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South Africa With Toddler In Tow. Who here has done it and how did it go?

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I'll be making about my 10th trip to Africa, and about my 7th to South Africa but this time, for the first time, it will be with a child, as my wife and I will be with our 15 month old daughter.

We're hoping for the best on the flights, LAX - London Heathrow - Johannesburg - Durban and elected to save money by having her on our lap. It is my understanding that providing there is an empty seat, that they will allow a baby to occupy the seat and make every effort to seat us all together. We still had to pay, what was it, 20% or so of the fare because it is international rather than domestic (children under 2 fly free in the USA), but it was still worth the 80% savings, or I am saying that now prior to the actual experience.

We are starting out with 3 nights in Durban at the end of next May as I am running the Comrades Marathon (89 kilometer "ultra marathon") and I booked us into a great looking furnished apartment right on the beach and just about half a mile away from the Hilton which is the host hotel for the 20,000 runner strong race. I just thought it would be nicer for us to have our own little apartment on the beach with our own kitchen, washing machine/dryer and other amenities lacking in a hotel room and I've had nothing but good luck using AirBNB.com in the past where I booked this after reading only glowing reviews for this individual apartment.

We will have a rental car throughout the trip and after our 3 nights in Durban are completed it is about a 3 hour drive to our next stop, Isibindi Zulu Lodge, a safari lodge but more focused on cultural activities with Zulu dance performances, than on gameviewing (there are no predators in the traversing area or at least no lions or leopards). I thought this would be a nice experience and it looks like a great place.

From there, it is another 3 hour drive or so to our next safari lodge, Leopard Mountain Lodge, set in the Big 5 Zululand Rhino Reserve, where we will spend 3 nights. This is a little tricky because at the moment, my wife is hesitant to leave our daughter, during game drives, with a babysitter provided by the lodge. Maybe that will change but for now we are talking about alternately each going on game drives as, obviously, a 15 month old cannot go on game drives.

This gets us going on our route that will make for a more forgiving drive (another 2.5 hours?) to our 4 nights at Thonga Beach Lodge, set on the Maputaland Coast, not far south from the Mozambique border. The only other lodge within a dozen or more miles, I believe, is Rocktail Bay, but I preferred the looks of Thonga Beach Lodge. This will be nice as we'll have four days altogether as a family on a pristine beach that should still have nice enough weather despite it being early June (winter) due to its location on the Indian Ocean bordering Mozambique.

Then, we finish up with 3 nights at Mkuze Falls Game Reserve, a 5 star luxury lodge that has been on my radar for half a decade or more. I picked up a package on LuxuryLink.com for an unbeatable price, I mean even lower than cost for a tour operator. Mkuze Falls is in the Pongola area around some other really nice looking 5 star lodges but it is NOT in Mkuze Game Reserve. Mkuze Falls is located about halfway between Durban and Joburg so, from there, we are just driving back to JNB for our onward flight home.

Any tips for traveling with a toddler, rental car, experiences with daycare at safari lodges, etc. will be greatly appreciated! :-)

http://www.isibindiafrica.co.za/izl/index.htm
http://www.leopardmountain.co.za/
http://www.thongabeachlodge.co.za/
http://www.mkuzefalls.com/index.htm

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