Nature's Valley, South Africa

#AtMyTable: 5 reasons I love South African winters

South African winters hold a special place in my heart.

Nature's Valley, South Africa

It was not until I experienced my first British winter that I realised what I was missing in the heart of the South African cold season.

The ‘Hindsight lesson’, all too true. As much as I love the English Summer, Spring and Autumn, and in particular the build up to Christmas, the winters here are hard. Not the cold, the dark.

Here are five things I love about South African winters.

1. Weather

The sun shines. Temperatures drop but the sun comes out and stays out for most of the day. Love the sound of frost crackling underfoot on the Kikuya grass; a palette of dust all around. Free State space. Swimming in the sea is possible in July on the Kwa-Zulu Natal Coast.


Photo by @lilyaupton

2. Food and Wine

Every excuse to bring out the deep reds and those exceptional bredies. It may rain a lot in the Cape during the winter, but sitting beside a fire on a spectacular wine farm with hearty food and a jewel coloured Pinotage is perfect.

Home baking and ‘Boontjie’ soup. Naartjies. Dunking rusks in ‘moer’ hot coffee after a game drive.


Photo by @racing_with_the_sun

3. Wildlife

The winter is the best time to go on safari. Shorter grass, more visibility, fewer mosquitos. Sitting beside the watering hole in the late afternoon before the sun sets and the cold bites. Lions look more majestic in winter. Silhouettes are sharper. Snakes sleep.


Photo by @namfonkullanut

4. Blankets

The beautiful Basotho blankets. Women with blankets tied around babies on their backs. Electric blankets in the coldest parts of the Karoo and Free State, when getting into bed is like your own little haven of cosiness. Blankets for cuddling on the couch before the game.

Basotho blankets

Photo by @kathisvoyage

5. Smoke signals

Burnt firebreaks in the Midlands. Brightly coloured homesteads sending smoke signals early morning and late afternoon. Joburg through a haze of late afternoon Highveld and smoke. The braai.

braai smoke

Photo by @kaveerb

Driving home in the winter months means a different coming home.