When I think back to our road trip around South Africa, I am overwhelmed by the number of places we saw and things we did. I’ve been trying to think of how to turn this into an actual resource for you though, and that is a little more difficult. I know what I’d like to know, but that is not necessarily the same thing that you’d like to know.
I thought that we have to start somewhere though so, I will start with the closest area to Cape Town that we explored and tweak as we go, to answer any questions you may have.
We found loads of places that our kids found interesting on this stretch from Cape Town to Cape St Francis and maybe, our list will be of use to you.
Looking at this itinerary, I would estimate that you could do it in 5-7 days, but I’d recommend 10 days so that you don’t feeling rushed. The Dias Museum can be done in a few hours while Redberry Farm could take a whole day, depending on how lost you get in the maze. The Transport Museum and a walk to one of the tunnels on the abandoned Outeniqua Tjoo Tjoo line can be done on the same day. Set aside a whole day for Jukani and Plett Puzzle Park and another day for Birds of Eden and Monkeyland. Have a look at where we stayed when we explored the Garden Route for budget friendly, bed and breakfast options. We really enjoyed staying at The Wilderness Hotel, Teniqua Treetops (self catering) and Tsitsikamma Village Inn.
Now, it’s your turn. Tell us what you’d like to know and how we can improve in the comments field below. Next week, I will publish a Kid Friendly Itinerary for the Eastern Cape and will try my best to answer any questions you may have.
This past Sunday dawned calm and bright so there was only one thing to do, and that was to go explore the top of Table Mountain. We’d been invited to experience Kidz Season by the Table Mountain marketing team and I chose to visit on the Sunday after my birthday to make up for a fairly underwhelming Friday. Such is the life of a struggling freelancer.
We couldn’t have asked for better weather. September is a fickle friend in Cape Town, as the seasons fight each other for dominance. While it poured with rain on my birthday, it was a perfect Spring day on Sunday, so we made sure we went outside to enjoy it.
When we arrived at the lower Cable Station we realized that we weren’t the only ones making the best of the good weather. The queues! You don’t realize how hot it is until you’re standing in a line, waiting to get to the point where you can split from people who still need to buy tickets. Why are locals still queueing to buy tickets, though? The line for people who bought tickets online moves WAY quicker. Seriously people, do not leave your house for Table Mountain until you’ve gone online and bought a ticket.
Have you heard about the Kidz Season Promotion? 2 kids can ride the cable car free of charge with a full paying adult until 30 September 2016. Talk about taking the sting out of the R240 return ticket price! But wait, there’s more. If you request the Kidz Season special, the kids will also be issued with a booklet that includes a voucher to pick up a sweet treat at The Shop at the Top and another to collect a goody from the Table Mountain Cafe. Cool, right? Industrious families might want to complete the quiz inside the booklet although, I’m sure more people would do it if there was a small prize involved. Just saying.
We opted to explore the interpretive path as well as wander down the Agama Walk before we stopped to enjoy the picnic we had brought along.
Did I mention the free, fast WiFi you can enjoy while you’re exploring the mountain? We instagrammed to our hearts content, while we wandered around and took a million pictures. If I ever explore Table Mountain on my own, I will definitely download the free audio tour available from VoiceMap and discover previously unknown parts of the mountain.
We had a great time exploring and look forward to going back again in the near future.
Disclaimer: While we were issued with tickets by the Table Mountain marketing department, we weren’t asked to write a blog post and, as always, all thoughts and words are our own.
A photo posted by Tami, Anton and the Zs (@tazzdiscovers) on
I thought I was going to die the other day. Here I was, on the path to the lighthouse at Cape Point, feeling like I was about to throw up. My ears were aching and my heart was pounding and that was before I’d even reached the first set of stairs! How did I become so unfit? I mean, I’ve never been a gym bunny, but I walk a lot and here I was feeling like someone who was twice my age. And I SAW actual old people walking up this path, in sun dresses and flip flops. I am ashamed!
What a strange intro for a post about National Parks Week! If you haven’t heard, SANPARKS is doing away with the entry fee to most of their parks from 12-16 September (with a few parks including Saturday, and some even adding Sunday into the mix). After I tweeted from Cape Point about 2 weekends ago, it sounded like you were interested in exploring the Cape of Good Hope too so, here’s what you need to know.
For those who are reliant on public transport, you’ll be pleased to know that Metrorail has teamed up with Cape Point, so you can take a train and shuttle service during this week. Check out their website for more details.
If you’re worried about facing bus loads of school children and church groups, have a look at this post we did a few months ago to find out where you can explore within Cape Point, that doesn’t require you queuing for days for the funicular.
Of course, the funicular is essential for someone who is nowhere near as fit as she used to be, to get to the old lighthouse. The good news however is that if you take the funicular up to the top, you don’t have to climb the stairs to the “old lighthouse” that doesn’t get used anyway (since it is often too covered in mist for it to be any use to passing ships). The far more interesting option would be to take the lighthouse keepers walk behind the top funicular station, and walk down to the working lighthouse lower down.
If you’re still concerned about facing hordes of people this week, why not invest in a My Green Card at the tourism office in Simonstown instead. For just R125 (which happens to be the price of a single, adult entry to Cape Point), you can register yourself for a clip card with 12 clips.
You will need your South African ID document when you register and you will need to present both the card and the ID document when you want to enter Cape Point with it. The great news is that you can take up to 11 South Africans with you when you use your My Green Card as long as they present their ID documents as well. Kids under 16 don’t need to present their ID documents but they will count as one of the clips on the card.
This means you can wait for National Parks week to have finished and visit Cape Point, when it isn’t as busy. What I did notice the last time I was there was that tour buses arrive at around 9am and that’s when things get really busy. Locals therefore should try and arrive before 8:30am so that they can get to the top before the crowds descend and leave the area near the restaurant before 10am. There is so much to do in Cape Point though that you don’t have to leave the park itself. You can simply go and find another (lesser known) section to discover.
Where will you go exploring this week? Let me know in the comments field below.
I was chatting to a journalist at the Travel Massive Women in Travel meet up and she fired a few questions at me.
The first two questions were fielded with ease but the last one left me stumped. After answering, Hazyview in Mpumalanga for the question, what was your favourite place in South Africa, this was followed up with, what was your favourite stop for families. I can’t remember if I answered with, “the Garden Route or Port Elizabeth” because my answers change all the time. It’s hard to nail down which stop was the absolute favourite, of the kids.
The last question was, “if you had to choose a place to go for just you and Anton, what would it be?” After she read the stumped look on my face, she tried to help me out by rephrasing and asking, “where would you go for a couples weekend getaway?” To this day, I cannot think of an answer because we have chosen to include the kids, whenever we travel.
Travel Families: Maintaining balance
At first I couldn’t remember when we’ve both been away from the kids, and then I remembered a friends wedding. Since Angie and Roscoe chose to have their wedding a few hours outside Cape Town, and the dinner reception would end late, we elected to sleep over. My very generous mom moved into our house for the night, so that we could make this work. Yes, this means that the kids (who are 8 and 11 years old) have never spent a night in someone else’s house.
Obviously I know that this isn’t the way other people manage their travel so we wanted to open it up for discussion. Personally, I’ve found it hard to be away from the kids for a maximum of 3 nights while I worked in government, and I needed to travel. This was despite knowing that they were in good hands, as they had their dad looking after them.
Family travel shares very few similarities to couples travel. Whether you travel by road, rail, sea or air, the focus is simply more complex when kids are involved. There are arguments for both sides of the fence and we’d like to hear which camp you prefer.
Personally, I would love to go on holiday with Anton where it’s just the two of us but I can’t wrap my head around being away from the kids and actually being able to focus on us as a couple. My mind zooms at a million miles a minute every single day and that is while the kids are with me and I don’t have to worry about their safety.
So, what is the longest you’ve been away from your children as a couple? How many days did it take for you to actually stop worrying about the kids and start enjoying your time together. How did you manage your worry? Do you use FaceTime or Skype everyday? If you travel a lot, how many of your trips are as a couple and how many trips include your kids?
We will be chatting about #TravelFamilies on Twitter this Thursday, 8 September at 8pm (2pm EST) and we would love it if you’d join us. Please follow our new family travel chat handle @travelfamilies and let’s discuss the pros and cons of family travel.
Many towns in South Africa can give context to their size, based on how many traffic lights they have along the main road. Sedgefield, for example has 1 traffic light…yes, in the whole town. George has quite a few and so does Knysna.
The little town of Wilderness is so small that it doesn’t have a single traffic light. It has just one traffic circle, but that’s it. This means that if you’re looking to slow down and plug into nature, Wilderness is the place for you.
It forms the ideal base for those who want to explore the Garden Route, as it is located between George and Knysna, and you have the sea in front of you and the mountains behind you. People who live in Wilderness love the outdoors. Runners, cyclists, bird watchers and hikers will find this town caters to their every whim and they will have a ball exploring to their heart’s content.
The Wilderness Hotel
We were invited to spent 2 nights in The Wilderness Hotel while we road tripped through South Africa and it was the ideal stop between Port Elizabeth and Cape Town. The staff went out of their way to ensure we had a pleasant stay and they even made a plan to store our bicycles for us.
Since we had never explore Wilderness before, we didn’t realize that there were two hotels with similar names, so we embarrassed ourselves trying to check into Wilderness Beach Hotel. Once we cleared up the confusion, the receptionist helpfully pointed us in the right direction and we headed to the correct hotel, further down the road.
While we love staying at hotels, it does increase our budget a little as we then need to find a way to keep everyone fed without having access to a kitchenette. Fortunately, before we left our last stop, I made sure we had a good breakfast and a whipped up some flapjacks for lunch, so we were okay for the first day.
Of course, since we’d only had flapjacks for lunch, we were keen to find a decent meal for supper and, since we checked in on a Friday, we could take advantage of the amazing supper buffet special, that the hotel hosts every week. Since this special changes every week, I won’t bother to go into detail but all you need to know is that, if we spend a weekend at Wilderness Hotel, you won’t be disappointed by having supper in house on Friday night. Yum!
After a lovely night’s sleep in our adjoining bedrooms, we enjoyed a delectable breakfast before heading out for the day. While we were killing time the day before, we met up with Moeksie who we had befriended at the #MeetSouthAfrica National Instameet in Graaff Reinet last year. We bumped into her while we were walking along the disused railway line between Wilderness and Victoria Bay and we quickly made plans to meet up the next day.
When Moeksie called us before breakfast, she suggested we join her at the Wild Oats Farmers Market in Sedgefield later on and we were happy to agree to that plan. We didn’t realize that the property that hosts the market actually includes 2 other markets within walking distance of each other. And, while the Farmers Market closes at 1pm, the other markets stay open a little later.
Like with all markets, the early bird catches all the best produce so, with us having a late start, some of the stalls were already sold out. I did manage to secure some farm fresh butter for just R35 (500g) and 2-for-1 Red Berry Farm strawberries for R20. Unfortunately, the lady who sold the butter had sold all her fresh cream so, after getting some brilliant advice about strawberry storage, we headed off to explore the other markets.
There was so much to see and it is a great way to get to know the Garden Route community. Every stall holder has a story to tell and you can learn so much about people by just taking the time to chat.
After grabbing a late lunch in Sedgefield, we headed back to the hotel to relax and veg out in front of the TV. Since the kids had their own room with their own TV, bathroom and coffee & tea facilities, we were happy to spend a bit of time watching some grown up TV in our room, while they watched kid friendly movies.
What a great way to end off our road trip. While we choose the self catering option for budget reasons 95% of the time, staying in hotels is such a treat and we wish we could enjoy it more often. Wilderness Hotel, your stunning facilities and professional staff have won my heart. We can’t wait to visit you again in the near future.
To book your stay at The Wilderness Hotel, click on the link below.