10 Awesome Reasons to Visit South Africa with Kids
South Africa is one of our absolute favourite destinations in the world and we cannot recommend highly enough a holiday to South Africa with kids. We know that some people may have reservations about travelling to South Africa with kids, but having visited South Africa five times, we have only ever had positive experiences.
Of course, as with travelling anywhere, especially with kids, there are things that you need to be vigilant about, and the same goes for travelling in South Africa. Always check on the government advisory site for anything you need to know before travelling. You may also want to read about some general safety awareness in South Africa.
10 Awesome Reasons to Visit South Africa with Kids
If you’re interested in the idea of visiting South Africa with kids but are not quite ready to book, here are some reasons to help convince you that South Africa is an awesome place for a family holiday.
1. There is no jetlag
Flights to South Africa from the UK are around 12 hours and we find it’s best to take the overnight flight so that the kids can sleep most of the way. The time difference between UK and South Africa is usually 2 hours, which means no jetlag.
The importance of this should not be underestimated. We took the kids to Florida when they were very small and spent the first 4 days of that trip horribly jetlagged and then again on the return to the UK. It made days out difficult when we had two small, tired and grumpy children and two sleep deprived parents.
2. South Africa has a huge range of family-friendly things to do
South Africa is predominantly an outdoor country, meaning the main sights and activities are outdoors. This is fine with us because the weather is usually fantastic (if you travel at the right time of year).
The highlights of South Africa would be visiting the beaches, hiking and wildlife spotting. There are so many family-friendly animal encounters in South Africa, it’s impossible to list them all but some of our favourites (asides from taking a safari – see no.3) are:
- Visiting the penguins on Boulders Beach
- Two Oceans Aquarium in Cape Town
- Visiting an ostrich farm in Oudtshoorn
- Visiting the cheetah outreach center
Read here for more family-friendly things to do in South Africa.
3. South Africa has great malaria-free safari options
Going on safari with kids is perhaps one of the things we love best about South Africa. The Western and Eastern Capes are malaria free so if you are planning on seeing wildlife, you won’t need to take anti-malarials which are essential in other game viewing parts of Africa. There are plenty of places to see the Big-5 to suit all budgets. We have some great recommendations on family-friendly safaris in South Africa.
If you are wanting to do a safari in the Kruger National Park (which we highly recommend as a way to do a budget-friendly safari), we also have some great recommendations for family-friendly Kruger National Park accommodation.
4. South Africa is a budget friendly destination
Whilst you’d be lucky to find incredibly cheap flights to South Africa (we usually fly there using one of our cheap flight travel hacks), the exchange rate makes everything so reasonable once you’re there. You can eat out in world class restaurants for the price of a very average meal in the UK and stay in high quality accommodation. We book most of our accommodation on Booking.com
5. South Africa is a great winter escape
If you’re looking for an escape from the long, cold British winter, South Africa is a great choice. The best time to visit South Africa is between November and March if you’re heading to Cape Town and the Western Cape. The weather in these areas is usually mid 20’s to low 30’s.
If you’re heading to Johannesburg and the Kruger, you’ll find pretty good weather all year round. Even during the rainy season there will be a heavy rainfall followed by sunshine and it remains warm throught. Durban is actually the sunniest part of south Africa with over 300 days of sunshine a year.
Just make sure to pack your suncream in your travel first aid kit because the African sun can be harsh.
6. The South African topography is so diverse
With so much diversity with the South African flora and fauna, there’s bound to be something you’ll like.
There are wetlands with abundant birdlife for birdwatchers on the west coast. We stayed in a beautiful little house just on the edge of a wetland and could watch kingfishers and flamingos fishing for their dinner whilst we ate ours.
The incredible scenery of the Drakensberg cannot be missed. Make sure to visit the Blyde River Canyon, Three Rondavels and God’s Window for amazing views.
The Karoo is a semi-desert and a stark contrast to the lush landscape found over the other side of the Outeniqua Mountains on the Indian Ocean coast. It’s home to the thriving tourist town of Oudtshoorn where you’ll find ostrich and crocodile farms as well as the highly impressive Cango Caves.
The Cape Winelands are something else with the soaring peaks of the Simonsberg mountains (amongst others) overlooking the rows of vines that produce some of the best wine in the world.
And of course, you can’t go to South Africa without checking out the stunning beaches. See no.7 below…
7. South Africa has some of the best beaches in the world
Whether you’re visiting the beautiful white sandy beaches of Cape Town or the warmer, tropical waters of the Indian Ocean up near Durban, the South African beaches will not fail to impress.
Cape Town has some of the best urban beaches in the world. The only thing to note is that the water here is cold as it is the Atlantic Ocean. You can find warmer water in Cape Town if you head to Muizenberg Beach (which is also where you’ll find the popular colourful beach huts).
The beaches along the Garden Route are where the surfers hang out, in particular Jeffreys Bay and when you get a little further up into the Eastern Cape, you’ll find wild and windswept beaches with huge expanses of sand and not a soul in sight.
8. South Africa has some of the best food and wine in the world
The food in South Africa is some of the best we have had on our travels. Cape Town in particular is a foodie heaven. The quality is amazing, from the freshest seafood to tastiest meat. They pride themselves in doing the perfect ‘Braii’ (BBQ) where you must try a Boerewors (South African sausage).
They also have interesting options if you are feeling a little adventurous, like ostrich or crocodile. We highly recommend Kudu as an alternative to beef.
One of our favourite things to do in South Africa is to go wine tasting with the kids. Believe it or not, it is a really family-friendly activity as they have lots of things to do for kids. The wine estates also some of the best scenery around for a picnic. The roads of Stellenbosch are lined with purple Jacaranda trees with soaring green peaks of the Stellenbosch mountains reaching high into the azure blue skies. It is just picture prefect.
South African wine is among the best in the world and if you enjoy your wine, you should defintely include a tour of the winelands in your itinerary. Remember too that eating out is very budget-friendly due to the favourable exchange rate.
9. The South African people are friendly and welcoming
The people of South Africa are warm and welcoming, especially with children. It is such an interesting country with so many tribes and cultures. Desmond Tutu, a well-known South African human rights activist once described South Africa saying, “We of many cultures, languages, and races become one nation. We are the Rainbow People of God.”
With so many different cultures mixing, there are inevitably going to be troubles, but being alert to these situations is the best way to avoid them. By sticking to the main tourist areas and not going too far off the beaten track (or wandering around the large cities at night), we have never seen any issues.
10. There are no communication issues
English is widely spoken so there are no communication issues and it’s very westernised. There will be shops and restaurants you recognise, but also some you won’t, and those are always worth trying.
Travelling with kids in a predominantly English speaking country will make life just that little bit easier which is really important if you haven’t done a great deal of international family travel.
We hope you will love South Africa as much as we do. If you have any questions about visiting South Africa with kids, please don’t hesitate to drop us an email or comment below and we will get back to you.