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South Africa for Families
Only in South Africa
- See the mass migration of southern right whales
- Visit the Born Free Big Cat Rescue Centre at Shamwari
- Become a junior safari ranger at Tuningi Lodge
- Spot two wildlife 'big fives' –the land five and marine five
✓ Good all Year round
✓ Adventure & Activity, Wildlife
✓ 5 years+
South Africa's Eastern Cape is a super safari spot for children of all ages: both its landscapes and waters are teeming with exciting animals;many lodges cater brilliantly for kids (think junior ranger programmes and footie matches against the locals);and some reserves are malaria free, meaning you needn't worry about the mossies.
You'll know you're somewhere special straight away...Cape Town is one of the world's most dramatically located cities, squeezed between the ocean and Table Mountain. And Cape Grace, right on the waterfront, makes a magical base here. When you've explored the city, you can relax by the hotel's heated pool or listen to storytellers weave African tales.
The nearby Winelands region might sound as if it's more suited to Mum and Dad –but is equally intoxicating for the under-18s. At Babylonstoren, one of the oldest Cape Dutch farms, kids can collect their own breakfast eggs from the chickens then join the duck herder with his charges as they enter the vineyards to eat the snails (the ducks that is, not the children!). Families can canoe on the dam and cycle through the orchards too –there are 200 hectares of working farm to explore.
Hermanus is the self-declared whale-watching capital of the world, and between July and December hundreds of southern right whales swim by, so close you can see them from the shore (great if the kids get a little sea-sick). You might see other creatures off the coast too –from dolphins to sharks!
The Garden Route region of South Africa is packed with private reserves and centres where the game-viewing is incredible and the focus is on families. You can get up-close to cheeky chappies at the Monkeyland Primate Sanctuary, stroll trunk-in-hand with Dumbo at the Elephant Sanctuary and take a cheetah for a walk at Tenikwa Wildlife Awareness Centre.
To see the Big Five –lion, leopard, elephant, rhino and buffalo –head for the malaria-free Shamwari Game Reserve. As well as heading out on safari with keen-eyed guides, you can visit the rescued lions at the Born Free Foundation Big Cat Rescue Centre.
Or stay at Tuningi in the Madikwe Game Reserve (also malaria free) to learn how to be a wildlife ranger. Kids can head out on treasure hunts, looking for bones and snake skins;trace animal tracks around waterholes;make animals from clay;toast marshmallows on a bush barbecue;and keep a log book of everything they've spotted, from trees to poo!
Did you know...
- The marine Big Five is whales, sharks, dolphins, seals and penguins
- Milkwood trees, found on the Grootbos Reserve, live for more than 1,000 years
- A baby lion is called a cub, a whelp or a lionet
- Most snakes shed their skin four to eight times a year
- Capuchin monkeys like to rub millipedes on themselves –they act as an insect repellent!
- The hardened patches of skin around the 'nose' of a southern right whale are as unique as a fingerprint
The Boring Bit
- Airline routes –London Heathrow direct to Cape Town and Johannesburg
- Flying time –11+ hours (GMT +2 hours)
- Visas –Not required by UK nationals. Note, those travelling with children under the age of 18 need to take an unabridged birth certificate for each child to show at immigration
- Health considerations –The game reserves in Southern Cape are malaria free. Yellow fever certificate required if coming from an endemic area. Please consult your GP
Family itineraries in South Africa
Our preferred family accommodation in South Africa
Victoria & Alfred Waterfront, Cape Town
Hog Hollow Country Lodge
The Garden Route
City Bowl, Cape Town
Sample Itineraries which could be adapted for families
Classic South Africa
Nights: 13 | from £5,750
The Rainbow Nation has it all: mountain highs, wild (and wildlife rich) seas, endless savannah filled with game and an easy-going atmosphere. In two weeks you can combine the magnificent city of Cape Town, with a classic road trip and a first-class safari.
Cape, Kalahari & Kruger
Nights: 12 | from £6,450
Experience the diversity of South Africa in high style, in less than two weeks. Combine lively and lovely Cape Town with an exclusive Kalahari wilderness stay and the Big Five wild-life of super Sabi Sands.
Highlights of South Africa
Nights: 13 | from £3,399
This journey of the Rainbow Nation takes in Cape Town and the Winelands, the spectacular coastline of the Garden Route and culminates with a safari in the Kruger National Park.
Alternative family friendly accommodation in South Africa
The Twelve Apostles Hotel and Spa
Madikwe Game Reserve
Shamwari Riverdene Family Lodge