It may seem obvious, but the best advice you will receive when planning a trip to South Africa is to base your holiday around the animals as opposed to the places. And if you’re driving along the popular Garden Route then try to keep the driving stints to a 3-hour maximum. Especially if you have kids in tow.
Whilst South Africa offers a wide range of extreme activities that get you up close and personal with South African’s wild inhabitants, it’s good to know which ones are child friendly. Cage diving with sharks perhaps isn’t at the top of every parent’s priority list.
From the endless opportunities South Africa offers, these are 6 favourites. These pack in all of the fun and adventure without the side dish of danger.
Safari on the Garden Route
No trip to South Africa is complete without an original safari trek, and there is no better time or place to spot the “big five” then along the Garden Route. The big five include: lions, elephants, buffalo, leopards and rhinos.
At the Garden Route Game Lodge, you can book you and your little ones onto an action-packed family safari. Opt for a private gamer viewer or jump in with other families and give the kids a chance to make new friends. Besides the game drive other activities such as the guided bush walk, insect hunts, and fishing at the watering hole give you and your family a chance to come face to face with South Africa’s wildebeest.
A River Cruise or Kayak with Crocodiles
At 85km long the St. Lucia Estuary is one of the longest in South Africa. Home to hundreds of hippos, thousands of crocs, and a healthy dose of bull sharks to boot, a river cruise tour offers plenty of opportunity to see these magnificent creatures in their natural habitat. Tucked away safely on your large boat you can admire these animals safe in the knowledge that you won’t be on their lunch menu.
However, for those who are looking for a thrill, and are aged over 12, a St Lucia Kayak Safari allows you to take to the water for a more personal experience. With your heart in your mouth and your hands gripping the paddle tightly, kayakers can float alongside sunbathing crocodiles and get a good look deep into the deadly jaws of a yawning hippopotamus!
Back on land and it’s time to feel at one with nature while sat atop a horse. The Bhangazi Horse Safaris welcome any riders over the age of 6; no experience required.
As you ride through the iSimangaliso Wetland Park, various types of animals and wildebeest run alongside and all around you. This isn’t just an experience that brings you within touching distance of African wildlife but makes you a part of it!
Canopy tours are one of the most exhilarating ways to explore a new or exotic landscape and in South Africa this is no different. Take your pick of zip lining adventures all over the country from Tsitsikamma in the south to Magoebaskloof in the north.
Canopy Tours South Africa recommend that kids should be aged 7 or over to enjoy the Canopy Experience. However, they do accept children as young as 4.
Launch from platform to platform high up in trees, whizzing along zip wires! You will be escorted throughout your tour by a lead guide and a safety guide at all times. They will make sure that all your gear is fastened safely and give you an interesting history on the area. Remember to pack your camera to get great snaps of the views and wildlife too!
The Cango Caves are not only one of the oldest tourist attractions in South Africa but also one of the best cave systems in the world. Choose from a heritage or adventure tour for your Cango experience.
Kids must be at least 6 years old to take part in the tours but their attention and imagination will captured immediately upon entering the first chamber. Natural phenomena such as stalactites, peculiar rock formations, towers stacks and bridges all combine to make the series of caves a breathtaking spectacle.
If you are feeling up to it, the Adventure tour takes you through a slightly more hair-raising route. Squeeze in and out of tunnels and shimmy through narrow passes.
Visit an Ostrich Farm!
Last but by no means least, is a trip to the Cango Ostrich Farm. This is a great place to take kids to learn and have plenty of fun whilst do so. A guided tour of the farm provides plenty of information and interesting facts about the birds.
Kids will delight in petting and feeding the animals as well as testing out the farm’s nifty science trick—did you know you can stand on an ostrich egg without it breaking?
It certainly seems to us that adventure is suitable for all ages in South Africa! Whether you’re 7 or 70, there’s all kinds of outdoor activities that transport you right to the heart of the home of safari.
—Written by Jessica Langlands