You could enjoy what international visitors are saving up for as bucket-list experiences by enjoying a staycation this summer! You can do more and pay less, by taking advantage of special offers, promotions and sales to avoid the crowds or join them at their own game.

A staycation can mean short weekends with lazy stop-overs, or staying in South Africa for the year-end holidays. You may be a sun-and-shore addict or prefer the hills and flatlands of the bush, it’s all up to you.

Whichever you choose, this country has so many venues to choose from, providing a night of luxurious rest and a scrumptious breakfast to give you energy for a day relaxing in the sun.

Here are some ideas to whet your appetite for local summer travel.

The rolling hills and endless coastline of KwaZulu-Natal

Alan Paton’s Cry the Beloved Country opens with the line: “There is a lovely road that runs from Ixopo into the hills,” which conveys some of what you can experience in the KZN Midlands: rolling through the Valley of a Thousand Hills, a lush, green vista that provides unspoilt nature, wildlife and wining and dining. It’s a route you can enjoy on its own or while on the way to another part of the province, such as Amanzimtoti, Margate, Umhlanga or the Drakensberg. The coastal region winds along the Indian Ocean, providing access to many beaches, picnic spots and the annual Sardine Run, a scientific curiosity that sees millions of the fish churning up the waters and attracting other marine life.

From the urban energy of Gauteng to laid-back rural living in Bloem

The joy of Gauteng and its surrounds is that there are times when the urban areas settle down, particularly when there’s the annual exodus to the coast. Locals love the juxtaposition of the hustle and bustle of city life with nature just a short trip away.

Spas, resorts and country houses offer peace and quiet, with access to natural splendour, but if you want to stay in the heart of the city, you could head out to Soweto’s most-famous road. Vilakazi Street was home to both former President Nelson Mandela and Bishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, and it’s the heart of this neighbourhood’s tourism experience. After that you can enjoy cocktails at the stylish Protea Hotel Fire&Ice, in Melrose Arch, which also has a chic in-house restaurant that serves breakfast, lunch and dinner to tantalise your tastebuds with sumptuous cuisine.

A wonderful space to enjoy is within the Magaliesberg mountains, but if your staycation involves a slightly longer range, Bloemfontein and surrounds are surprisingly picturesque, with quaint spots to enjoy the views and small, family-run businesses that offer personalised service.

The Cape of many personalities

Staycations and road trips are ideal within the Western Cape where, even in summer the weather is generally mild and pleasant. From whales to penguins, beaches to forests, there’s so much to see. If nature’s only part of what you enjoy on holiday, you could also indulge in a retail adventure in some of Africa’s top stores and boutiques at the V&A Waterfront. The periphery of Cape Town itself provides some attractive places to base yourself, from which you can explore deeper inland, visiting spots like Durbanville and Franschhoek. The many wine routes that wind through the region offer dozens of farms and estates, each with unique varietals and many entertainment and dining options.

You could be enjoying this summer’s top experiences in an affordable way that’ll leave you with plenty of memories and stories to tell.

Avukile Mabombo is Group Marketing Manager, Protea Hotels by Marriott