SW Africa and David Fleminger talk dorpies
David Fleminger, the South African author of Fair Game – a hidden history of the Kruger National Park and Back Roads of the Cape, recently caught up with Johannesburg-based travel incentive experts, SW Africa, to chat about the best small towns in South Africa you should visit this year.
As someone who lives in Johannesburg, travelling to small towns is like a breath of fresh air. The roads are narrow and charming, the fences are lower, the faces are friendly, the pace less hurried, says Flemminger.
“Of course, not all small towns are built the same – some are utterly charming while others can be a little grim and industrial. Either way, I love taking a short walk through any dorpie that crosses my path, from the inevitable Dutch Reformed Church in the centre of town, down the busy main road filled with bustling retailers, to the tranquil outskirts dotted with quirky shops and restaurants-small towns in South Africa are bursting with potential.”
South Africa’s small towns are our best-kept travel secret, says Henk Graaff, Managing Director of SW Africa. “Sure, our overseas customers are always asking to visit Cape Town, Franschhoek’s refined vineyards and of course the Kruger National Park, but once they experience the magic of smaller towns, especially within the more remote areas in the Western Cape and the Garden Route, they’re instantly hooked.”
For some added destination inspiration on your next holiday, Flemminger and Graaff offer up their list of the best small towns in South Africa you should visit this year.
Kaapsehoop / Kaapschehoop, Mpumalanga
This tiny village is set among a forest of ragged rock formations on the edge of the Highveld escarpment. There’s even a herd of wild horses that all this little townhome. What more could you want when seeking out the best small towns in South Africa? It’s also close to the Kruger if you’d like to combine your visit with a wildlife experience. While you’re here, keep an eye out for the incredibly rare blue swallows.
Clarens, Free State
Although it is slowly becoming a more popular weekend destination and a little over-exposed, the stunning sandstone cliffs and the main street lined with dozens of quaint restaurants, shops and galleries make Clarens a must-visit destination. Set at the foothills of the Maluti Mountains, this is an especially good stop if you are heading up to Johannesburg on a self-drive from Durban or vice versa.
St Lucia, KZN
The beaches of St Lucia are gorgeous, golden and endless. The water is warm, plus it provides access to the southern part of iSimangaliso – a wondrous wetland filled with rivers, lakes and wildlife. A scenic drive from Durban, this is one of the best small towns in South Africa to visit if you find yourself in the KwaZulu Natal province on your next trip.
Nieu-Bethesda, Eastern Cape
At the foot of the Sneeuberge, Nieu-Bethesda is Karoo culture at its best with gravel streets, a handful of discrete restaurants and the truly stunning Owl House – a sad, strange and entirely wonderful sculpture garden created by outsider artist Helen Martins. Founded in 1875 as a missionary station, this is the small-town charm at its very best.
Paternoster, Western Cape
Although the original white-washed fishing village has now been swamped by new developments, Paternoster stubbornly hangs on to its charm thanks to its beautiful location on a calm bay, perfectly positioned for sunset walks. It has some outstanding restaurants, an authentic fresh fish and chip kiosk on the beach and the nearby Cape Columbine Nature Reserve is just a knockout.
There are few things more exciting than discovering a delightful, previously unknown (to you) dorpie tucked away in some remote corner of the countryside, says Fleminger.
“For those travellers looking to explore the best small towns in South Africa, try a self-drive. Our team can tailor-make an itinerary that takes care of your car rental, route, accommodation and activities so that you can simply enjoy the ride,” added Graaff.