Travelling with children in South Africa
South Africa is the perfect place for a family holiday over the festive season. With its fabulous wildlife reserves, craggy mountains and powdery beaches lapped by two oceans, this diverse country has so much to entertain every generation.
In our view, the most important ingredients when travelling with your kids are space and freedom. Therefore, we tend to recommend spacious private villas and apartments or child-friendly hotels that don’t compromise on the parents’ enjoyment. We also believe that travel distances should be minimal, with longer stays in each place, to avoid too much packing and unpacking. Every family has different requirements but we can tailor everything to suit you.
With this in mind, we have designed what we feel is a strong example of what we can arrange for families in South Africa. The following two-week adventure combines safari, beach and city, taking you along the Garden Route from Kariega Game Reserve in the Eastern Cape to Cape Town in the Western Cape, with a few stops along the way.
The ultimate two-week family holiday in South Africa
Begin your journey in the spectacular Kariega Game Reserve, the ideal place for a gentle introduction to Big Five safari. Here, your home will be Kariega River Lodge, with its 10 thatched rooms that have breathtaking views of the Bushmans River and surrounding hills. Each one has its own large deck, where you can sit and quietly read a book or play Snakes & Ladders. Jolly boma dinners are served around a campfire under the starry night sky.
Kariega is, of course, a safari destination, so we encourage you to make the most of the twice-daily game drives – but its real advantage is that it is a bush-beach escape. Therefore, there are a variety of other activities on offer, including swimming in the picturesque pool, fishing, canoeing and guided bush walks. A highlight of any stay is a cruise along the Bushmans River, through the idyllic village of Kenton-on-Sea, to the picturesque beaches on the coast, which are perfect for sandcastles and picnics.
After four nights in this stunning reserve, it’s time to drive west along the Garden Route to Hog Hollow Country Lodge, a scenic three-and-a-half-hour journey. Set in a private nature reserve, just 18km east of Plettenberg Bay, it is a fantastic choice for families. The atmosphere is laid-back but the commitment to excellent service is unwavering and the food is top-notch. As with Kariega, it is family owned and run, making it much more personal, and there are just 15 suites, all with private decks. The lovely swimming pool is great for children.
Hog Hollow is the perfect base to explore the region, and there are endless activities to occupy both parents and youngsters alike. It has a private-access trail through the forest to the Monkeyland Primate Sanctuary, along which you can travel on foot or horseback. We can also organise whale- or dolphin-watching outings, picnics on the beach or hikes in the Tsitsikamma Forest.
After three nights at Hog Hollow, embark on your five- to six-hour drive to Schoone Oordt Country House in Swellendam, South Africa’s third-oldest town, at the foot of the Langeberg Mountains. This elegant Victorian house with glorious, landscaped gardens – great for playing ‘it’ or hide-and-seek – makes a convenient two-night stopover between Plettenberg Bay and Cape Town. The area has plenty of fun adventures for all ages. Younger children will love a visit to the Fairy Sanctuary or a tractor ride at Weltevrede Wine Estate, and we can also arrange for you to go horse-riding in the Hermitage Valley or Marloth Nature Reserve, a wonderful outing for all.
Your final destination is Cape Town, South Africa’s most beautiful city. With majestic Table Mountain at its heart and the vast Atlantic Ocean stretching away from sandy shores, it has huge appeal. We suggest staying at More Quarters for your four nights here. The hotel’s Family Suites and Interleading Luxury Suites, kitted out with myriad toys to play with, are a brilliant option for children, and there is a wonderful child-minding service to keep your kids out of mischief while you relax. The famous Belmond Mount Nelson Hotel and The Vineyard are also among our favourite hotels.
Alternatively, private villas and apartments are a winner as they can be fully staffed or you can enjoy the freedom of cooking for yourselves and testing out the Mother City’s impressive restaurant repertoire. The elegant, modern Lawhill Luxury Apartments are centrally located, overlooking the City Bowl’s V&A Waterfront, with its shopping malls, restaurants and Aquarium. Skydance in Constantia is another incredible choice.
We can create special guided experiences in Cape Town that are totally tailored to every family’s needs. One of the best of these is a carefully curated day out to the Cape Peninsula, which includes a treasure hunt among the treetop canopy walkways of the Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden, a visit to the seals in Kalk Bay and a colony of penguins in a hidden cove, and a walk along Cape Point’s trails, where you might be fortunate enough to spot the Cape Five: ostrich, baboon, mountain zebra, bontebok and tortoise.
Another popular family escapade is a day spent exploring Cape Town in a ‘mega minivan’ packed with exciting gear, such as surfboards, kayaks, a blow-up dingy, stand-up paddle-boards, beach toys and bicycles, stopping off for fun and games along the way. Your private guide will surprise you with a tasty picnic in a stunning, wild location somewhere.
At the end of the fortnight, you will have enjoyed some of the best of South Africa’s bush, beach and city experiences. We believe that this marvellous country provides everything you could wish for on a family holiday.
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