In May 2019, our travel consultant Richard went on safari in South Africa, including a visit to Cape Town, together with his six-year-old son. Read about their tour below and get Richard’s tips on travelling to South Africa with children.
I recently travelled alone with my son to South Africa.
If you are travelling to South Africa with children under the age of 18, you should be aware of the local legislation.
In my case, I had to bring a letter of attorney from my wife and my son’s birth certificate. Both documents must be in English.
If you do not have these documents with you, you will not be allowed to board the aircraft when you are leaving. So always check current South African legislation on travelling with children under the age of 18.
We arrived in South Africa in the evening, having travelled all day. We stayed at the Peermont Metcourt Hotel, a mere 10-minute drive from the airport. It was great to sleep in a proper bed, and the hotel is really nice. We were given a large room, and there was a full breakfast buffet.
The next morning, we were picked up and continued our journey on to Pestana Kruger Lodge – a five-hour drive with a short break at a petrol station, where you can buy lunch, drinks and snacks, which we brought with us to Pestana and ate in the room. Pestana also has a small shop almost right next to the pool where you can buy small snacks, ice creams, etc.
When we arrived, we were welcomed by the friendly staff at Pestana and Africa Safari’s tour coordinator.
Pestana enjoys the perfect location, right by Crocodile River (with a phenomenal view from the terrace) and Kruger National Park.
When we checked in, we were upgraded to a “Deluxe Room”, overlooking Crocodile River. I highly recommend this upgrade, if it’s an option, because the view is absolutely stunning – both during the day and especially at sunset.
The following days were spent on safari in Kruger National Park and on a trip to Chimp Eden.
We didn’t go to the Drakensberg Mountains during our stay at Pestana, as the drive would have been too much for my son. Instead, we opted for a full extra day’s safari.
Kruger National Park consists mainly of bushland, making it easy to spot the wild animals.
My son and I tried to count more than our guide, but we didn’t manage to beat him as he’s so good at spotting them.
I have previously been on safari in both Kenya and Tanzania, but Kruger surprised me in several ways.
Firstly, the bush and, secondly, the good roads in Kruger. Thirdly, there are lots of animals, so even though Kruger doesn’t have as high a concentration of wild animals as Masai Mara or Serengeti, the chances of spotting “the big 5” are every bit as good as at the other places. In our case, we saw four out of the five in the first three hours of our first safari! Fourth, Kruger is a great place for amateur photographers thanks to the varying landscapes found there, compared to the savannah of Mara or Serengeti.
The only animal we didn’t see was the leopard, but we did see cheetahs, which are a rarer sight in Kruger as there are only 120 of them left here. And it doesn’t matter all that much when you get to see two different baby rhinos in the space of two hours. It warmed my little heart!
After our fantastic stay at Pestana Kruger Lodge, we headed on to Cape Town,
where we stayed at Premier Cape Town (Cape Manor). I found this hotel to be extremely service-minded, and the food – breakfast, a la carte and room service – was all delicious.
In Cape Town, we had planned the following activities, which are suitable for families with children:
I would recommend that you consider your child/children when planning the day trips, and one of the most important things to remember is not to cram in too many activities.
Cape Town has a lot to offer, and it’s a good idea to plan ahead for the days there, so you can prepare your child for what to expect.
The half-day excursion to Cape Point takes you to Seal Island (boat trip), the Cape of Good Hope, Cape Point and Boulders Beach (penguins). The excursion offers plenty of variation (for children, too), not to mention stunning scenery.
For families who like a little more excitement, there are also plenty of adventures to be had in Cape Town to ensure that you take some fun memories back home with you.
My son and I tried ziplining in Hout Bay, and it was a wonderful experience for both of us, with amazing guides/instructors and seven different lines.
A trip to the top of Table Mountain is pretty much a must when in Cape Town. The ride up there in the cableway is fun for children, and the view is absolutely fantastic. I would recommend that families with children go up to Table Mountain in the morning, as there are a lot more people in the afternoon. It’s also a good idea to save the trip for a clear day. It’s not unheard of for Table Mountain to be cloaked in cloud for several days in a row. At the top of the mountain, you can enjoy a nice lunch. You’ll have no problem whiling away three hours on the mountain.
After Table Mountain, we went to the Two Oceans Aquarium, located right on the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront. The aquarium is not that big, but it’s beautiful and fun for children.
There’s lots to do on V&A: a Ferris wheel, a children’s playground, window shopping, dinner at one of the many excellent family restaurants, etc.
If you ask me, Cape Town is the perfect place to round off a safari.