Safari on the horizon…
With stunning beaches, rugged mountains and phenomenal cuisine, it is no wonder that Cape Town has become a must-visit destination. Step into the streets of Cape Town and you will find it brimming with energy and booming with a distinctive history and culture. But, what kids really think about when you say “Africa” is the animals. Good news: The Kruger Safari is only a few hours flight from Cape Town!
Navigating the vast and vibrant city of Cape Town and the journey onwards to Kruger National Park can be a handful, especially with kids in tow (they want to do everything or nothing at all!).
Getting to Cape Town:
All flights from Hong Kong International Airport to Cape Town International Airport include one stopover. The quickest flight to Cape Town International Airport is 17 hours (via Cathay Pacific) with the stopover at Johannesburg. We suggest renting a car for an easy way to get around the city.
Points to Keep in Mind:
#1 Cape Town is left-hand drive
#2 South Africa is 6 hrs behind Hong Kong (GMT + 2).
Whether you’re after family-friendly eateries and local sights, or finding that particular Big 5 animal, here’s a guide to get you started on your family-friendly Cape Town and Kruger Safari vacation, all laid out for parents by Avery from The Luxe Nomad.
Be right at the heart of it all, with the majestic Table Mountain looming overhead. Here, you’re never too far from the beach, the park, the hip restaurants and of course, the shopping.
1. Bandar Place is within reach of all the must-sees and dos of Cape Town. Whether you’re spending a lazy day in with the kids or seeing as much as you can, this modern 2-bedroom, 2-bathroom loft apartment is the perfect place to make memories.
2. With panoramic views of the city, The Studios will charm your socks off. Sporting minimalistic yet comfortable design, the 2-bedroom, 2-bathroom apartment is ideal for mid-sized families looking for a bird’s eye view to remember.
Also known as the Malay Quarter and meaning “above the Cape” in 1. Afrikaans, the brightly painted houses of Bo Kaap are filled with years of history and culture. Both parents and kids alike will delight in the dazzling colours and the equally vibrant cuisine from guided cooking tours to grabbing ‘koesisters’ (the Cape Malay’s version of a doughnut) from the Rose Corner Cafe.
2. Tucked into the heart of Woodstock is The Old Biscuit Mill, a place where talent and passion combine to bring a colourful selection of designer boutiques, delicious food and handmade products. Go on a Saturday to catch The Neighbourgoods Market for farm fresh produce and artisanal goods!
Kids will love:
1. The lush and plentiful grounds of The Company’s Garden are home to a number of different gardens – complete with a rose garden and a Japanese garden. Play and run in the beautiful gardens or, buy a pack of nuts from The Company’s Garden Restaurant and watch the park’s tame squirrels eat right out of your hands.
2. The Cape Town Science Centre is perfect for your curious little explorers. Home to an extensive exhibit of interactive science displays and puzzles to keep your little ones occupied for hours, the Science Centre puts the fun back into learning with a myriad of workshops, games and experiments.
Parents will love:
1. Home to the singing waiter, Stardust Theatrical Dining has an illustrious career of launching some of South Africa’s biggest vocal stars. Located in hip Woodstock, the stellar Mediterranean cuisine and the outstanding talents combine to bring you a good time. A quick tip: book your table in advance to avoid missing out.
2. By day, the Victorian-era buildings of Long Street stand out beautifully. It’s home to vintage dress shops, antique stores and second-hand bookshops. Once the sun sets, bars and clubs throw open their doors for a roaring good time.
1. A 13-minute drive away from the heart of Cape Town is the township of Langa and Mzansi Restaurant, serving authentic, home-cooked African cuisine. The staff here will ensure that you are entirely safe – right down to watching your car! The scrumptious meal is accompanied by African music, dancing and the owner recalling her story of growing up in Langa during the apartheid era.
2. Set against the background of the Table Mountain, Deer Park Cafe doesn’t exactly have deers. But, it does have a dedicated kids menu and ample grounds for running and playing, as it borders the public Rocklands Road Park. Parents can end their meal with a cup of coffee or glass of wine picnic-style in the park while their kids play.
Convenience is the word at the V & A waterfront. Close to the water, attractions, shops and restaurants, with a magnificent view of Table Mountain, you’re guaranteed to always have an answer to ‘What should we do next?’.
1. Although compact and ideal for small families, Aqua Views lives up to its name. Waking up to the glistening view of Table Bay and bobbing yachts at the 2-bedroom, 2-bathroom apartment is the best way to start your day.
2. Being only a short drive away from V & A Waterfront makes Pembroke 403 the ideal place for families, especially for short breaks and naps in between all the fun. The phenomenal Waterfront Marina view doesn’t hurt, either.
1. Home to more than 88 species including the galjoen, a fish native to the South African waters, Two Oceans Aquarium is both an education and rehabilitation centre, their efforts focused on educating the public about being kinder to wildlife and sustainability. Everyone will love the interactive touch pool and the magnificent glow-in-the-dark jellyfish exhibit.
2. Situated on the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront, The Cape Wheel offers stunning views of the Mother City from Table Mountain, Robben Island and more. Fully air conditioned, it is a great way to see the city, rain or shine. Try seeing if the kids can point out the places you’ve visited!
Kids will love:
1. The Rotary Blue Train Park is a multi-adventure kiddies park set against the backdrop of Table Mountain, filled with a range of outdoor activities. The iconic mini blue train will be a crowd favourite while the outdoor ice-rink will provide an experience to remember, especially with the stunning ocean view.
Parents will love:
1. While the Robben Island Museum might be heavy material for the young ones, history buffs will get a kick out of absorbing the rich and tumultuous history of the island. The tour around the prison is even conducted by a former prisoner so you hear stories first hand.
2. A true farmer’s market, Oranjezicht City Farm Market sells locally grown produce from fruits and vegetables to eggs and honey, providing support for small farmers with an emphasis on fresh and seasonal goods. Held every Saturday, parents will enjoy shopping the local produce, dining at the communal table and supporting the local economy.
1. Opt for a table out on the sandy stretch to feel like you’re dining right on the beach at the Grand Cafe & Beach. Serving up a variety of seafood, pizzas and even some sushi, Grand Cafe & Beach has a fun vibe, tinged with luxury. Kids will love digging their toes into the sand and parents will love their signature cocktails.
2. When you’re craving a good melt-in-your-mouth steak, The Hussar Grill is the place to go. The wide variety of grilled meats and seafood offer something for every member of the family.
Looking to stay further from the heart of the action? These relaxed areas hug the coast, with stunning views of Lion’s Head and Bantry Bay. Artisan Coffee shops sit alongside Woolworths and eclectic cafes give off a nice calm villiage vibe.
1. Stunning views of Bantry Bay will take your breath away at the Fairmont 1001, making you feel like you’ll never want to leave. Best part about it: it comes with a barbeque area so you can have your very own cookout with the fresh produce of Cape Town.
2. Luxury takes a front seat at The Garden House with award-winning gardens and a resident housekeeper to keep everything running smoothly. With 5-bedrooms, this villa can sleep up to ten guests and even more if your tiny tots are willing to share a bed!
1. Take in the scenic views of Cape Town in a different way while tucked into a refurbished sidecar with Cape Sidecar Adventures. Delight in the unique experience of taking to the roads, surrounded by the rhythmic roar of the bikes and the wind in your hair. They even provide complimentary bandanas for all riders!
2. You won’t be missing your Lion Rock hikes here… Get your blood pumping as you head up Lion’s Head. With ladders, ropes and chains to get up some of the more difficult areas, it is the perfect time to bond as a family whether you’re in competition or working together to get to the peak. Take the more kid-friendly route if you have young ones!
Kids will love:
1. With three beautiful outdoor swimming pools set against a view of the ocean, Seapoint Pavilion is an alternative in the cool weather. More than just a pool, Seapoint Pavilion is a piece of Cape Town’s history, having been around since the 1950s and the water is warmer than the ocean!
Parents will love:
1. Hold on for the ride of our life as you launch off the top of Signal Hill with Tandem Paragliding. Your inner thrill-seeker will thank you for this must-do experience as you soar through the skies of Cape Town.
1. Leaning more towards a bistro than restaurant? The cosy interior of La Boheme offers beautifully cooked meals and a great family friendly atmosphere.
2. Another family-friendly eatery is Strolla Restaurant & Bar, serving up seafood, poultry, meats and even pasta. It has a dedicated kids’ menu and a kids’ playroom complete with Wii console and Lego. We’re sold.
The spellbinding views of the Atlantic ocean, coupled with the ocean breeze, the city’s best beaches, and the backdrop of the mountains. The best of Cape Town’s relaxed beach vibe is reflected here.
1. With an expansive deck, a tropical beach vibe and panoramic views of the Atlantic ocean, Bungalow on 4th is your home away from home. Whether you’re looking for a serene and idyllic retreat or to just be closer to the beach, this 3-bedroom, 3-bathroom villa is the spot for making lasting memories.
2. Embodying its name, Serendipity inspires relaxed and unhurried days filled with fresh air and magnificent sunsets. This 5-bedroom, 5-bathroom villa can comfortably sleep up to 12 people and has ample space for the little ones to play. It even has its own pool so you can cool off in complete privacy.
1. Whether it’s your first time or you’re a Cape Town veteran, you should not skip out on Table Mountain. Start your journey to the top with a hike or take the scenic route via the Table Mountain Aerial Cableway for a gorgeous view of how the city and nature coexists.
2. Filled with a variety of upscale eateries and shops, Camps Bay Promenade is a good way to wind down after a busy day. Whether you’re doing some last minute shopping or waiting for the spectacular sunset, you will catch a glimpse of what it’s like to truly live here.
Kids will love:
1. The still and clear waters remind you of a swimming pool, but this one is bordered by rocks and kept filled by the waves. The Camps Bay Tidal Pool is known to be safe for children to splash around in as the water is calm. Parents can even soak at the edges of the pool with a drink in hand.
Parents will love:
2. A short drive away from the Camps Bay beach and along the road to Hout Bay lies the open-air market, Camps Bay African Craft Market. Here, you will find a variety of African souvenier to take home with you – from beaded jewellery and leather goods, and African masks.
1. With no menu in sight, the Codfather Seafood & Sushi might seem a strange establishment at first – but this contemporary eatery is worth checking out. The emphasis is on freshness and you enjoying your time.
2. If you’re craving some Italian food, Primi Piatti is the answer. Expect breads, pastas, pizzas, grilled meats, burgers, salads and more…
Atlantic ocean views, the Twelve Apostles rising in the background, and a relaxed beach vibe, it will take a bit longer to get to the city centre (25 mins) from here but you may just find it’s worth the trek.
1. Set on the slopes of the Twelve Apostles and overlooking Hout bay, the 2-bedroom, 2-bathroom Mountain Lodge can comfortably fit a small family. The wide wooden deck, surrounded by lush gardens, is perfect for catching some sun and relaxing after a long day. The open plan kitchen means you can enjoy Hout Bay’s local produce with fresh air and open views.
2. Exceptional mountain views, a spacious garden and a pool make Oakwood Lane a charming spot for large families looking for luxurious living. The minimalist decoration and open plan design ooze luxury and spaciousness – a welcome change from HK apartments!
1. A Cape Town trip would not be complete without paying a visit to the beautiful fishing village of Simon’s Town and the penguins at Boulder’s Beach. Observe the tuxedo-ed African penguins in their natural habitat from the boardwalk, or if you want a more up close and personal viewing, head along to Foxy Beach.
2. If your kids are up for the drive, make your way down, what is considered the most scenic road in the Cape Peninsula. With the rocky mountain on one side, the sparkling ocean on the other and the ocean breeze filling your lungs, Chapman’s Peak Drive is the epitome of cruising. Don’t forget to pack a picnic basket for lunch!
Kids will love:
1. Get up close and personal with nearly 400 species of birds at the World of Birds Wildlife Sanctuary. Then, move on to the Monkey Park where the tame, free roaming monkeys will take the opportunity to jump all over you, guaranteed to get laughs and smiles out of your kids.
Parents will love:
1. Instead of making the long drive to Stellenbosch or Franschhoek for wine, just 10 minutes away from Hout Bay is the Constantia Winelands with a rich winemaking history. There are 10 vineyards along the Constantia route, so prepare ahead with a designated driver!
2. Pay a visit to the Bay Harbour Craft Market Saturdays and Sundays for the finest selection of arts, crafts, food and fashion. Or if you’re feeling adventurous, the market kicks off on Friday night with live music and generous food traders serving everything from seafood platters, gourmet sandwiches, oven-fired pizza and more.
1. With a blend of Mediterranean and Greek flavours and a laid-back atmosphere, Spiro’s will delight you at every turn. They have both indoor and courtyard seats and a kid’s play area and costumes for the young ones.
2. Channel your inner creative as you grab a light lunch and paint your very own pottery creations at the Clay Cafe for a memorable keepsake. Feast on a variety of pastas, burgers, sandwiches and more. There is also a play area and trampolines for the kids. Remember to factor in a few days for your creation to be glazed and fired!
Depending on where you’re staying in Kruger National Park, fly from Cape Town via South African Airlines to either:
- Hoedspruit, which will take you approximately 2 hours and 45 minutes
- Nelspruit, which will take you approximately 2 hours and 25 minutes
From the airport, you can:
- Rent a car or 4 x 4 for a breathtaking self- introduction to the safari
- Arrange a small private plane, called a Lodge Hop, to take you to your lodge’s airstrip or the airstrip nearest to your lodge.
If you’re staying at a private luxury lodge, most of them will send a 4×4 vehicle to pick you up at the airstrip.
#1 Kruger park has low malaria risk, but we still do recommend you visit your GP for anti-malaria pills.
# 2 It’s a common misconception that kids aren’t allowed on safari, but while most lodges do allow, some are adults-only, so check in advance. For game drives we recommend kids aged 6 and above, but if you have younger ones, childminders can be arranged.
1. Set above the N’Wanetsi River and illuminated by natural light filtering in through the windows, the modern and contemporary Singita Lebombo Lodge has 13-suites and one villa for a completely luxurious safari adventure. The lodge is more suitable for older kids (10 and above).
2. Tucked into the banks of the Sweni river, the Singita Sweni Lodge brings you a front row seat to up-close and unexpected sightings of the animals that drink or wallow in the river. With 6 private suites and interiors decorated to resemble your natural surroundings, tranquility is only a step away.
2. Located adjacent to the Kruger National Park, the Thornybush Game Lodge offers unparalleled views of the open plains, perfect for surprise animal sightings. With 18 suites and 2 family suites, it is the retreat to complete your safari holiday.
Tip: Most luxury lodges are all-inclusive, meaning your stay includes: return road transfers from your lodge to the airstrip, all meals and beverages (including premium wines, spirits and liqueurs, but excluding French Champagne), 2 daily safari drives as well as walking and biking safaris (accompanied by experienced guides and trackers).
1. Get up close and personal with the African safari on a game drive (twice a day!) complete with an expert guide and tracker in a luxury Land Rover to introduce your children to the wildlife that makes Africa so magical. Be prepared for some crankiness as the morning drive requires an early jump start to the day. But once the littles spot an elephant or better yet, all of the Big Five, it’ll be more than worth it. The excitement repeats with the evening drive to spot the nocturnal animals.
2. If you prefer to see the African plains on foot, guided safari walks can also be scheduled with an expert guide and tracker. Look out for the animal tracks and do some tracking of your own as you explore the undisturbed nature. It is advised that only children aged 15 and above participate in the guided safari walks but your guide might make an exception for younger ones (if they are especially well behaved and brave!).
3. Minimal pollution and no city lights means that the heavenly stars are crystal clear, making stargazing a beautiful way to end your day. Star gaze from your lodge and turn it into a fun and educational activity by pointing out the constellations to your children and telling them the stories (made up or not) behind their names.
Parents will love:
What is a vacation without a visit to the spa? Accept a moment of peace and rejuvenation, surrounded by the vast beauty of the safari. Luxury lodges have their own in-house spas with their own signature treatments so opt for a truly African spa for an authentic relaxation experience.
Featured image via Pexels, all other photos from The Luxe Nomad