In a country known the world over for its sonskyn en bosveld, few would ever imagine that snow-skiing in South Africa could be possible. But look further into the country’s interior and you’ll find that the scenic Drakensberg mountain range reaches high enough to be dusted with soft, white, fluffy snow during winter months. This is the setting for one of South Africa’s national treasures – The Tiffindell Ski Resort.
Smaller than most European resorts but fiercely determined not to miss out on the joys of snow, the resort lures hundreds of local and international visitors to come and experience the freedom and exhilaration of its slopes.
After two decades in operation the legendary resort was sold and then ran into an ownership dispute,but luckily was recently saved by, Lew Campbell, who has been training South Africans to ski for the last 30 years at The Ski Deck – a ski training facility in Randburg.Hard work for the last six months has resulted in a multi-million rand upgrade. The resort is now in full operation as a world class winter getaway that offers a full ski experience with accommodation for more than 130guests.
“The resort’s upgrades translated into revamping the ski lifts and ski runs, state-of-the-art snowmaking and grooming equipment, a restaurant, ski shop, ski school and conference facilities"
“Skiers are happy that Tiffindell is back in the hands of the ski community – we want to find the formula for a sustainable resort that can offer a snow and ski experience for South African winter adventurers,” said Campbell. His high hopes for the future are coupled with his keen interest in working with the local community. Many original staff members have returned. Local suppliers are being used where ever possible and the Eastern Cape Highland communities and farmers have overwhelmingly rallied behind the project.
The resort’s upgrades translated into revamping the ski lifts and ski runs, state-of-the-art snowmaking and grooming equipment, a restaurant, ski shop, ski school, conference facilities and the newly-built luxury mountain suites that overlook the beautiful, tranquil valley belo
Improvements also included the enlargement of one of the Tiffindell dams to increase the snowmaking capacity. Combined with Tiffindell’s modern snowmaking and snow grooming equipment, snow-lovers now have the best possible conditions to ski in, in an African climate. Natural snowfall of up to a metre in 36 hours has been recorded in recent years but thanks to ever-improving snowmaking techniques, the current equipment can produce snow 20 centimetres deep over the 2.3 hectare site in 24 hours when conditions are right. The slope lengths are around one kilometre with two long ‘Poma’ lifts to take you up the mountain.
Skiing is an invigorating holiday sport whether you’re aged six or 60. Highly experienced local and international instructors at the resort will teach you to ski or snowboard at the Snowsport Training Centre, whether you’re on snow for the first time, or if you just want a few technique pointers. Abeginner ski or snowboard course is compulsory for all first-timers. All the equipment you need is there - from winter gear (which you can hire or purchase) to a range of awesome accessories, ski jackets, pants, gloves, beanies and goggles.
While the adults take to the slopes, the little ones can have just as much fun learning to ski, building snowmen, making snow angels, having snowball fights and tobogganing or bum-boarding down Bumboard Alley – it’s all part of the ‘Snowfun’ resort programme for kids.
You don’t have to stay at the resort to experience South Africa’s snow, as day passes are available to visitors. Even non-skiers can come and enjoy a uniquely South African snow experience with a range of daytime activities including scenic walks to the frozen waterfalls or to the spectacular Telle Falls.
Tiffindell’s Après-Ski (After Ski) activities are some of the best in the world. The Upper Limits restaurant overlooks the beginner ski slope and is the ideal spot to satisfy big lunchtime appetites. Later on, you can enjoy a schnapps and Glühwein in the Ice Station - South Africa’s highest pub. Try some local snowy cocktails, hang upside-down from skis and watch the flame torch ski demonstration. Yeti’s Retreat Pub is also great to have a few drinks in as the sun goes down. Sit by the fire or party the night away.
Whether it’s a dream family holiday, a spirited getaway with a bunch of mates, or a romantic lover’s retreat, Tiffindellholds a special place in the hearts of many South Africans. You have to admit, skiing in South Africa definitely has a special ring to it.
Did You Know?
· Tiffindell Ski Resort was established in 1993 and grew to a fully equipped winter snow resort.
· On an average winter’s day, the snow resort can host up to 300 skiers on its slopes.
· Tiffindell boasts the highest located pub in South Africa - the Ice Station is located at 2 720m above sea level!
· Tiffindell has been the proud host of South African National Ski and Snowboard Championships since 1993.
· The resort will continue its ski racing development program from towns around the area and has already seen one of its local skiers attend the Junior Olympics.
· Summer activities in the area include some of SA’s best fly fishing, mountain biking, quad biking, alpine hiking and the famous eight passes route for motorcyclists.
· There are more species of alpine flowers found there than anywhere else in the country.
· The hamlet of Rhodes is situated in the valley below Tiffindell and is a National Heritage Site.
· This winter is Tiffindell’s 17th ski season.
WIN a three-night getaway for two people! Including accommodation in a luxury chalet, breakfast and dinner, equipment hire, lift passes and resort entertainment
Valued at R7378!
To enter: www.onroutemag.co.za