Spring is here and it is time to take the kids outdoors, explore new places, clean off the grid and fire up the braai. While very little can beat the experience of sitting around the braai in your own garden, it’s also good to challenge yourself every now and then; get out and about in South Africa and braai somewhere extra special. It just so happens that South Africa is awash with scenic braai spots just waiting to be discovered by the adventurous braaier, so pack the car, grab the kids and set off on a braai adventure.
1. Maiden's Cove, Cape Town
Nestled between Clifton and Camps Bay with a backdrop of Lion’s Head, you light your fire at Maiden’s Cove with Table Mountain and the 12 Apostles looming over you and the Atlantic Ocean in front of you. As far as scenery goes, it couldn’t get better.
There are various built-in braai places and picnic spots between the granite rocks, so you don’t need to worry about a portable braai. On a nice day you can watch the paragliders making their way down from the top of Lion’s Head landing just beside you. After the recent winter storms the tidal pools are washed crystal clear, perfect for your first swim of summer.
2. Oudekraal, Cape Town
In the same area; drive a few kilometres further towards Hout Bay and you can braai at the SANParks managed Oudekraal picnic site too. Oudekraal sits between Bakoven and Llandudno and has calm waters that are popular with swimmers and snorkelers, so on a hot Summer’s day, go for a dip while waiting for the fire to burn out and the coals to be ready. Oudekraal will be open on National Braai Day. Wild Cards and Green Cards can be used to gain entry - adults need to present their South African ID books or a driver’s licence upon entry when using a Green Card. No alcohol is permitted in the picnic area and the vibe is family friendly.
3. Lambert's Bay, or any other town on the West Coast
Situated 280km from Cape Town and dubbed the ‘Diamond of the West Coast’, Lambert’s Bay boasts a moderate climate, long white beaches, and abundant marine and bird life.
There are fantastic places to braai all along the West Coast. The air is clear, there are endless white sandy beaches, the people are friendly and the fish is fresh. Saldanha, Jacobsbaai, Velddrif (the finish line for the annual Berg River Canoe Marathon), Laaiplek, Elands Bay, Doringbaai, Strandfontein; all these towns are worth a visit for a braai. Wherever you braai along the West Coast, skip the biltong and eat some Bokkoms for starters.
I specifically mention Lambert's Bay as the caravan park there is slightly elevated and overlooks the beach. It’s open for day visitors so braai there during your weeklong fish-braai tour of the West Coast and if you need to nap after your braai, just pitch your tent.
4. Coney Glen, Knysna
The Garden Route has an abundance of public braai areas that can be listed as some of the best in the world. You can braai on the built-in braais right on the beach at Victoria Bay or on Leisure Island in Knysna. There are various spots in the Knysna Forest on the Knysna and Wilderness sides as well as stunning locations on the lagoon in Wilderness. But for me the isolated wonder and idyllic setting of sea-facing Coney Glen is a must-braai spot. Located at the foot of the Knysna Heads, you can slowly sizzle away an afternoon while watching the boats as they come and go through the treacherous Heads, a graveyard of many a ship. The high cliffs and secluded bays provide a backdrop that is both serene and scenic.
5. The top of Sani Pass, KwaZulu-Natal
There is a half oil barrel braai at Sani Mountain Lodge at the highest pub in Africa. On a nice day you can (with permission) carry this drum to the very edge of the escarpment. The Sani Pass lies below you and you braai with a view that stretches to beyond eternity. Even though there is less oxygen at 2874m above sea level, there is still more than enough oxygen in the air for your wood fire to burn properly.
6. Vilakazi Street, Soweto
As we all know by now; the only street in the world to have housed two Nobel Peace Prize laureates, but also a street that knows how to have a good time. Chances are you will not have to braai for yourself but can simply feast at a chisa nyama – a place that braais your meat for you. It’s almost, but not quite like a restaurant. Look out for real community spirit if you visit on a busy day – neighbours have been known to loan out their furniture to overflowing eateries. Once you've experienced that side of Soweto, buy lots of meat, wood and beer and go for a braai at Thokoza Park. This public park in Soweto has lots of built-in braai places and is a great location to unite around a fire.
Check out our beautiful hub of braai recipes that will make your Summer sizzle!
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