family vacation to Cape Town SA

Old Mar 10th, 2006, 10:08 PM
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family vacation to Cape Town SA

Hello all,

I will state upfront that I apologize for my ignorance in regards to South Africa and Cape Town. I have traveled to many places in the work but never to Africa. My wife has a conference in Cape Town, South Africa in early September. We are thinking about turning her business trip into a business/vacation trip. Here is the deal. It would be me (33 years old), my wife (32) and our daughter who will be about 1 year and 5 months old next September. Over the past hour or two I have read a bunch of reviews about SA and it looks like most people talk about safariís and shark tours as well as visiting the mountains. I guess my point is that it is a long and expensive flight and is SA/Cape Town more of an adult vacation or is it somewhere where we can bring our baby girl? She is a good traveler so I am not too worried about the long flight. She has been all over the US as well as Mexico and she isnít even 1 yet. I know that is kind of a dumb question because there is somewhere in SA for children but do you know what I mean? If you were going to spend $2000 per person on flight alone with a baby would you spend it there or somewhere else? I read up on safariís and it looked like you need to spend several days out in these areas and I saw the word Malaria mentioned in some of them. I would think that spending a few days on a reserve is probably not the best place to take a baby. What shots do you need for travel in Africa anyway? It has always been a dream of mine to go t Africa and now we have the chance but I am not sure this is the right time. Any insight would be helpful. Also, which airlines would you recommend flying from the US? We live in Denver, Colorado. We would be staying in Cape Town for about 5 days for the conference and then would have about 9 or 10 days for vacation. Would you recommend staying in Cape Town or traveling somewhere else?

thoefen is offline  
Old Mar 10th, 2006, 10:29 PM
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Hi! I wouldn't recommend 9-10 days in Cape Town alone, as SA is a country of fantastic diversity. However, with a 1 yr old, i am not equipped to give you any suggestions.

I only can offer suggestions as to safari destinations, which i'm not sure is possible with an infant.

Old Mar 11th, 2006, 12:50 AM
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There are certainly lots of places (including malaria-free safari reserves) where you can take your daughter.

She's young enough that she probably won't really remember what you do or where you go when she gets older, so you may want to focus primarily on what you and your wife would enjoy doing whilst having her with you.

I think it's quite possible to spend 9-10 days in the Cape, split between Cape Town itself and other nearby areas. If you enjoy wine and food, you could split your time between Cape Town itself and the Cape Winelands. Another option would be a meander down the Garden Route towards Port Elizabeth -- very scenic with lots of quaint little towns. Your daughter might really enjoy the Outeniqua Choo-Tjoe train, an old-fashioned steam train which runs between George and Knysna.

If you do want some time on safari, another great child-friendly malaria-free option is Kwandwe in the Eastern Cape -- it's run by CCAfrica who are known for the quality of their children's programmes. It's about 1.5 hours from Port Elizabeth and would make a nice finale to a trip on the Garden Route. You could then fly from PE back to Cape Town or Joburg for your flight home.

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Old Mar 11th, 2006, 01:50 PM
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Thanks for the great ideas!! What is the weather like in September. I saw some average temps for that time of year and it looked a little cold?


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Old Mar 11th, 2006, 04:19 PM
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By all means, go to South Africa. Cape Town will be lovely in September (It was perfect last October).

But I would really consider leaving your baby daughter with a trusted relative while you're away. No matter where you're coming from, it is a really, really long flight back and forth. Your daughter won't remember anything about the trip and may enjoy traveling, but safaris are not really for small children. A lot of guest houses and safaris do not allow children under the age of 10 or 12, although there are a lot that do allow them.

If this is going to be your dream African trip, plan what you and your wife will enjoy. The Garden Route is lovely, even though a good deal of time is spent driving. The Cape of Good Hope can be done in one day, but nice if you can spend a day and night in Hout Bay on the way. A couple of days in the wine country would be fun while you're in Cape Town.

Check previous posts looking at Cape Town for good restaurants, info on Table Mountain and all the rest of the good stuff. Then buy at least one guide book before you leave home to read on the trip and know what you want to see and do.

Then check this site for a lot of very good safari trips, the experts are out there.

Go for it, and let us know if you need any help, you can't find more Africa experts anywhere. - Joan
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Old Mar 12th, 2006, 08:57 AM
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I'm with treasuresofafrica - leave your daughter with a trusted caregiver (I recognize this isn't always a family member). Then - make this a truly memorable (and romantic) vacation for you and your wife!

I haven't done the Garden Route, but we spent several days in Cape Town and then went to the wine country (Franschhoek). We DID have our kids with us - but they were 9 and 11! They were able to appreciate the museums, the sights, and even got interested in the wineries!

Your daughter won't remember any of the trip and it will make it more difficult (no matter how good the child is) to really enjoy yourself.
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Old Mar 20th, 2006, 02:56 AM
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we travelled to Cape Town last December including Garden route and Winelands. There was anther British couple travelling with their 9 month old baby and had found their holiday pretty stress free, and had only pre-booked a few guesthouses. They were spending perhaps more time at each place than we were. Your daughter will be walking by next September which could make a difference. Personally I would take her along. There seems to be plenty of animal parks all over - monkeyland, butteflyland, ...and the South africans seem very family orientated. Your daughter will I think be free to fly? but i think you will have to split your journey up a bit.

September is a great time to visit as it is just before peak season but still warm. (although I hear it can rain a bit). Guesthouses can be half the price at this time of year. Also go to Hermanus (I think 4-5 hours from Cape town) where there will be loads of whales at this time of year. I heard last September there were approx 80 in the bay at once, calving.

5 days is plenty in Cape town (there's an aquarium there and plenty of seals for kids). I'd recommend staying at the Waterfront if you go with a child, then you don't have to bother with taxis in the evening the same as there is a good choice of restaurants etc.

Don't know how it works on a safari with a child, you would be best contacting them direct and asking their advice. Addo Elephant Park sounds child friendly near Port Elizabeth, people seem to combine this with another safari? Hope this helps
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Old Mar 20th, 2006, 05:29 AM
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I still go with my opinion that - if possible - the daughter should be left at home with a responsible caregive...for several reasons...

Children under 2 generally fly free BUT that means the parents have to hold the child for the whole flight. MAYBE you will be lucky enoug to have an empty seat next to you...but no guarantee. And it's a very long flight.

While there are lots of things to see and do for kids in South Africa for kids - I just don't think a 17 month-old child is old enough to appreciate them. I certainly wouldn't take a child that age on a safari.

The child simply isn't going to remember any of it. It would be so much nicer to be able to take her to SA 10-12 years from now....and show her all the places you loved on your first visit.

Finally - I just think this is a great opportunity for an adult-only vacation. SA is a beautiful country - and you need to be able to enjoy it fully, without worrying about naptimes, jet lag, crankiness, and the safety of a walking toddler.

I guess it seems like I don't like kids....but quite the contrary. I love kids and I strongly believe in travelling with kids and exposing them to different people and places (that's why we've lived overseas for so long). BUT I also believe strongly that you need to occasionally step out of the "mom and dad" roles and remember how to be a "couple!"

Just my opinion........

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Old Mar 20th, 2006, 09:43 AM
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My husband and I are planning to take our 20 nmonth old daughter to SA. We plan to spend 4 days in Cape Town and 4 days in Sun City where we'll take turns to go to Pilanesberg. I want more kids, and while travelling with one is hard enough - it will be more difficult later. I don't want another 10 years to see SA.
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Old Mar 20th, 2006, 10:24 AM
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Seems like I've unintentionally hit a sore spot...

More power to anyone who wants to take a toddler on a major trip. It's a lot of work, but if you're up for it...go for it! I've done lots of small trips with my boys when they were young (they were great travelers) - but nothing like a trip to SA.

I guess I'm just looking at it from a different perspective. My kids are now young teens and I already see them starting to move on with their lives (luckily - the move is slow and still confined to the neighborhood). As a result, I'm starting to see what the future holds for me and my husband, which is a lot more time with just us - as a couple - and less time as caregiveres (the parent role never goes away). It seems silly....but it's not an easy transition.

Over the years, we have periodically taken trips with just the two of us (Calgary, Bar Harbor, Natchez, Wash DC, Paris, London, Cairo) and while we missed the kids enormously and phoned frequently - we cherished the time we had together.

Now that we live overseas, we don't get that "alone" travel because we don't have family who can watch the kids. Our vacations are very family-oriented and we love it because the kids are active in the trip planning process and fully participate in the activities we pursue. Some trips are educational/cultural in nature...others are pure fun. We have a blast together and (I believe) have a stronger family because of the time we spend together.

These are just my thoughts....I don't mean to suggest that they are right for everyone.
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