It’s been written that – just like Nando’s – all human beings originate from South Africa. Perhaps that’s where my life-long desire to visit this incredible country derived. What did I learn? South Africa is a perfect destination for all ages and interests. From beautiful beaches, breathtaking vistas, cosmopolitan cities, world-class food to (of course) the wildlife. This place really does have it all.
Here are 5 reasons why South Africa should be at the top of your family holiday list.
1. They’ve got the Big Five
I didn’t know this but that’s traditionally the five most dangerous adversaries for a big-game hunter: Lion, elephant, Cape buffalo, leopard and rhino. Nearly every province in South Africa has vast natural parks where you can enjoy a safari. Many of the game reserves have fantastic facilities for children making for an incredible family adventure.
We enjoyed a superb safari experience at River Bend Lodge based in the Addo National Elephant Park. I’ll be posting a review of our stay on the blog soon. In the meantime you can read my seven tips for an incredible safari here.
2. Malaria free
With children in tow one of my main concerns going on safari was malaria. South Africa as opposed to other African countries offers malaria free game viewing in the Eastern Cape and Waterberg areas. A relief not to deal with pesky mosquitos and making the little ones take the anti-malaria bullets (sorry I mean tablets).
3. Luxury at affordable prices
Brexit? The pound is still mighty strong against the Rand. Welcome news when travelling with children, as we all know how quickly costs mount up. Good old Sterling stretches to luxury beyond what most budgets would usually permit. Whether it’s the classic colonial or more contemporary feel you’re after there is a lodge to suit every taste. Hog Hollow Country Lodge was another fabulous place where we enjoyed a couple of nights. Located on the edge of an indigenous forest with breathtaking views of the surrounding valleys and the Tsitsikamma Mountains – Review coming soon.
I have to also say whether it’s a hotel, lodge, restaurant or simply shopping the service in this country is superb. You’re always made to feel you’re their top priority.
4. No jet lag
When you take into account South Africa is 8800 miles away in another hemisphere, you might think the time difference would be huge. Wrong! It’s only two hours ahead of GMT, which means during our summer it’s only an hour. Win-win!
We took a 9pm night flight from London and arrived at 10am the next day. Having managed to sleep on board we were ready for a decent day’s sightseeing as soon as we stepped off the plane.
5. More to it than safari
South Africa is not just about the magnificent wildlife, there is a lot more than a safari on offer. We combined our trip with three days in the beautiful coastal city of Cape Town with Table Mountain as its backdrop. From there we enjoyed a tour of the spectacular Cape Peninsula with CAT-Africa, which you can read about here. We were all literally bowled over by the mighty South Easter winds at Cape Point and the girls were smitten with the penguins at Boulders beach.
We also took advantage of a day trip to the Cape winelands of Stellenbosch and Franschhoek with Cape Wine and Leisure Tours. We indulged in a spot of wine-tasting for the adults and grape juice tasting for the kids. You can read about our amazing tour here.
Our road trip along the Garden Route is where we found our beach fix. Some of the best are to be found in Plettenberg Bay in the Western Cape on this popular route. Warning though, the Atlantic is obviously on the tad chilly side and Great Whites are common in the area (I admit it, I passed on the shark cage diving thing but its all there for you if you want it). Anyway it still doesn’t take away from a glorious day on the beach whilst the kids build sandcastles and you lap up the dramatic scenery.
Rest assured I shall regale you with detail about all these incredible experiences – stay tuned.
It’s safe to say that South Africa stole my heart – The spirit, the people, the wine, the food, the animals. It’s a fabulous destination for a family holiday and don’t let no-one tell you otherwise. Please don’t let the scaremongering you will hear or read put you off. Yes there are unsafe parts, but as long as you stay clear and are sensible you have absolutely nothing to worry about.
Also don’t forget the Republic’s new travelling-with-children rules. You’re required to show your child’s full unabridged birth certificate, and where only one parent is travelling with the child, proof of parental or legal authority to travel with the child is required. All documents are throughly checked upon arriving and leaving the country. Not a problem, but do remember to bring original docs or certified copies.
Hand on heart it has been our best family holiday to date, and there is so much more of the country I want to see. Watching my girls experience some of the sights, poverty and adventures over the ten days has shown me travel really is one of the best educations in life.
I hope to see you again very soon South Africa!
Have you ever been to South Africa? Is it somewhere you’d consider to travel with children?
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