South Africa is an extremely family and kid friendly destination!
Cost summary for 34 days in South Africa for a family of 4 including all airfare, car rental, transportation, accommodations, excursions, food, groceries and everything down to a stick of gum:
Total cost for 34 days: $5,221.40
Daily average: $153.57
Transport (including 34-day rental car): $904.71
Insiders Quick tip: Ditch the Lonely Planet Guide Book and pick up a free Alternative Route backpackers accommodations guide book from any hostel. They are everywhere. Call for accommodations from the book and reserve with your name. You do not need to leave a credit card and this will allow you to change accommodations without having to pay a cancellation fee if you book online!
There are plenty of family accommodations options (see the quick tip above), well-stocked shops, the sunshine, safe beaches, high hygiene standards, wild animals, babysitters, and burgers on tap.
Hotels and guest lodges usually provide discounts for children under 12, and children under age 2 sharing with parents are usually allowed to stay for free. Ages and discounts vary considerably, however, so it’s best to check beforehand.
South Africa also has a large number of excellent self-catering cottages.
Bear in mind that many operators in private game reserves are loathed to accept children under 12 (although Schotia Safari does). Because prophylactics are not recommended for those under 5, choose a malaria-free area (i.e not Kruger Park), or visit during a dry winter.
If you want to have a good time traveling with kids make sure to rent a car.
Family Gap Year Trip to South Africa (Aug 10 – Sept 11) 31 days
I would start out by purchasing well-priced tickets on the city tour bus which will take you everywhere you need to go. Buy a two-day ticket to get all the benefits. Visit the V&A Waterfront, Table Mountain.
Cape Town Penthouse
Where we stayed: Airbnb Prime 3 Storey Cape Town Penthouse. Stay at the VA Waterfront if you can. We stayed at this downtown Airbnb and it was nice, with spectacular views, but we would have preferred to be a bit closer to the action.
We spent a spectacular 3 hours here and then headed out to Cape Point.
3. Hermanus – Whales and Shark Diving
Where we stayed: Hermanus Esplanade which was a good deal. At $55 US per night, we were given an entire fisherman’s cottage for our family.
From Cape Town, you travel along the coast of flowers to Hermanus.
Hermanus is well-known for its whale watching in Whale Season (July – November). Out of Whale Season is Hermanus a nice coastal place to visit and for the adventurous, once you can dive with the Great White Sharks.
Where we stayed: Karoo Soul Backpackers and Cottages– We stayed in the family “cottage” for US$60 per night. Nice and close to town, with a full kitchen and private bathroom. This was a bit more than we wanted to spend for 3 nights but definitely comfortable and the staff was super friendly. On the plus side, we received discounts to activities probably worth about $20 on the first day alone.
We decided to stay in Wilderness because of its location.
6. Knysna (Township Tours and Home Stays)
Some people recommend staying in Knysna, and this may be a reasonable option as well. We made it a day trip from our hostel in Wilderness. Knysna is a tourist hub and there is a lot of shopping and small places to eat. There is also a ferry ride that we only read about.
For us, it was all about the township tour with Emzini Tours.
7. Plettenberg Bay
Swallows Nest B&B – Plettenberg Bay
Where we stayed: Swallow’s Nest: We ended up at a B&B ran by a Dutch couple and their son. We talked them down to 700 rand a night for a really nice 2 bedroom cottage overlooking the entire bay. They had a good internet connection a small pool (that was too cold for the kids, unfortunately) and the best part…. The most amazing breakfast I have ever had.
Honestly, I would probably recommend the beach-side backpackers just because their location is a bit better and it is probably a bit more budget friendly for families but this breakfast was so good I may actually consider going back someday for that alone.
Plettenberg Bay is a perfect stop for families. It has nice family beaches, a quaint downtown, reasonably priced accommodations (on the off season at least) and great activities for adults and kids alike.
Tenikwa and the wild cat experience: Spend time with Cheetahs
Drive to one of the most popular places in the Wild Coast called Coffee Bay.
You drive through a scenic area with very little development and building. This area is the former Transkei, which was the area where the Xhosa’s lived.
As it is quite a drive to get to Coffee Bay you will have one more day to explore the area. At your hotel, you can book a day excursion to the natural site, The Hole in the Wall or a cultural tour which will learn you about the life and culture from this area. Overnight in Coffee Bay.
St. Lucia was formed about 60 to 100 million years ago when the Indian Ocean withdrew from the sandy coastal regions of KwaZulu Natal.
The greater St.Lucia Wetlands is one of the world’s great eco-tourism destinations. The Convention on Wetlands of International Importance has listed St.Lucia as having international conservation value. The region also satisfies the criteria for listing as a UNESCO World Heritage area.
The main attractions here are the Hippo, a safari through the St. Lucia Wetlands and as a jumping point for Hluhluwe-iMolozi Park