Have you noticed how the days have started growing longer and the sun has been shining a little bit brighter? It’s official! Spring is just around the corner and before we know it summer will be knocking at the door.
While the mere thought of lazy beach days is putting stars in all our eyes, there’s also that overly familiar, annual sense of dread: how am I EVER going to shake off all the winter flab in time?
Now, look, I’m a big advocate for simply putting the body you have into a bikini for it to be a ‘bikini body’, but there’s just something about the arrival of a bright new season that makes you want to get out and get active, isn’t there?
So, in celebration of all things sunshine and spring time, we’ve put together a list of fun outdoor activities (and where to do them around South Africa) that are bound to rejuvenate your body, mind and soul just in time for summer!
If you thought yoga retreats only happened in exotic locations far across the waters like Bali, Aruba and Goa, think again! There are some pretty amazing places to practice your poses right here in South Africa.
Little Samadhi Karoo Retreat – located just outside Barrydale in the Western Cape, Little Samadhi offers luxurious and comfortable accommodation with regular yoga classes and meditation sessions. No smoking or alcohol is allowed, but there is wifi for you to share your experiences on social media.
Emoyeni, Magaliesburg - Located only 100km from Joburg, Emoyeni is the perfect retreat for city-dwellers who need a relaxing escape. Broadly based on Buddhist principles of mindfulness non-harm, the retreat offers simple and basic accommodation aimed at encouraging the practice of meditation. Lacto vegetarian meals are provided throughout the day. The next retreat concentrating specifically on yoga takes place during the first weekend of September and costs R1 220 per person.
Pathways Country Yoga Retreat, Eston, KZN – Situated among the rolling green hills of the Natal Midlands, Pathways offers a perfectly picturesque escape from daily life and all its demands. While they host Hatha Yoga Teachers Training Certification, the retreat is also open to those who just need to take a break and enjoy doing yoga.
If you live by the sea or take regular coastal holidays and you’ve never tried surfing, we think it’s time you just gave it a shot at least. Not only does surfing give you a full body workout, it allows you to tap into the addictive energy of the ocean and meet fun people while you’re at it. However, starting out can be a bit tricky on your own, so we suggest slotting in with a surfing school if you can.
Learn 2 Surf – South Africa’s largest surf school, they offer lessons at beaches right across the country, including Cape Town, Durban, Port Elizabeth and Jeffreys Bay. Classes vary from helping beginners catch their very first wave, to encouraging intermediate surfers to improve their technique. Check out the Learn 2 Surf website for details on where you can find schools and what different classes would cost.
Roxy Surf School, Muizenberg – If you’re a girl/woman and you’re based in Cape Town, we can highly recommend Roxy Surf School. Operated from Surf Emporium in Muizenberg, this all-girls surf club offers group and private lessons for beginner and intermediate surfers. The instructors are knowledgeable and fun, plus they know how to encourage you to do a little better each time you go . Lessons cost R450 a month. Find out more on the Surf Emporium website.
If you find yourself getting bored easily with ordinary road running, why not mix things up a bit by hitting a mountain trail near you? These are good routes to try across South Africa:
Pipe Track, Cape Town – Winding its way along the foot of Table Mountain, overlooking Camps Bay, the Pipe Track is a great spot for beginners, as it’s pretty even and devoid of any heavy up- or downhills. Plus the view is spectacular!
Braamfontein Spruit, Johannesburg – There are a number of great routes to try out surrounding the Spruit area, which includes Emmarentia Dam, Johannesburg Botanical Gardens and Delta Park. The latter is especially popular among runners, with many little trails snaking their way through the woodlands. Just be aware that it is better to run in groups than on your own.
Kenneth Stainbank Nature Reserve, Durban - Kenneth Stainbank is a 253 hectare reserve in Yellowwood Park, Durban with 13km of hiking routes perfect for upping your trail running skills.
Lower Guinea fowl Trail, PE – Meandering along the Baakens River, the 7.5km trail is easy to access from 3rd Avenue in Newton Park and ends at Settlers Park. It’s important to note that the route is not circular and that you would have to make transport arrangements from Settlers Park back to 3rd Avenue.
For the more extreme souls out there, kite surfing offers a perfect blend of ocean and air, giving you an arm, leg and core workout while having fun. Sounds pretty good, right? If you know someone who has all the equipment and can show you the ropes, that’s great! However, there are also a bunch of kitesurfing schools to check out along South Africa’s coastline.
Ocean2Air, Durban – Operated from the Kitesurfing Centre in La Lucia, Durban Ocean2Air is run by Rob Chrystal, one of SA’s kiteboarding pioneers. They concentrate on offering quality lessons that will lay a firm foundation to build on.
High Five, Blouberg – Widely held to be the Mecca of kitesurfing in South Africa, Blouberg is one of the best places to learn. High Five offers lessons to people of all ages and experience levels and you can choose whether you want a group or a private lesson.
PiliPili Xtreme Sport Centre, Witsand – Still something of a secret spot for kitesurfing, the Breede River mouth in Witsand offers perfect, uncrowded conditions. Located at the Breede River Lodge, PiliPili offers both lessons and equipment rental if you want to give it a go on your own.
Kitesports, PE and Jbay – Kitesports offers a three stage course, introducing you to the power of kitesurfing and –boarding. Lessons take place at a variety of PE and Jeffreys Bay beaches.
Stand Up Paddling is the latest and greatest watersport to hit South Africa. If you’ve ever seen people SUP with your own eyes, I’m sure you’d agree there’s something awe-inspiring and almost surreal about a human being able to propel him/herself across the water in an upright position. Due to the relative simplicity of the equipment – all you need is a board and a paddle – SUP lessons and experiences are offered at most surf and kite surfing schools mentioned above.
If you want to find out more about SUP in South Africa, check out the SUPSA website.
Finally, cycling is always a fun option. While Mountain Biking has exploded as a sport in recent years, it’s a rather expensive hobby and not necessarily one everyone enjoys. Good news! Bicycle rentals in cities are on the up and up, meaning that it’s super easy for anyone to hop onto a saddle and get those legs moving. Here are a few of our top bike rental spots:
Up Cycles, Sea Point Promenade, Cape Town – You would be hard pressed to find a more leisurely ride with such a beautiful view! An hour’s rental costs R50, or you can opt for a full day at R200.
Bike & Bean, Beachfront, Durban – Like your cycling with a little caffeine on the side? Of course you do! This is what Bike & Bean in Durban is all about… rent a bike, take a cycle along the sea and then enjoy a delicious cappuccino and a sweet treat on returning it.
Fixin Diaries, Melville, Joburg – While Fixin Diaries’ main business is refurbishing old bicycles and creating new ones from scratch according to your specifications, they also offer cycling lessons for small groups and individuals and host the occasional bicycle gathering in the city.