SOUTH AFRICA FAMILY ADVENTURE
South Africa is about more than just safaris; it’s about the view of an elephant’s tough skin within arm’s reach at Kapama Game Camp; your children’s soccer game with their pen pals; the inspiring legacy of Nelson Mandela at Robben Island; and a view from the top of Table Mountain so dramatic, you’ll think a painter arranged it. From the metropolitan city of Cape Town to the wild game reserves, it’s a bright, colorful and bustling place.
DAY 1 CAPE TOWN
Welcome to South Africa! Today you arrive in Cape Town, a port city on the country’s southwestern coast. You might notice the giant mountain looming above you. That’s Table Mountain, the iconic backdrop visible from anywhere in the city.
After checking into your hotel, feel free to explore the V&A Waterfront. Your kids will love the spectacle of the street theater, musical performances and dance shows. The marketplace has over 100 merchants, 80 eateries and lots of artisan craftsmen, making it a fantastic place to get a souvenir. If you’d rather rest in the hotel, you’re more than welcome: you’ll get to visit the Waterfront another day.
DAY 2 CAPE TOWN
The Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens sits on Table Mountain’s eastern slope and is home to more than 7,000 plant species in a series of dazzling gardens. During your visit, discover waterfalls, natural pools and endangered species that find safe haven in this UNESCO World Heritage Site. Then visit Matthews Rockery, an intricate maze of small pathways with weird and wonderful plants.
Later, hop aboard a cable car and ascend from sea level to the top of Table Mountain. It’s all about the view – 3,558 feet above Cape Town, you’ll see the Cape Peninsula, the beaches, the city and the suburbs all stretch beyond the horizon in unthinkable scope. Eagles and kestrels soar overhead. Grab dinner at a local restaurant before heading back to your hotel for the night.
DAY 3 CAPE TOWN
Robben Island: once a food pantry, then hospital, whaling station, leper colony, mental asylum and infamous maximum-security prison. Nelson Mandela was imprisoned here for 18 years before becoming South Africa’s first president. Now, it’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a living monument to the triumph of the human spirit. Your Robben Island guide was likely an ex-political prisoner on the island. They’ll offer firsthand accounts of daily life in the prison and gladly welcome your questions. Explore the various stone buildings and learn why Nelson Mandela described it as “the harshest, most iron-fisted outpost in the South African penal system.”
You’ll eat a traditional African lunch at Mzansi Restaurant in Langa township. Dinner tonight is on your own. Ask your guide about the many food options nearby.
DAY 4 CAPE TOWN
Want some epic ocean views? A skilled driver will navigate the 114 twists and turns of Chapman’s Peak Drive, a winding coastal road flanked by mountains on one side and two converging oceans on the other: the Atlantic and Indian Oceans. You’ll reach the Southwestern Tip of Africa, where rugged rocks and sheer cliffs tower 800 feet above the sea and cut deep into the ocean. As you hike this wild and windswept natural reserve, keep your camera ready for the eland, bontebok, baboons, zebras and 250 species of birds that hang out here. Along the coast of False Bay, watch for seals, dolphins and whales out in the water.
Later, you’ll meet the penguins of Boulders Beach, home to one of the world’s few land-based penguin colonies. These speedy swimmers have a unique braying call and make their nest in sand burrows and beneath shrubs, something almost no other penguin colony does.
DAY 5 Cape Town
Today, you’ll visit Two Oceans Aquarium, home to more than 3,000 marine creatures. Explore galleries that include predator fish, ragged-tooth sharks, stingrays, a colony of rockhopper penguins, underwater kelp forests and thousands of glittering silver fishes. Because the Atlantic and Indian Oceans converge off the coast of South Africa, these waters have a microclimate perfect for a mindboggling variety of life to thrive.
Later, you’ll get to taste wines among Cape Town’s rolling green hills. The kids will do their own juice tasting while you’re at it! Then hop aboard an all-terrain Segway to explore the rugged winelands. Dinner tonight is a South African-inspired meal at the Zandberg Estate, home of the first and only White Merlot in South Africa.
Day 6 Whale Coast
If you didn’t have a chance to explore the V&A Waterfront yet, now you can. Enjoy the merchants, performances and artisan crafts in the area and grab a souvenir. Then enjoy a ride to Grootbos Private Nature Reserve in the heart of the fynbos, a biome defined by its small belt of natural shrubland. You’ll journey through the landscape on a flower safari. The fynbos is home to over 9,000 species of flowers, 70% of which exist only here.
Later in the day, scale the rocks of Klipgat Cave, where the waves crash against the crags and launch ocean mist skyward. The cave is famous for its window-shaped hole that provides magnificent views of the bay. For an ancient group known as the Khoikhoi, its fresh spring water and easy access to fishing spots were much more attractive. Archaeologists have found 2,000-year-old pottery, tools and bones in the cave – it’s a natural wonder as well as a historic one. Finish the day with a fresh, organic dinner at Grootbos. All ingredients come from the farms and gardens of the Grootbos Futures development program, and fish are caught in nearby Walker Bay.
Day 7 Whale Coast
You’ve seen a lot of ocean in South Africa from afar – it’s time to explore it. Cruise Walker Bay on a small boat for an exciting, in-your-face search for the Marine Big Five: Southern Right Whales, Bottlenose Dolphins, African Penguins, Fur Seals and the Great White Shark. For the brave: settle into a safe, secure cage and go shark cage diving! A part of the cage is always out of the water, so the boat is never far out of reach. You also have other options today: go horseback riding through the fynbos of Grootbos or take a cooking lesson with the Executive Chef or Sous Chef of Grootbos.
Later, the kids will meet the pen pals they’ve been writing letters to and lace up for a friendly game of soccer! Dinner tonight is a Boma Braai barbecue with the pen pals and families. Taste several kinds of meat, including sausage, lamb chops, steak, chicken, fish, crayfish and plenty of pap (porridge) and vegetables.
Day 8 Kapama Private Game Reserve
South Africa is one of the most fantastic safari destinations on the planet: you’ll know this when you’re in an open-air jeep, arm’s length from an elephant. Today, your safari through the Kapama Game Reserve will get you up close and personal with the wildlife as you search for the Big Five: lions, elephants, leopards, cape buffalo and rhinos. The open-air jeep disguises the human shape, making it safe and easy to track and approach animals. Later, hop out of the vehicle for a sundowner (beer, wine or soda) and freely trek the earth to discover termite towers, boneyards and animal tracks. With luck, the sun will set in a pink-and-violet sky, and the trees will be silhouettes against it. Dinner tonight is at Kapama Game Reserve.
Day 9 Kapama Private Game Reserve
Dawn breaks over the savanna. The wildlife is already awake, and at breakfast you might notice an impala or two wandering nearby. Today is a full day of safari in an open-air jeep. Your guide will point out hidden animals, like leopards lounging in trees and lions concealed in tall grass. After breaking for lunch at the lodge, return for an afternoon wildlife viewing. The watering holes, thickets and grassy meadows of Kapama are lively – track the rocking gallop of a giraffe or catch the flicker of the nearly 350 bird species that live in the reserve. Don’t forget to look out for hippos, zebras, impalas and more of the animals that also live here. Dinner tonight is at the lodge.
Day 10 Kapama Private Game Reserve
Bright and early, set out on a magical dawn drive in search of the Big Five and other wildlife: waterbuck, wildebeest, hyena, kudu, antelope and cheetah. Oh, and those tall towers made of granite clay? Those are fungus farms, made by termites.
Eat a hearty breakfast at the lodge and relax for a while. Later, you have some options: join a tracker guide for a bushwalk and tracking excursion or relax a little longer in your room. Late in the afternoon, you’ll go on another wildlife drive and follow scents, tracks and landscape clues to find the animals you’re looking for. End the day with a farewell dinner with your family, friends and guides.
Day 11 Saying Good Bye
Today is your last wildlife viewing drive! Maybe you’ll spot the white rhino – the world’s third largest land mammal – or hear the ferocious roar of a nearby lion.
You trekked craggy beaches, gazed from mountaintops and enjoyed South African ecology, culture and history. Return to Hoedspruit for your flight to Johannesburg, where you will connect with your flight home.