South Africa Trip With 4 Kids- Seeking Advice!

Old Jun 3rd, 2017, 08:58 AM
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South Africa Trip With 4 Kids- Seeking Advice!

Hello- My husband and I are planning a trip December 20 2017 - January 6 2018 with our four children ages 5, 8, 10, and 13. My parents are temporarily living in Johannesburg, so we are going to visit them. We would like to have meaningful and varied experiences with our kids, but we don't have much of a budget (we had to choose between going as a couple and having money to spend or blowing our budget on 6 plane tickets to bring the kids- we think it is worth bringing the kids). I have contacted a couple of travel agencies and it seems like with our budget, using a travel agent may not work very well. So, although I have been reading this forum for months now, I decided to officially post to ask for advice on our tentative itinerary.

- Joburg with Grandparents Dec 20-24
- Dec 25- Drive to St. Lucia (with grandparents), spend the afternoon and night there
- Dec 26- Possible game drive at Thula Thula Game Reserve (we read the book by Lawrence Anthony and think it would be meaningful to have our older kids read it and visit a place they have some prior history of, but we're not sure- an alternative would be to do some activities in St. Lucia
- Afternoon/evening of 26th- drive to Milwane Wildlife Sanctuary in Swaziland and stay in a Beehive Hut
- Dec 27- Visit Milwane Wildlife Sanctuary, hike to waterfalls, visit Swazi Cultural Village. We could stay there again that night, but would have to move to a different accommodation because they don't have the same availability the night of the 27th. Any other recommendations for where to go next or where to stay that night would be great.
- Dec 28-30 We are tentatively planning to stay at Vuyatela Lodge at the Djuma Game Reserve in Sabi Sands starting on the afternoon of the 28th. I would love to hear any experiences people have had staying here. In looking through the forums, most information I can find is from before they converted it to a self catering lodge. It seems like a more affordable safari option for our family than many of the game reserves. We have a few days to decide before they require our payment, so advice on this would be most appreciated.
December 31-January 1- Johannesburg with Grandparents
January 2-5- Cape Town (without grandparents). It looks like a lot of accommodations are already full there, so we might end up renting an apartment on Air BnB or something like that. I am hoping to spend a day hiking Table Mountain with our kids (we live in the mountains and they are good hikers) and also visit Boulders Beach.
We will probably try to book a flight home on the evening of the 5th.

QUESTIONS:
1. Does anyone have experience with Djuma Game Reserve who could advise us whether this is a good safari option for our family?
2. Does anyone have recommendations as to whether it would be better to go to the Swazi Cultural Village in Mantenga or just visit the Cultural Village associated with Milwane Wildlife Santuary (Umphakatsi Cultural Experience and Esitjeni Village)? I know there is also the Lesedi Cultural Village near Joburg, but we thought it would be fun for our kids to add another country to our trip.Thoughts?
3. Any experiences with or thoughts on a possible visit to Thula Thula?
4. Does anyone have suggestions for things we could add into our itinerary that would be memorable for our kids (we are not planning to do things we could do in the states like visit aquariums and zoos)?
5. Any suggestions for our few days in Cape Town?


I hope that wasn't too wordy. Thank you so much for any help! Reading these forums has already given me a lot of insight that I didn't even know I lacked!
jalr13 is offline  
Old Jun 4th, 2017, 06:01 PM
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Hi,

Your trip sounds great! South Africa is a great destination to plan on your own, you really don't need to use a travel agent.

My thoughts:

If you're truly looking for an affordable safari option I would suggest looking at the SANPark accommodations in Kruger ( https://www.sanparks.org/parks/kruger/ ). You can choose from tent sites, permanent tents, bungalows, guest houses etc. at significantly cheaper prices than most private game lodges. Most of these accommodations are basic but perfectly adequate and most are self-catering, but there are restaurants and supermarkets in and close to the Park. You can join an organized game drive, bush walk or other activities at your chosen rest camp or self-drive. This is how many locals do it, I remember doing it this way when I was a child and also more recently and loving the adventure. Some people prefer a more luxurious experience with meals and game drives included, so this is of course your choice.

If you're driving from Kruger back to Johannesburg you can stop at places along the beautiful Panorama Route e.g. Bourke Luck's Potholes, God's Window, The Three Rondavels, Blyde River Canyon, the Pinnacle, Pilgrim's Rest etc.

Another option to consider is the stunning Drakensberg, combined with a Sani Pass and Lesotho excursion, highly recommended! Depending on the tour, you will get a chance to see how the Basotho shepherds live, prepare food and experience really beautiful scenery.

In Cape Town, Table Mountain and the penguins at Boulders Beach are great options. You can also consider visiting the beautiful Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens, driving to Cape Point, Chapman's Peak and even visiting wine farms - these usually have nice scenery and other things to eat and do for non-drinkers and children as well. There are also some really nice beaches. If you have time, you can drive north to places like Langebaan and Paternoster to see typical West Coast villages. The Langebaan Lagoon in the West Coast National Park has warmer water without big waves and is great for swimming and other water activities such as kite-surfing (mostly in Langebaan), boat cruises, jet-skiing etc.

Personally I wouldn't spend that long in Johannesburg, but I understand that this might be because your parents are staying there and maybe to recover from the flights.

You will be traveling during the long summer school holidays so many locals will be on holiday as well. Everything will probably be very busy so it is definitely a good idea to finalize your accommodation and travel plans now already.

I hope this helps and have a great trip!
lidia_s77 is offline  
Old Jun 5th, 2017, 07:32 AM
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Thank you for the suggestions! I will check into all of those options!

Yes- the length of time in Johannesburg is because of my parents and wanting to give them more time with the kids.

I really appreciate your help!!
jalr13 is offline  
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