Directors Nikki and Aidan have travelled to South Africa in February for many years, escaping like swallows from the British winter. Travelling with their daughter, Poppy, they’ve seen some wonderful new properties appear and others evolve to give some amazing experiences for families. Here are their top tips for travelling around South Africa with a family.
This year we visited the winelands, went on a safari in Madikwe, and relaxed in a fab pad on Cape Town’s Clifton Beach. Our most important tip, before you even set off, is to make sure you take your child/ren’s full birth certificate to the airport with you. South Africa is extremely strict on this and they operate a no docs / no fly policy.
We love the freedom of driving, so we always hire a car. If arriving on the morning flight from UK to Cape Town, split into 2 parties once you’re through Passport Control – 1 party can collect the luggage while the other heads to the car-hire office to get to the front of the queue. And before leaving the airport, we always stop by the airport book stall toget the latest Platter’s Wine Guide so we can learn what the latest ratings are. There is so much fantastic wine to sample in South Africa.
Our first stop this year was Boschendal Farm Cottages. This historic wine estate is less than an hour’s drive from Cape Town airport, but it sits in the heart of the winelands so it makes a great base for exploring the area. The beautiful dappled oak-tree avenues and lawns are perfect for picnics and for kids to run around on.
If you order ahead, they’ll make up a hamper for your first lunch, which is an easy (and delicious) way to take the hassle out of arrival. At the farmstead they have a deli for stocking up on supplies for other meals and a couple of restaurants. Flexi-Catering’s the name of the game here, which is super-convenient for families: each cottage has a kitchen so you can DIY, or have breakfast, lunch and dinner baskets or BBQ packs brought to your door. You can also eat out on the estate, choosing from casual wood-fired pizzas in the Deli Café or more formal dining at the Werf Restaurant.
On the property there are shared pools, pony rides, and hiking and biking trails, which will keep young and older kids out of mischief.
For the safari leg of our trip, we took an internal flight to Johannesburg then broke up the journey with a night at the The Peech, a stylish boutique stopover in a leafy suburb that has interconnecting rooms for families. The next morning we took a transfer to Madikwe Game Reserve, which has wonderful wildlife viewing but is malaria free – a huge plus for families. You can take an internal flight there (1 hour), but travelling by road only takes 3.5 hours and you don’t risk your flight being cancelled. Justdon’t try to drive it yourselves: we met other families who had got lost en route (Sat Navs don’t work for last hour). You don’t want to be alone in the reserve with night falling; close encounters with giant elephants aren’t recommended.
We stayed at the 12-suite Madikwe Safari Lodge. Beautifully designed and immaculately run, the huge rooms each have a private plunge pool. There are family suites with bunk beds and they lay on loads of activities each day for children; unusually for a safari lodge they’ll take 2+ year olds out on drives.
After our safari adventure, we headed to Cape Town and the ultra-cool Clifton Beach Villa. This 3-bedroom pad is only a few steps from Cape Town’s loveliest beach and a 15-minute drive from the city centre and V&A Waterfront.
Youngsters will love being right on the sandy beach and splashing in the heated pool, while indoors they’ll relish the space. Our daughter thought she’d found heaven in the entertainment room, with its slouchy beanbags, large daybeds (which can be made up as 3 extra beds), music system, Apple TV and underwater windows into the pool. It’s enough to make even the moodiest teenager smile!