On Safari at MalaMala Game Reserve

Safari at MalaMalaIn February, we headed off to one of the few continents I had yet to visit, Africa. I am an ardent animal lover who has passed that love on to my 5 yr old son, thus a safari excursion was the perfect birthday present for me and the entire family. If you read our planning a trip to South Africa post, you will know that it was not easy to find a hotel that would allow our young son to fully participate in the safari experience. Luckily, our diligent research paid off and we found MalaMala Game Reserve in Sabi Sands, on the outskirts of Kruger National Park.

Sabi Sands is known as one of the finest Big 5 areas in all of Africa. There are no fenced borders between the reserves and Kruger National Park, so the animals move freely, making their way to the two year round rivers in the area. Due to the near constant water supply, it is almost guaranteed that you will see the Big 5 during a visit, and often even during a single day.

Our trip was all that we had imagined and even more. Exactly what I had wanted for my monumental birthday. Being in the bushveld as a visitor to the animal kingdom was awe-inspiring. It’s taken me months to digest it and try to put it into words. It put in perspective how insignificant we are in the scheme of life on earth but also how detrimental our short existence has been to those who were here before us.

Safari at MalaMalaAfter flying on 3 flights and for more than 30 hours, we finally landed at the small MalaMala airstrip. I loved flying low over the bush spotting animals far down below. But that excitement was nothing compared to seeing our first animals up close and personal. Get ready to fall in love with one of the most majestic places on earth. I really hope it wasn’t a once in a lifetime experience because I am dying to return!

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Uthando: A New Way of Visiting the Townships of Cape Town

Uthando: A new way of visiting the townships of Cape TownThere is much controversy in the so called “poverty tours” – do they provide a learning experience or is it just a way to gawk at those less fortunate? Having lived in Mumbai working in many poor and slum communities I am particularly aware of this type of tourism and it’s many sides. In some ways, it is educational for the people visiting to actually see with their own eyes how so many people throughout the world live, survive and often thrive on so little while we in the West spend our days focusing on our “first world problems”. However, looking at the other side, would you want to be a poor person having their lives, homes and livelihoods being treated as entertainment? Probably not. Hence the dilemma for us on our recent trip to South Africa.

As a former non-profit worker and advocate, I was quite interested in seeing the townships of South Africa in person that I had heard about for years, however I didn’t want to just take a bus there on our own to essentially gawk at the community members. I was lucky enough to find a really great alternative that met my desire to see and experience the townships, while also not putting people and their homes on display like they live in a zoo.

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Witnessing a Lion Kill on Safari

Witnessing a lion kill on safariThere are many reasons people go on safari in Africa; but, it’s safe to say, the main reason is to see animals in their natural habitat, untamed and free to be wild. Not every person comes to see the same thing, either. Some come for the close-up photo opportunities, some for the less well known mammals or birds, while some go on safari for the exhilaration of seeing a kill.

Prior to our trip to South Africa, we spent weeks checking out the Mala Mala Instagram feed surveying the animals we would soon see in person. It is there that we first saw a video of lions attacking a buffalo. It was horrifying, mesmerizing and addicting. I was too squeamish to watch with the volume on, however, my 5 year old was hooked. Seeing the circle of life in action quickly became the *must see* on his South African adventure wish list. Mine was a bit simpler.. only to see a herd of zebra grazing peacefully on the open savannah. But would either of us get our wish, we weren’t sure when we set off on our adventure across the world. 

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Where to Eat in Cape Town with Kids

Where to eat in Cape Town with KidsOne of the most stressful parts of travel for me is figuring out where to eat. Somehow I manage to research and plan most aspects of our travel, always forgetting to look at food options. However when you travel with kids (or a mama who gets hangry!) this is kind of important.

We typically find ourselves in situations with almost no choice or like in Cape Town, an abundance of options. To be honest, I found Cape Town to be a bit overwhelming in the food department because there were just so many choices everywhere we looked. However, on closer inspection, many of the places don’t have kiddie menus which means paying full price for a meal your child may or may not eat.

On our quest to find family friendly restaurants, we lucked out and found a few gems we would highly recommend to others. Below are our the top 5 restaurants we ate at in Cape Town that not only provided delicious food for children, but also helped to entertain them!

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Where to Stay in Cape Town with Kids

Where to Stay in Cape Town with KidsCape Town is one of the most spectacular cities I have visited in my many years of travel. From its picturesque beaches, abundance of outdoor activities and vibrant local culture, Cape Town offers something for everyone. Kids especially will love taking a cable car up the mountain, watching penguins play on the beach and exploring neighborhood playgrounds. It’s a beautiful, friendly and accessible city that welcomes visitors easily, much like my other favorite city, San Francisco. Cape Town is a wonderful place to base yourself, for as long as you possibly can!

The problem is knowing where to base yourself! While planning our trip to the city, we were stumped about what area would be best for families. There is not a ton written on exploring Cape Town with kids, so we took a gamble and chose the safe bet of the V & A Waterfront. It has its perks, but after thoroughly exploring the city, I have even more recommendations on where to stay in Cape Town with kids.

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Our South Africa Family Holiday

Our South Africa Family HolidayWe just returned from an amazing South Africa family holiday for 12 glorious days to celebrate my 10th birthday (yes, I am a leap day baby!). 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. I have so much information to share but I will start with a quick recap for those of you that don’t follow me on Facebook.

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Planning a Trip to South Africa with Kids

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Photo via Flickr

This year is my 40th/10th (leap day baby) birthday. I decided I wanted something epic. For years the plan had been to go to Tibet to chill with the monks, but with the addition of a child on the scene, I realized that the chill in February might be a bit too much. Instead, our sights turned to Africa, one of only 2 continents I have yet to step foot on. And so the planning began!

I’m not one to shy away from destinations because they are ‘difficult’ or ‘dangerous’, but we definitely have felt the odds stacked against us more than once in planning this trip with a child. Here is some of what you need to know when planning a trip to South Africa with a child.

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