. Afterwards, book into the quaint and whimsical accommodation the area has to offer at quirky lodges like Away With The Fairies and Terra-Khaya. Make sure the team knows you’re out snow hiking, so they can have a steaming mug of hot chocolate and a roaring fire ready on your return.
Go snowboarding at Afriski
Though not technically a “South Africa snow adventure,” Afriski is close enough to the Lesotho border that we think it counts. If you’re a thrill seeker who’s up for an international-style adventure close to home, get ready to feel the rush of adrenaline as you carve your way down the slopes on a snowboard at Afriski.
This high-altitude resort offers an exhilarating snowboarding experience that will keep your heart rate high enough that the cold stops bothering you altogether. If you’re a beginner, this resort offers lessons and gear rentals, so you won’t get left behind. The Lesotho resort has been around for 20 years and hosts a diverse contingent of skiers and snowboarders in winter, and mountain bikers, trail runners and Enduro bike riders in summer.
They have a variety of exciting events coming up, so you can plan your trip around your personal tastes in entertainment. This winter, you can sip fine wines at Afriski’s Wine, Gin & Jazz festival or partake in the action-packed festivities of their Christmas in July holiday program. Whether you’re a seasoned shredder or a newbie looking to learn, Afriski will have you sliding, spinning, and smiling all day long!
Camping at Highmoor
Camping in the snow? That’s pretty in-tents. (We promise, this adventure option is better than our puns.) This Winter, scratch that Winter Wonderland itch with a camping trip at Highmoor in the central region of the Maloti-Drakensberg Park. This spot is the highest wildlife camp in the Drakensberg, so it gets the most snow in winter and makes for an ethereal escape from the day-to-day hustle far above the cloud line. Imagine waking up in the morning to a snowy wonderland right outside your tent?
That could be your reality sooner than you think. Highmoor offers a unique camping experience where you can pitch your tent amidst the serene beauty of snow-covered landscapes, all on a relatively minimal budget. Spend your days exploring the snowy surroundings, building snowmen, and cosying up by a crackling communal fire at night. It’s a chance to disconnect from the world and immerse yourself in nature’s icy loveliness. What a treat!
What gear should you take on snowy outdoor activities?
The key to having fun when the weather is less than temperate is adequate gear! When you bring along the right cold-busting Camp Master equipment, the cold stops being uncomfortable and starts being enjoyable – even when you’re sleeping in a tent. Here are the essentials in the Camp Master catalogue for camping and adventuring in the snow:
- A stainless steel flaskso you’ve always got a hot drink on hand.
- A picnic blanketto avoid sitting in soggy snow
- A quick-dry towelto get snug after outdoor activities
- A storm bomato fend off icy winds
- A potjie potto make hearty, warming stews
- A dry bagto keep essentials cosy
- A sturdy canvastent to shelter from the snowfall
- A stretcher mattressto stay off the floor
- An Expedition Sleeping Bagwhich can withstand temperatures of – 15 °C
- A rechargeable lightfor those early sunsets
So, whether you’re revving up your 4×4, strapping on skis, or simply enjoying the tranquillity of a snowy campsite, South Africa has a host of thrilling outdoor adventures to offer – and Camp Master has a wide range of products to make cold-weather comfort a possibility.
Shop our full range and discover durability, affordability and Camp Master quality at a Game, Makro or Builders’ Warehouse near you. Embrace the chill, have fun, and create unforgettable memories as you explore the snowy wonders of this beautiful country! Have a winter-ful adventure!