After a year of various stages of lockdown, local travel has never looked so attractive. Kerry McArthur has some tips on how to have a happy local holiday.
2020 has been a year full of challenges, frustration, new adventures and having to be cooped up in the house with our families. We haven’t even being able to travel to the local shopping centre, let alone to another province.
The opening of our provincial borders does present a lot of excitement as to where to go next, but this coupled with having to be being extra vigilant about health and safety can be quite daunting. Finding a suitable destination that fits the current regulations and our limited budgets can also be quite a task, so here are a few ideas to get you going.
Going from planning to leaving
It is important that before you start deciding on a destination, you take into account your budget, time constraints and the age of your children. Don’t set your heart on a bush trip with camping if you have a one-year-old. Similarly, it will be difficult to plan a trip to a fancy hotel with a limited budget, so be realistic about your budget. And don’t forget to build in some “pudding” – in other words, an amount per day for the things you didn’t think about.
Choose how far you want to drive, taking into account your child’s age, type of transport and your own preferences. Keep in mind that younger toddlers may get quite frustrated being stuck in a car for an extended car trip, so consider breaking a longer trip up into smaller parts with an overnight stay or fun stops along the way, allowing lots of time and space to get rid of energy.
Once you have decided on how far you want to drive, what your budget is and what you want to do, it is time to start looking at options
Where to go?
Kruger National Park
The Kruger is a place to build memories. Your children will always remember their safari adventure where they got to search for animals that were hiding away, and they would see more buck than they ever imagined. If you are lucky you will spot the Big 5. This can be done as a few days or as a day trip. With 10 different entrances, you can plan this as part of a longer trip to a different part of South Africa.
- You can book and pay your entrance in advance, which is actually advised by the National Parks Board.
- It is affordable at between R38 and R76 per person.
- Picnics in the car are a novel way to entertain the family, or you can stop at one of the many camps for a meal and to stretch legs.
- The excitement of not knowing what you are going to see never gets old.
- Being in the car for a long time can be frustrating and tiring.
- You will need to be aware of areas that are a malaria risk.
- For small children who are potty training you will need to stay relatively close to the camps, which means you may have limited sightings.
A similar experience to this would be Cape Point , Cape Town, and The Pilanesberg Nature Reserve in the North West Province.
Cango Caves, Oudtshoorn
Just 29km from Oudtshoorn, above the Cango Valley, you will find the Cango Caves, an underground adventure of dripstone caverns, huge halls and towering formations.
- A relatively easy day trip.
- Tours depart every hour on the half hour, which makes it easy to plan into your trip.
- Prebooking is required.
- Admission fees range between R150 and R220, which for larger families will need to be taken into account.
- Smaller children may be nervous about going underground.
- It is quite chilly (at a constant 20°C) which will take planning, considering the outside temperatures can rise quite steeply.
Similar experiences to this are Sterkfontein and Wonder Caves in The Cradle of Humankind, Sudwala Caves in Mpumalanga and uKhahlamba-Drakensberg Caves.
uShaka Marine World
A hybrid between world-class entertainment and marine life with the added excitement of water rides and a theme park. This is fun day out, bound to make everyone happy and exhausted at the end of a very busy day.
- Very close to the main areas in Durban.
- A lot of variety: seal or penguin shows, theme park rides, oceanarium, among many other attractions.
- Children under three are free.
- It is important during the off-peak season to watch out for days when they are closed.
- Online booking is not allowed due to Covid19 restrictions. Tickets may only be purchased at the ticketing office.
- No food may be brought into the venue.
Similar experiences to this are Two Oceans Aquarium in Cape Town and Bayworld in Port Elizabeth. For a water park not to miss, try Happy Island Water World in Johannesburg.
Table Mountain Aerial Cable Car
An experience of a lifetime, this cable car will take you all the way to the top of Table Mountain. It is a five-minute trip up the mountain with views over Cape Town, Table Bay and Robben Island. Once you are at the top, there are guided walking tours, an audio tour, and a café that offers various teas and meals.
- Easy to access from Cape Town.
- You can decide how long you want to spend on this outing.
- This can be very weather dependent.
- Prices start at R190 for children and R380 for adults.
Similar experiences to this are the Aerial Cableway in Hartebeespoort (close to JHB and Pretoria). The National Zoological Gardens in Pretoria has a lovely cable car that spans the zoo. Durban Funworld also has a cable car, which is a great way to see the promenade.
Plett Puzzle Park
Found in the Garden Route of South Africa, the Plett Puzzle Park is a fun day out for the whole family. There are two main activities, one being a life size 3D maze and then a forest puzzle walk. This is a great opportunity to exercise your body and your brain. There is a coffee shop and play area available to visitors.
- Can keep you and the kids busy for the whole morning.
- Lovely day outside in the fresh air.
- All ages will be entertained and challenged in the puzzle parks.
- Lots of other activities to keep little ones busy.
- Pricing starts at R115 for children.
- Separate entrance fees need to be paid for both puzzle walks, however a combo ticket can be purchased starting at R245.
- This is an outdoors activity, so you will need to watch the weather.
Similar experiences to this are the Hedge Maze at Redberry Farm in George and the Honeydew Mazes in JHB. The Honeydew mazes are also open for night adventures.
When choosing your holiday or experience it is important to remember to stay compliant with the Covid-19 regulations including masks, sanitisers and social distancing, and remember that all venues have a limit on how many visitors they are allowed so along with your family remember to take your sense of humour and as much patience as you can gather.