South Africa is a fantastic holiday destination for families, offering a wide variety of options when it comes to keeping mom, dad and the kids entertained and enthralled. Here are six of our favourites:
Madikwe Game Reserve, North West: the North West province is a great destination for families living or visiting Gauteng or Pretoria. It’s a 3-4 hour drive to Madikwe (depending on where you’re coming from) and a big five destination that was once farmland, but that all changed due to a massive wildlife relocation programme called Operation Phoenix. Madikwe is now home to an amazing variety of wild animals – over a vast and diverse area. There are a number of luxury lodges in the reserve, some offering children’s programmes and activities with a nature and wildlife theme. These kid-friendly lodges include Jaci’s Lodge, Tau Lodge and Madikwe Safari Lodge. Kids will adore the Madikwe Cubz programme on offer at Madikwe Safari Lodge.
Blue Marlin Hotel, Scottburgh, Kwa-Zulu Natal: This South Coast hotel was relaunched earlier this year after a major revamp. Being over 60 years old – many South African families have fond memories of this iconic South Coast Hotel, with its gorgeous views of the coastline and variety of activities for kids of all ages. While the beach and surrounding area hasn’t had a lick of paint for a good decade, the hotel is spick and span with lots on offer for the children including daily entertainment, swimming pools, a trampoline and jungle gym and a games/play room conveniently adjacent to the coffee shop and bar. It’s fun and friendly in a bucket-and-spade kind of way. Older kids and teens will love adventures to the Oribi Gorge and mom and dad may like a diving excursion to Aliwal Shoal.
Umngazi River Bungalows, Eastern Cape: You have to book way in advance to secure your space at this popular Wild Coast establishment that continues to be a favourite choice for families year in and year out. Situated on a gorgeous lagoon and surrounded by miles and miles of pristine beach – there is so much to do at this remote getaway. There’s a rigorous kid’s programme for children of all ages – whether it’s boarding down the sand dunes, going on nature walks or doing arts and crafts. There are also nannies to take care of the babies and little ones, meaning that mom and dad can get some time out and maybe spend a few hours at the Umngazi Spa.
Thompson’s Bay, Kwa-Zulu Natal: The best-kept secret along KwaZulu-Natal’s North Coast (in between Ballito and Chaka’s Rock), this secluded little bay has a great beach and an enormous tidal pool – bring along the inflatables and hang out on the water for hours. Lifesavers are on duty during the holiday months and during peak times. There are great “adventure walks” along the beaches and craggy outcrops. You can also buy curios, hats and t-shirts, fishing nets and ice-creams nearby.
De Hoop Nature Reserve, Western Cape: A highly popular destination for families, De Hoop Nature Reserve is situated in the Overberg region of the Western Cape. If you stay at one of the properties that make up the De Hoop Collection you’ll find that there is a lot of nature-related activity on the go, meaning that kids dump the iPads and iPods to hang out in the great outdoors. There is a variety of accommodation on offer and the boat trips are a highlight of any visit. From around September to February it’s whale season and you have a good chance of seeing a few frolicking in the bay. Hiking, biking and quad-biking are all on offer in this beautiful reserve, known for its bio-diversity.
Plettenberg Bay, Western Cape: While it can get a little manic in Plett over Christmas when every Vaalie (person from Gauteng, previously known as the Transvaal) congregates over the December holidays – Plett is still an amazing destination for families in search of rest and relaxation. There are lots of accommodation opportunties on offer from luxury hotels to bed and breakfast establishments and even holiday apartments. Enjoy the kid-friendly beaches, the nearby Robberg Nature Reserve and boating trips up the Keurbooms River (not too far out of town).