Situated in the Drakensberg-Maluti Mountains some 3,222 metres (10,570 feet) above sea level, in the landlocked Kingdom of Lesotho and close to the artist’s town of Clarens, AfriSki Mountain Resort offers an alternative to the balmy days spent on the beach that you probably imagine when thinking of a South African holiday.
Every winter from June to August, the ski slopes become the destination of choice for many locals and tourists, who flock to this European-style ski resort for an adrenaline-packed holiday in the snow. So pack the car and get ready for a scenic road trip to one of the most breathtaking destinations in South Africa.
Skiing and snowboarding
Whether you hit the slopes on skis or a snowboard, snow passes are available for everything from half days to full seasons, and can be booked via the central reservations office. Who knows, you might turn out to be a natural, eventually swapping holidays on the beach for those in a colder climate.
As in European or American ski resorts, the facilities are top of the range and include a 1,000-metre (3,280-foot) T-bar lift, two intermediate button lifts and a beginner tow lift. Ski equipment is also available to rent.
All first-timers need to complete a four-hour introductory course before hitting the slopes on their own, which is where the ski school steps in. Professional instructors will teach you the basics and make sure you’re ready to take on the slopes in no time.
Backpackers’ accommodation, chalets and self-catering accommodation are all just a stone’s throw away from the restaurants, slopes, après ski bar and rental facilities. The cosy mountain chalets offer the ultimate city escape and there are many options for travellers who are on a tight budget.
The mountain lodge, Tirol, is perfect for couples, while the chalets are great for larger groups, as they sleep up to 10 people. Adding to the unique ski-resort feel, accommodation options are named after popular ski destinations such as Chamonix, Courchevel and Lillehammer.
The views from the chalets are breathtaking and they’re fully equipped with all the necessary appliances and fittings. The chalets are self-catering, so do make sure to pack enough food and drink to last for the duration of your trip.
What about the summer months?
The resort is open all year, even when there’s no snow, and is just as lively in the summer as it is in the winter months. There’s mountain biking, fly fishing, hiking and abseiling, and that’s just inside the resort. Venture into the Kingdom of Lesotho to go pony trekking through the mountains, 4×4 the Sani Pass or visit the Katse Dam – there’s a whole country out there to explore.