Our South African Family Safari

Editor’s note:  Jennie, one half of the dynamic duo over at RedBoxGifts.com.sg, took her boys on an unforgettable South African family safari tour in the summer of 2014.  She shares with special memories of the special family vacation.

South Africa has been on our to do list for some time and with our boys now aged 8 & 10, this summer vacation (2014) seemed like the perfect time to go.

 Our Trip Highlights

table mountain

  • Exploring the beautiful city of Cape Town, especially the Cape of Good Hope, Table Mountain and the penguins at Boulders Beach!
  • The guided bug walks, safari tours, horseback riding and the white rhinos at Ant’s Nest.
  • Seeing the Big Five in their natural setting at the Madikwe Game Reserve

Our trip started with direct Singapore Airlines flights from Changi to Johannesburg. You have to stay on the aircraft for 1 hour in Johannesburg while it is serviced and then onto Cape Town, a short 2 hour flight.

First Stop: Capetown

On arrival in Capetown we breezed through the airport to be collected by our transfer driver and taken to the One & Only at the Victoria & Alfred (V&A) Waterfront. The V&A is a great place to stay especially with kids as there are a number of restaurants, shops and activities on your door-step. The One & Only did not disappoint.

one and only cape town with kids

We choose a one bedroom island suite which had loads of room for the family with two beds set up in the living room for the children and doors to close off the master. The kids club at the One & Only was conveniently located near the reception so we could drop the kids off and enjoy an nice coffee or afternoon drink. The kids club offered onsite activities craft, wii, computers and offsite activities including visits to the aquarium and scratch patch too.

 Day 1-3: Cape Town – Cape Grace

There are many Family activities in Cape Town, but my top picks include:

  • Two Oceans Aquarium – see the sea life of South Africa’s two oceans (one of five in the world) at The V&A Waterfront
  • Tomb Raider – thousands of semi precious stones to play with and take home at Scratch Patch at The V&A Waterfront.
  • Cave Golf – at the Scratch Patch at The V&A Waterfront
  • Penguins – drive down to Cape Point and stop along the way at Simon’s Town to view a colony of African penguins at Boulders Beach
  • Seal Island – take a boat trip to Hout Bay’s Duiker (Seal) Island – a seal and bird sanctuary where kids can watch the seals
  • Garden of Eden – visit the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens on the back slopes of Table Mountain, voted one of the top 7 in the world

Day 2 – Table Mountain and Cape Town

The day started with our guide greeting us at our hotel reception. As the weather is very changeable in Cape Town at this time of the year (winter), we took advantage of the clear skies and headed straight for Table Mountain (which we had been looking at directly from our breakfast table!)  The trip up in the cable car offered amazing views of the peninsula and with our tickets we received two fact finding booklets for the kids which kept them busy, and learning, on the top of the mountain.

Next we went to the Houses of Parliament, the Castle (built between 1666 and 1679, South Africa’s oldest building), the lively Greenmarket Square with its daily market, the Company Gardens, and Bo-Kaap – home to the Cape Malay community, with its cobbled streets and brightly coloured houses and the Museum.

cape town

Our guide was superb. As he also had young children he kept the information age appropriate and interesting for our kids. The boys loved the hearing the history, seeing the weapons! No surprises there.

Day 3 – Full Day Cape Peninsula Tour

Such amazing scenery!  Traveling at our own pace we headed towards the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve along one of South Africa’s most scenic routes, passing Hout Bay, stopping to enjoy a cruise to Seal Island, to view seals and sea birds at Duiker Island. We continued to Cape point where we stopped to admire the amazing scenery and take photos at the southern most point of Africa.

cape of good hope

We passed Baboons and Ostriches’ literally outside our window and headed up to the car park to for a delicious lunch as Two Oceans Restaurant. After lunch we walked (or in my youngest sons case a run) up the light house (which is the most powerful in the world beaming an incredibly electric light of 19 million candle power across the ocean).

cape peninsula

On our way back, we stopped at the penguin colony at Boulders Beach.

The First Safari:  Limpopo

We spent Day 4-7 at Limpopo – Ant’s Nest.

After a flight to Johanesburg we were greeted at the airport by our guide for our 3-4 hour transfer to Ant’s Nest. This was a bit of a drive especially for us folk used to Singapore and the last part was very bumpy. But it was worth the trip.  Situated in the central Limpopo province, the malaria free Waterberg Biosphere is a scenic and wildlife rich area. Ant’s Nest is set on an area of extensive lawns with indigenous plants and a large heated pool, trampoline all overlooking an area which is frequented by a variety of game. We stayed in the main house and our room had an adjoining twin bedroom, large sitting, dining, living room and verandah. This was perfect as after the boys were asleep we sat and enjoyed wine by the huge open fireplace.

Ant’s Nest was special as we were able to view game from open safari vehicles, on guided bush walks or on guided horseback safaris.  They had horses of all levels and took our children in the arena to teach them how to ride before heading out on the Safaris.

horse back safari ants nest

Oh yes, and the white rhinos.  Seeing the white rhinos in close range was incredible.

white rhino

We were also treated to a special treat of sundowners at the owners lodge were we had the most amazing view and interaction with the protected white rhinos.

Final Stop:  Madikwe Game Reserve

The final leg of our journey was spent at Madikwe Game Reserve.  We spent Day 7 – 10 at this beautiful reserve.

The drive from Ant’s Nest to Madikwe took much longer than the recommended 3 hours and if we were to do it again we would prefer to fly, or even travel back to Johannesburg and take the light aircraft to Madikwe Game Reserve .

Madkiwe is situated in the malaria free North West Province, bordering Botswana.  This “Big Five” Reserve spans 75,000 hectares, making it one of the largest game reserves in South Africa. We saw several of the “Big Five” on our drive to the Madikwe Safari Lodge Lelapa.

At Lodge Lelapa, each suite features a lounge area with fireplace and a bedroom leading out to a private deck with your very own plunge pool. As we booked a little late we were not able to book one of the rooms with the separate bunk beds for the kids (which I would recommend you request for). Instead the boys slept on the fold out sofa bed.

While in Madikwe, we did morning and afternoon game drives and, for the adults, bush walks. Our ranger was amazing with the children and really kept them captivated on the 3-4 hour drives; they even stopped in a safe location to select a track and make a model of it with plaster.

As for the scenery and animals I don’t think I can adequately describe it in words, it was truly amazing. I think our photos tell the story…..

safari south africa

According to our children this has been the best holiday yet. We had the most amazing time and the whole family enjoyed it.mum and kid on safari

Our tour was organised by Light Foot Travel.  We loved our South African Family Safari trip and would recommend their services heartily!


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3 Comments on “Our South African Family Safari

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