If you are looking for one of the most tremendous family adventures out there, consider a family trip to South Africa. Our South Africa family holiday for 12 glorious days to celebrate my 10th birthday (yes, I am a leap day baby!) was everything I dreamed it would be, but also proved to be one of the most amazing destinations to take animal loving children. I wanted something totally epic and unforgettable and that would keep the entire family engaged so I didn’t have to ‘take care’ of everyone. This was the perfect trip. Below I provide a quick recap of our trip with links to specific pages on how you can do this too.
A Family Trip to South Africa Begins…
After two long, but perfect 10+ hour ‘sleeping’ flights, we landed in Johannesburg, where we were quickly whisked away to the Federal Air lounge to board our next flight. Even though I was exhausted after 30 hours of travel I couldn’t stop staring out of the window on our 8 seater plane at the landscape below. It was different than I had imagined. Greener than I thought it would be with the drought, with more cliffs and hills that I imagined.
Landing at the MalaMala private airstrip, our driver and guide drove us back to the lodge to get settled quickly before our first game drive. Forget jetlag, there was no time! Exactly as I had hoped.
Our first game drive was insane! It was everything we had hoped a safari would be and more. Right out of the gate so to speak, we happened across a rhino (pictured above). It was a sign of what was to come. We crossed off almost everything on our wish list on that first drive except an elephant, zebra and cheetah. We saw a pride of lions kill a buffalo, 5 leopards, many rhinos, hippos, giraffes, baboons, impala, kudu, and more! It was beautiful and amazing. The perfect start to our holiday.
Four days of 2 a-day game drives with an outdoor activity thrown in in the middle of the day kept us fully occupied during our stay. I would highly recommend one of the many private game reserves in Sabi Sands outside of Kruger National Park for anyone wanting to do a safari with kids. We thoroughly enjoyed our stay at MalaMala Game Reserve. There are no fences between the reserves and the national park which means the animals move freely between all of the spaces. In the reserves, the guides are allowed to drive off road getting you up close and personal with the animals, which is exhilarating. Not to mention, the absolute abundance of animals that is sure to keep even the grumpiest of kids engaged.
Sad to leave our wonderful world of daily animal sightings, we were on to the next adventure in Cape Town.
Cape Town – Part 2 of our Family Holiday in South Africa
Wow, what a beautiful city! I had heard it was amazing and it did not disappoint.
Wasting no time, we dropped our bags and headed straight to Table Mountain. We had been told to go straight away if the weather was clear as it changes by the minute. So off we went.
Table Mountain was the perfect introduction to a beautiful seaside city. We were able to quickly get our bearings while enjoying a spectacular sunset view over the entire city, Chapman’s Peak drive and beyond. We loved hiking so high above the city. Cian loved it so much, he wanted to return every day of our trip for more.
During our time in Cape Town, we took several walking tours to learn more about the city’s history and its vibrant neighborhoods like the Bo Kaap neighborhood. This area is home to fabulous ethnic food, beautiful vistas and colorful homes.
We explored beautiful gardens and walked amongst trees on the Canopy Walk at Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens in a suburb of Cape Town.
We visited amazing non profit organizations throughout the many townships surrounding the city to learn more about the work being done to empower some of the city’s poorest citizens. Considering my former work in the non-profit sector in India, this was an amazing opportunity to see more than just the poverty that permeates the townships. While this doesn’t often make it on to a family trip in South Africa itinerary, it should. It was really amazing and eye opening for both the adults and the children.
A family trip to South Africa is not complete without a day trip around the breathtaking Western Cape to see the adorable African penguin colony at Boulder Beach.
We hiked and explored at the most southwestern point of Africa at the Cape Point Nature Reserve.
We oohed and awwed over wild baboons and wild ostriches as they meandered along the coast.
As we drove through the little seaside villages, we day dreamed about what it would be like to pack up and move! After an amazing 5 days falling in love with Cape Town and the surrounding coastal areas it was time to move on to Johannesburg for our final 2 days.
Family Trip to South Africa – Part 3: Johannesburg
On the agenda was a township tour to Soweto to see Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu’s former homes, souvenir shopping at the Sunday market and visiting with friends.
Johannesburg definitely doesn’t have the beauty of the Cape and has an altogether different vibe, but nevertheless it was well worth the stop. I only wish we had a little more time to explore a few more things on our to do list, but home was beckoning.
Overall, it was a truly epic trip, resulting in a lifetime of memories to cherish. We are now safari obsessed and can’t wait until we have the time (and money!) to plan another African adventure. Many people may think twice about going on a family trip to South Africa with young kids, but even after 6 years, my son still remembers this trip vividly, talks about returning and has set so many goals in his mind. This is an epic adventure worth the time and money anytime you can make it happen.
Have you been to South Africa? What were your favorites?
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1 thought on “The Most Tremendous Adventure: A Family Trip to South Africa”
Fantastic pictures – looks like an amazing journey! You have one lucky little man there!! 😉