Family thinking about going to South Africa

Sep 14th, 2010, 10:51 AM
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Family thinking about going to South Africa

We are a family of 5 with boys aged 6, 12, & 14. Next summer is my 50th birthday so we want to do something special for it such as a safari. I have looked into several countries and it seems that South Africa is the friendliest one if you have younger children. Do you agree with this assessment?

We welcome your suggestions about safaris that are good for children. We also would explore some of South Africa. Right now we are thinking maybe 5 days on a safari and 12 days exploring elsewhere (e.g. Capetown for sure-- suggestions for where else?). And maybe a trip up to Victoria Falls?

We are at the beginning stages of planning this trip so we welcome all feedback. Thanks.
jeanned is offline  
Sep 14th, 2010, 10:52 AM
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oops I inadvertantly tagged this as a trip report... sorry!!!
jeanned is offline  
Sep 14th, 2010, 02:09 PM
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I would agree...I've been to Africa on ten trips and this latest one was to S Africa...(our first safari to S Africa--we had gone nearly everywhere else...) and they were definitely family friendly---I was under the impression that small children weren't allowed in many of the camps we visited in Bostwana, etc...but many families were travelling together in S Africa...I definitely would go tehre if I was researching a safari for the family...the country is also more connected to the grid and likely to have amenities a family would more likely need...not as rustic as other places if you know what I mean...
gatoratlarge is offline  
Sep 14th, 2010, 02:11 PM
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Hello Jeanned,

What a lovely prospect!! I would advise you what I advise my clients with children: several days (mininum 4 nights in Cape Town), one or two nights in the Winelands (there ARE intersting things for chidlren to see, besides the wine tasting!!). Then pick up a car and drive the Garden Route, with stops in Oudtshoorn (visiting an ostrich farm, Cango Caves), Knysna (Featherbed Nature Reserve with spectacular views, Knysna Elephant Park). Then drive on towards Port Elizabeth in Eastern Cape, drop the car off at the airport where you will be picked up by the staff of Kwandwe Private Game Reserve for the safari part. (Stay at Echo Lodge). Kwandwe is in the @Beyond portfolio and it is a malaria free reserve, so you don't have to deal with the malaria issue. Then fy from Port Elizabeth via Johannesburg to Victoria Falls and stay on the Zambia side of the Falls. This would give you an excellent overall experience of South and Southern Africa. I can recommend accommodations, but as an agent I can not reveal my identity - rules of the game, sorry!
Good luck planning and believe me - you are in for a beautiful treat! South Africa is very family friendly and the infrastructure is excellent.
mkulove is offline  
Sep 15th, 2010, 07:51 AM
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I would suggest you look in to Kwazulu Natal, so much to see and do in this beautiful Province, home of the Zulu and the warm Indian Ocean. Beach, Bush, Berg and Battlefields is the Kzn motto. You can tube ride the small rapids of the Drakensberg Mountains, hike, take hot air balloons, paraglide, horse trails, visit the bush area of Kzn North Coast and visit the beaches, Cape Vidal for snorkeling, diving, whale watching (seasonal), turtle tracking (seasonal), canoe the St Lucia, Isimangaliso wetlands, boat cruises to see hippo and croc and visit some of the most diverse and amazing game parks, such as Phinda or the Hluhluwe/Mfolozi National Park.

So much to see and do in this region after all hundreds of local tourists that flock to this province in the holidays, can't be wrong.
kimssouthafrica is offline  
Sep 15th, 2010, 10:24 AM
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Given the age of your children, I would recommend a self-drive, where you can set your own schedule and be totally flexible and independent. For a safari, I would recommend Kruger National Park. There are some lovely, well-priced self-catering accommodations and it is easy to drive yourself around the park. The camps are fenced, which would be important given the age of your youngest. If it were me, I would be inclined to spend 4-5 nights in Cape Town and then fly to Kruger via JNB and spend the rest on safari. Our safaris are typically ~10 nights and we find that just about right. Have a look at - near the top, there is a drop-down list of parks. If your dates are flexible, avoid SA school holidays, when Kruger is very busy. No matter when you are going - book soon! If you are planning to go in summer ( I am assuming you mean June, July, August), keep in mind that it is winter in SA - peak time for game viewing, but it is the rainy season along the south coast/Garden Route. Frankly, I don't think Vic Falls is worth the side trip - it is a long way from SA. If you want to add something different to the end of your safari, I would be more inclined to take the boys to Namibia and have them climb the dunes - in which case you might want to consider Kgalagadi NP in SA (same website as Kruger) for your safari, which is driving distance from both the dunes and Cape Town. You could fly into Cape Town, go on safari in Kgalagadi, drive to the dunes and then fly home from Windhoek (the capital of Namibia). It would be a busy 17 days - I might be inclined just to do the safari and CT.

Have a look at this link - it is our trip from 2008, where we flew into CT, drove to Kgalagadi, and then to the dunes - a self drive with a mix of lodges and self-catering. There are both fenced and unfenced camps in Kgalagadi. Robin
canadian_robin is offline  
Sep 15th, 2010, 11:52 AM
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Although I've never taken boys on vacation and you know best what you all would like, I very much 2nd canadian_robin's suggestions.

Safari is a very unique experience and like CR I would make it the emphasis of a trip to South Africa. That is, spend my majority of days on safari. We have been to Kruger several times and will again next year. Vic Falls is nice but unless water falls are something you swoon over I would not go out of my way.

Here is a calendar showing SA school holidays for 2011 -

regards - tom
cary999 is offline  
Sep 15th, 2010, 02:23 PM
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Canadian Robin is right on the money -- a self-drive is great with kids the age of yours. And Kruger is wonderful beyond description. I would not suggest Kgalagadi, though. We've been to Kruger 10 or 15 times over the last 30 years, and have been to Kgalagadi once, in 2008. We found it breathtaking, and would go back in a minute. But there are no elephants there, and you surely want to see elephants. And also, in Kgalagadi you have to carry in your own water, and that requires planning, vessels to carry it in, and room in your car for that much water. Also, you have to do your own cooking in all the camps except the one nearest the entrance, so if you want to go farther afield, you need to carry in your own food. In Kruger, most camps have restaurants and snack bars, as well as options for cooking for yourself. (So you can make your own coffee and get out early to look for game, and then have a big breakfast at the restaurant later.)

Another advantage to going in June-August is that the malaria risk is practically non-existent then.

It sounds like a wonderful way to mark your important birthday!
Celia is offline  
Sep 16th, 2010, 08:03 AM
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Celia has pointed out some of the advantages of Kruger over Kgalagadi - most importantly, the greater diversity of wildlife. If you decide just to do CT and a safari, then I too would recommend Kruger over Kgalagadi. Kgalagadi is as much about the breathtaking scenery (something that your youngsters may not appreciate) as it is about the wildlife. Regular readers of this forum will know that there is no greater fan of Kgalagadi than me but, in this case, unless you plan to visit the dunes, I too would recommend Kruger over Kgalagadi. Robin
canadian_robin is offline  
Sep 16th, 2010, 12:16 PM
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Wonderful advice!!!

A few questions:

mkulove: What is there for children to do in the winelands? My husband and I would very much like to explore this area but want to make sure that there are some child appropriate activities. Also do the wineries frown upon children? I would think that our boys would enjoy a tour or two and after that would be content to throw a ball around while we are "sampling" the fruit. Would it be rainy in the Winelands in July? I understand that we should expect rainy weather in CT.

kimssouthafrica: Will the weather be appropriate for us to do some of these water activities? They sound wonderful!

Canadian Robin, what an amazing trip you had!!! Thank you for sharing your link.

cary999 thank you for the school holiday calendar.

Please keep the advice coming!!
jeanned is offline  
Sep 16th, 2010, 09:19 PM
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June July is our winter, but we have the most temperate weather in SA at this time of year. There is the odd cold spell if there is snow on the berg, but that generally only lasts a day or two. My most recent blog posts and photos in Kzn are all taken in our winter. (the post will mention winter somewhere, to be sure of what you are reading). The world cup visitors could not believe the superb weather they were treated to in Kzn' winter. So short answer, yes water activities can be done at this time of year, the water will be cooler than our summer, but certainly not so cold not to enjoy the water.
kimssouthafrica is offline  
Sep 16th, 2010, 09:22 PM
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Ps super tubing in the berg is unlikely as the rainy season is our summer and therefore the water levels in the mountains will be lower and the rivers not flowing enough.

Official Kzn website
kimssouthafrica is offline  
Sep 17th, 2010, 05:57 AM
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Hello again Jeanned,

Activities in the Winelands for your kids:

1. Spier Hotel Resort – Visit the Cheetah Outreach Project and Eagle Encounters, Pony rides, climb rocks in the picnic area.

2. The Giraffe House Wildlife Awareness Center. It promotes education and respect for African wildlife, with guided tours, talks and an interactive snake/reptile show.

3. Le Bonheur Crocodile House, guided tours are conducted every half-an-hour

4. Butterfly World including Reptile Bay, Spider Room and the Iguana Cage.

5. Monkey Town Primate Center where your kids can be hugged by a monkey in the interaction area.

6. Visit Franschhoek Motor Museum if the kids are interested in cars with a collection of vintage cars, including convertibles and World War II military vehicles.

Kids are accepted on the wine tours but they may get a bit bored. However, they will pick up some knowledge and appreciation of what it takes to produce wine - from careful grape growing to all steps that lead to putting a bottle of wine on the table. This is a fascinating process and they will enjoy it. A tour of this type tyically takes about 1/2 hour.

Enjoy your planning - such a great trip for you and your family - SOUTH AFRICA NEVER disappoints.
mkulove is offline  
Sep 17th, 2010, 06:08 AM
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Thanks kimssouthafrica and mkulove!
jeanned is offline  
Sep 17th, 2010, 07:14 AM
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You are very welcome!
mkulove is offline  
Sep 18th, 2010, 02:29 PM
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If you go to Spier (which I would also recommend) to visit the cheetahs, then have lunch or dinner at the Moyo restaurant - book ahead (you can book online - just make certain that you get the correct Moyo - there are a couple of locations) and ask for a table in one of the treehouses - this was a huge hit with all of our young Canadian visitors. At night, the treehouses are lit with tiny, white Christmas tree lights - very pretty! Also, your sons will love having their faces painted (with silver paint, in the dot-art-like Xhosa style), which the Moyo hostesses do for all guests. Dinner and lunch are buffet style and feature dishes from all over Africa - it is a good way to allow youngsters to sample foods from across the continent. Dress warmly for an evening meal - they provide blankets and there are fire pits, but you still need long pants and fleeces. Robin
canadian_robin is offline  
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