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By Citizen Reporter


Recharge your batteries in KZN

Mountains, sea and parks

Times might be tight and petrol prices may have increased of late, but there’s never an excuse for not taking a holiday – especially when you are heading to KwaZulu-Natal (KZN).

The province is not only close to most major centres but offers a myriad choices that are kind to both body and soul – and just in case you had any doubts, a quick Google search will reveal that researchers the world over have proven that a break away from mundane days, stressful meetings and ever encroaching deadlines is good for physical and mental health.

In fact, a getaway – whether a more prolonged stay or even a mini break – does wonders for one’s well-being and career.

Apart from the obvious benefits of lower blood pressure, less risk of heart attack or stroke, there is much to be gained from greater activity and exercise, strengthening relationships with your nearest and dearest and it will improve longer-term productivity and creativity.

A good break that is certain to recharge your batteries is about as far from your desk as the Drakensberg mountains and April is the perfect time to let down your hair in KZN.

The weather is milder in the lead up to autumn, but the vibe is as warm as ever and there are plenty of activities.

If cost is the reason for delaying your getaway, we’ve got good news as well. Many hospitality businesses have great deals to shave off some expenses and a little careful planning on your part will show that you can still have your toes in the sand rather than your fingers on your laptop keyboard this holiday season.

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Here are some tips on how to rejig your approach to taking time off in April

1. Redefine your holiday

Stop for a moment and look at what it means to take a holiday. If the first thing you think of is jetting off to a five-star resort, think again and consider self-drive and self catering options.

A holiday should be about having fun, but it doesn’t have to break the bank. Having a good time in an unexpected destination still makes good photographs.

If you can, save for one big ticket activity – ballooning in the Drakensberg or shark diving off the KZN coast – and then do what you never get a chance to do – spend time beside the pool, walk in the mountains or along the beach, enjoy a braai with the family under a perfect starlit sky.

MAKING WAVES. Surfing off Durban is exhilarating. Picture: iStock

2. Benefit from last-minute deals

Flights might be more expensive booked lastminute.com but accommodation isn’t.

When bookings fall through, resorts offer specials to fill the spaces and you could benefit from last minute discounts and “stay for two nights and get one-night free deals”.

Visit www.zulu.org to find some great special offers and discounts that extend from the countryside to the coast.

Trawl social media to find offers from folks who have been forced to cancel their trips but want to offer them to others just to cover expenses.

AUTUMNAL. A farm landscape on the P317 road to Garden Castle in the Drakensberg near Underberg. Picture: iStock

3. Do the maths

Many resorts offer some interesting addons to entice guests. A quick look at the deals on www.zulu.org shows how resorts throw in free game drives, both dinner and breakfast and even spa treatments which would ordinarily have guests out of pocket.

Instead, they can now be allocated to the accommodation budget. Granny Mouse Country House, for example, includes a free spa treatment plus a gourmet wine tasting and six bottles of wine.

CRISP DAYS. Autumn in a street in Winterton, KwaZulu-Natal. Picture: iStock

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4. Rethink your destination

Taking up last-minute special offers can mean having to settle for places that you wouldn’t ordinarily consider.

Make that part of the adventure and, chances are, you’ll find hidden gems that you would have never experienced.

The High Croft Retreat and Lodge near Umzumbe, for example, allows you to relax in a cosy chalet, soak up the sun in the fairytale forest gardens and even re-calibrate in its powerful Chakras Labyrinth.

HUES OF GOLD. Autumn at Lake Navarone in the Drakensberg region of KZN. Picture: iStock

5. Stay close to home

Travel costs and budgets mean that far away destinations might be out of reach – but KZN has one of the most diverse offerings of all.

A destination that is just a few hours away can have you feeling like you’re in another world – the journey from the city to a Big 5 resort, the top of a mountain or catching waves along the beautiful KZN North Coast could be no more than a few hours away.

Too many travellers head off far and wide and don’t get round to enjoying their own province.

But even the smallest trip can launch us into new experiences, cultures, cuisines and communities and give us a whole new take on life.

BEACON. Umhlanga Lighthouse is one of the world’s iconic lighthouses. It is in Durban north. Picture: iStock

6. Plan a mini cation

Bigger is also not always better. If you can’t afford that two-week getaway, take a short break.

Mini getaways of two to four nights could be cost and time effective and can even enable you to travel more frequently.

Again, a short visit to www.zulu.org will demonstrate that there are plenty of options available and that forking out for a two-night stay can get you a third night as a bonus.

7. Avoid the weekends

We all know that it is easy to get away for a weekend but there are great specials to be had if you stick to weekdays.

Lake Eland, near Oribi Gorge, offers 30% off as a Midweek Special. Aptly named Midweek Madness, the Qambathi Mountain Lodge in the Kamberg Valley is also running a midweek special for those planning a getaway to the Drakensberg.

You may also find other packages that allow a third guest to stay free if two stay over or even for kids to bunk down for nothing with their parents.

If you are travelling without a family and are not confined to school holidays, then KZN is really your oyster as rates are lower and off-season specials abound.

MADIBA. The statue of Nelson Mandela at his capture site near Howick. From a specific viewpoint, the steel columns combine to form his face. Picture: iStock

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KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) travel