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Planning a family holiday to South Africa

South Africa is the perfect place to take the kids. It’s teeming with experiences that will fill their heads with wonder, like horse rides through open country and sightings of the famous Big Five.

Choose from this diverse country’s variety of habitats to get your ideal trip. Are you a city family or a beach family, for instance? And is a safari a day trip for you or a week-long, headfirst dive into the heart of nature? These are things only you can answer. 

A diverse itinerary

One way of witnessing the scope of this country’s many habitats is to choose an experience that will take you all over. The Family Cape Adventure, Meercats & Madikwe itinerary, for example, begins on the beaches of Cape Town before you go off to see the vast Kalahari Desert. Then you’ll join in a search for meerkat families and ancient rock art, before journeying to seek out the Big Five in Madikwe Game Reserve. There’s a huge appeal to this adventurous race around South Africa’s most stunning sights, but many will want to take their time. After all, who says you can’t come back again and again to holiday in each of these locations? This way, you can really get to know them.

Shamwari

This game reserve, like those mentioned below, is completely malaria-free. And with dedicated "Kids on Safari" activities organised by the children's co-ordinator as well as the chance to see all of the Big Five, Shamwari Riverdene Family Lodge is the perfect way for families to experience a safari. For close-up experiences, you can also find the Animal Rehabilitation and Born Free Centres here on the reserve. There are a few other Abercrombie & Kent lodges in the area too; check out Eagles Crag and Sarili Lodge to get even deeper into the wilderness. 

Madikwe and Waterberg

Madikwe Game Reserve stretches over the picturesque Madikwe Hills which sit on the edge of the Kalahari – as a transition zone, it attracts many rare species. Among the ever-popular big cats, you can find both black and white rhino and over 350 species of bird, and it’s also home to the A&K lodge, Ant’s Hill. Here, riding lessons are complimentary, and the wild terrain makes horseback the perfect way to get around. The guides are all experienced, and each knows just how to bring every portion of your surroundings to life before your eyes. 

Many travellers like to combine at trip to Madikwe with the nearby Waterberg Biosphere, another safari hotspot which is home to archaeological discoveries dating back to the Stone Age. For families with children over six, Marataba Safari Lodge is set deep in the hills and is run entirely on solar power. This is where you can truly get in touch with nature, with game walks, swimming and night sky safaris on offer. 

The Kalahari

In this desolate desert you can find comfort, luxury and homeliness coupled with adventure, discovery and fun. Part of Relais & Chateaux, Tswalu, The Motse and Tarkuni are a collection of lodges on the edge of South Africa’s biggest private game reserve, home to some of the country’s rarest and most adaptable creatures. A host of children’s activities are run by the friendly staff and for the adults there’s an award-winning spa, while the whole group can broaden their minds at the talks given by the reserve’s ecologist. 

Cape Town


Those families wishing to get the best out of the beaches, restaurants and museums of Cape Town should give More Quarters a try. A complimentary shuttle service will take you from fashionable Kloof Street down to the famous V&A Waterfront. Spend an afternoon out of the city with a trip up Table Mountain, and come back to relaxing evenings in these homely apartments, or in the lounge area or library. Kids will be inundated with activities, from Bugz Playpark to EDRO (educational robotics) to aquariums and theme parks – and, of course, opportunities to see the marine Big Five. 

Find out more about South Africa holidays and the best time to visit South Africa.