The pinnacle of cultural and natural experience can be found when venturing out to South Africa for a family holiday adventure. Representing a wonderful introduction for children and teenagers to the African continent, inviting cosmopolitan cities, accessible road networks and swift public transport allows for safe, straightforward travel through majestic landscapes and activity rich locations.
When taking children over the age of six, a safari holiday with game drives will likely be top of the itinerary. Well-equipped lodges welcome children with a range of child-friendly facilities, often including dedicated bush school programmes with experienced guides showing them the vast range of flora and fauna in a fun and friendly environment. Older children will relish the chance to camp out under the stars, where a 24/7 stay within the stripped back natural environment can often be the best way to introduce them to bush life without the need to go back indoors after game drives.
Read further to discover our pick of the best locations to take children on safari or city based holiday in South Africa, ensuring you arrive back with an abundance of excitable tales of this unique nation.
A decidedly family-friendly city at its heart, Cape Town’s coastal locale provides plenty to do for the entire family, making for a perfect twin-centre trip when combined with a safari adventure, or even as a city getaway due to the sheer amount of activities available.
Peek out of your hotel window at the majestic cityscape dominated by the famous Table Mountain, purveying a melting pot of cultures and enticing excursions. This includes visits to children and toddler friendly shores such as Camps Bay’s scenic palm-tree fringed setting complete with beachfront dining, before getting up close and personal with exotic marine life at the Two Oceans Aquarium, where kids can witness African penguins and popular shark feedings.
Providing a prime example of South Africa’s endlessly diverse terrain, the golden sands permeating the Eastern Cape coastline contrast with snow-peaked mountains and desert pockets as part of an endlessly intriguing destination.
This is where you will find many of the best family-friendly safaris and private game lodges suitable for small children, with a wide range of choice when it comes to types of safari experience, accommodation, and expense. Outside of the safari experience, visit the largest city on the Sunshine Coast in Port Elizabeth, where you will find great beachside lodgings and connecting routes to all major South African city hubs.
The temperate winter months of May through July outside of the hot and humid summer period is arguably the best time to visit KwaZulu-Natal.
A raft of child-friendly accommodations including family hotels, guest houses, holiday apartments and holiday homes provides a domesticated base from which to explore a region containing a wealth of fun-filled traditional excursions for children. Visit Flag Farm Animal Farm just outside the city of Durban, where children can learn about South African farming first hand as they feed chickens and learn to milk a cow, while uShaka Marine World and an assortment of game reserves make-up a multi-faceted region.
The home of Johannesburg as the largest city in South Africa and a common first-entry point to the nation for travellers with the city's newly revamped airport, Gauteng contains a wealth of fascinating excursions alluding to the nation’s long-held historical significance.
Older children and teens can observe exhibits detailing the story of apartheid at the Apartheid Museum, where first-hand experience of segregation is poignantly outlined in the entry classification system to the museum. Further points of interest include the UNESCO-listed Cradle of Humankind site, where fossils dating back to the dawn of civilisation have been found among thousands of fossils.
Limpopo and Mpumalanga
Visiting Limpopo and Mpumalanga often entails a glimpse of its primary attraction, Kruger National Park. This expansive game reserve is one of the biggest in Africa, and is home to the much lauded Big Five, with families having the rare opportunity to witness lions, elephants, cape buffalos, giraffes, black rhinos, cheetahs, and zebras, all within a natural habitat spanning an impressive 7,000 square acres.
Full-service family lodges are available adjacent to the park, with a choice of either guided safari drives or self-drive excursions depending on ages of children, and select lodges offering mini on-site safari treks near the lodge area.