Like wearing green and gold on a Saturday or dunking Ouma rusks in rooibos, braaiing comes naturally to South Africans. Armed with matches, grid and charcoal, Meghan Spilsbury sought out SA’s best hidden braai spots
Cape Town, Western Cape
In need of a holiday, but can’t get away? Tucked away in the mountains of the Cape Peninsula is Silvermine, the ideal spot for city dwellers craving a little nature fix. A lucky packet of fynbos, birdlife and intriguing rock formations means almost every visit is unique. To work up an appetite before braaiing up a storm next to the mountain dam, explore the many trails and paths that traverse the reserve. A well-maintained boardwalk means access to the dam is wheelchair and pram friendly.
021 789 9002
Open 7 am – 7 pm
Entry R40 per adult, R20 for under 12s
Mac Mac Pools
Mac Mac Pools is by far one of South Africa’s most beautiful braai spots. With plenty of grass to lounge on and thick shade to rest under, this spot 10 km from Sabie is the perfect place to park off and watch the world go by. Brave the cold and wade through the crystal-clear mountain pools – the ideal foil for a stressful week. Picnic tables, ablutions and braai facilities are readily available and the spectacular views are free of charge. And, to walk off that last little spoonful of potato salad, stroll along the Secretary Bird Day Trail that starts at the pools.
013 755 1988
Open 8 am – 5 pm
Entry R10 pp
Fish Eagle picnic site, Pilanesberg Game Reserve
Near Rustenburg, North West
Looking for a braai spot that’s blessed with butterflies? I’ve found just the place. While home to some of Africa’s largest wildlife, the Pilanesberg Game Reserve also serves as a safe haven for several species of butterfly. To catch a glimpse of a foxy or bushveld emperor while preparing lunch over the coals, head up to the very popular Fish Eagle picnic spot beside Mankwe Dam, where you’ll find both braai facilities and the reserve’s resident butterflies.
014 555 1600
Entry R65 per adult, R20 per child, R20 per pensioner, R20 per vehicle
Seekoeivlei Nature Reserve
Memel, Free State
If you prefer to spot birds while you braai, visit Seekoeivlei Nature Reserve. This birding Mecca lies just outside the quaint town of Memel, on the leading edge of the Free State’s high escarpment, and is home to white egrets, flufftails, white harriers, long-tailed widow birds and kingfishers, to name but a few. With more than 250 species in the area, visitors are invited to scour the skies and wander the wetlands in search of their favourites. You can head straight for the braai facilities, or spend some quiet time in one – or all three – of the primely positioned bird hides. Birds of a feather flock together, so perhaps it is best to opt for beef over chicken for this particular braaiing adventure…
058 924 0034
Open 6 am – 6 pm
Entry R60 per vehicle
Assegaaibosch Nature Reserve
Stellenbosch, Western Cape
If sipping on a glass of crisp white wine while enjoying a braai in the Winelands appeals to you as much as it does me, pay a visit to Assegaaibosch Nature Reserve. Lined with trails and tracks – perfect for trail running, hiking and nature-loving enthusiasts – this is just the picnic spot for families, friends or anyone wanting one-on-one time with Mother Nature. Set on the Eerste Rivier in Stellenbosch, the reserve offers you spectacular displays of fynbos, wild flowers and indigenous plant species – all breathtakingly beautiful, especially when admired from the comfort of a picnic blanket. A gentle heads-up to the wild at heart: the reserve allows only 60 people access on a first come, first served basis.
Open 8 am – 6 pm
021 866 1560
Entry R40 per adult, R20 per child
I’m a black-and-white girl at heart, and little compares to a throng of Sharks supporters, especially when they gather en masse around a braai to celebrate a win in the Shark Tank. Rugby fans of all jerseys are invited to join the festivities as supporters congregate around the stadium’s various stations, reminiscing over game play and questionable match moments. If you’re a team player and a lover of rugby (and can handle the odd taunt made in jest), then you should definitely take your boerie to King’s Park. (Disclaimer: The atmosphere at the Shark Tank may vary depending on the outcome of the game!) Entry to the post-match braai festivities is granted on presentation of a match-day ticket, as well as a parking ticket for the outer field.
031 308 8400
Photography Gallo/Gettyimages, Alamy, istockphoto
(This article was first published in the summer 2014/2015 issue of AA traveller magazine)