Beat the lockdown blues by planning your next trip! We’re all yearning for some epic quality time with friends, but while our borders are still closed, we have time to plan our adventures…

We’ve rounded up ten epic destinations around the globe perfect for a ‘friendcation’ when we’re ready to hit the roads (and skies) once again. Begin planning your friendiversary for next year and rally the tribe.

1.     Follow the call of the Wild Coast

Load the boot with chips and biltong, pump up the playlist and hit the road to the bumpy Wild Coast. Just the spot to get far off the beaten track, the Wild Coast is as magical, and ‘free’ as its name suggests.

Marvel at the sea that crashes through Hole in the Wall near Coffee Bay, one of Mother Nature’s most remarkable treasures – found right here in Mzansi. Expect cows, traditional isiXhosa villages and not many other people around, just you and your mates.

2.     Spot the miracle of life in the Kruger

Plan a spring break in the Kruger. From September, the first migrant birds start to return from their journey north and, by November, young cubs can be spotted. Enjoy game drives and cosy up in front of the fire after dark, sharing stories long into the night.

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“Seeing lion cubs playing together, a giraffe calf taking its first teetering steps or, if you are incredibly lucky, a female leopard and her cubs, is a bonding experience you will never forget,” says Bianca Mazur, Flight Centre Travel Group General Manager.

 

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Beauty of a shot from @gerritackermanwildlife – A Leopardess resting in a Jackel Berry tree not far from her cubs den site.

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3.     Explore the Spice Island

The Spice island of Zanzibar presents the best of both worlds – a blissful beach break and an exotic destination brimming with multicultural heritage and great food. It’s a perfect destination for friends, with activities to appeal to many diverse interests. Don’t miss a visit to a spice farm.

4.     Gather the herd and head for the hills

Gather the herd for an off-the-beaten-track local break in Mpumalanga or KZN. Pick from the Sabie River, the lush forest and savanna plains, or head to the misty mountains of the KZN midlands for hikes and endless fresh air.

5.     Reunion on Reunion Island

Visa-free and just a four-hour flight from Johannesburg, Reunion Island is the perfect place for a tropical island escape with a difference. It’s a nature and adventure lovers’ playground with the gin-clear waters of the L’Hermitage lagoon, helicopter trips, hiking an active volcano and canyoning through magical waterfalls in lush cirques.

6.     Dune-bash in Namibia

Adventure seekers can make the long drive to Namibia to discover endless dunes and kilometres where you’re unlikely to encounter any other humans. Marvel at star-studded skies, excellent wildlife viewing and unspoilt coastlines. Sandboard, climb and explore the surreal dunes on a quadbike. 

7.     Dive into Mozambique

If you’re into seafood, scuba diving and snorkelling, or just endless kilometres of beach or lazing in a private splash pool, Mozambique is a fabulous pick for groups of friends. Easy to get to (Maputo is just an hour’s flight from Joburg) it is also visa-free for local passport holders.

A fresh coconut bought from local traders on the island of Pomene, Mozambique (Pic by Claire Warneke)

8.     Discover the delights of Turkey

For the multicultural flavours of Europe and Asia, and easily accessible on direct flights from South Africa, consider Turkey, with its unique mixture of culture, sights and experiences.

For South African travellers, Turkey remains one of Europe’s most value for money options. Explore Istanbul or hire a Turkish gulet for just you and your friends, eating home-cooked meals and soaking up the sunshine between snorkels.

9.     Shop in glitzy Abu Dhabi

For a long time, Abu Dhabi was the conservative cousin of Dubai. While Dubai was all glitz and glamour, Abu Dhabi was all business, but that’s not the case anymore— step into the Louvre Abu Dhabi, and you’ll be convinced. Don’t forget to visit the exquisite Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, and shop ‘till you drop at the Marina Mall. For shoppers, this is paradise.

10.  Good morning Vietnam

Head east, not to traditional favourite Thailand, but to the exciting shores of Vietnam. Head out of the bustling and fascinating city centres and discover a slower pace of life in the rural countryside outside H?i An and Hanoi. Vietnam is appealing for the budget-conscious traveller, with lower accommodation rates (especially if you head out of the cities) and with deliciously fresh and affordable food. Start the day with a traditional iced coffee in Hanoi and hire motorcycles for about R100 a day to explore daily life in rural Vietnam.

Start planning a trip you’ll never forget – a ‘friendcation’ of a lifetime.

Get savvy with group saving

Don’t be that friend who hasn’t paid their way. Setting up a Stokvel is an excellent way to contribute to your joint holiday, minimising the chances of any tension later.

For example, the Flight Centre Travel Group offers a specialist travel Stokvel account, requiring a minimum amount of R500 to set it up and completed application form with signatures of each member. Provided the amount of R500 is retained in the account at all times, Stokvel members can withdraw the funds for any use at any time, not just to book travel.