Without a doubt my favorite extended family vacations were the two African safari trips that my parents took us on. If you can do it I would put it on your short “To Do” list. You can do an African safari and stay in tents or luxury lodges and I have done it both ways and love both. This is such an awesome experience and one your family will never forget. You see lions, zebras, elephants, cheetahs and more up close and learn so much about them and surviving in the Savannah. You will see the people of Africa and how they survive as well. I promise you this will be a trip of a lifetime.
You can do an African safari in Kenya, Tanzania or South Africa. Given the turmoil in Kenya I would recommend considering South Africa. Either after or before the safari you might consider visiting Cape Town.
SOUTH AFRICA AND CAPE TOWN
Cape Town is a spectacularly beautiful city and a great place to bring an adventurous family. With a city centered on something as rugged and gorgeous as Table Mountain, you know you’re going to have plenty of opportunities in and out of the city to experience nature a little differently than you normally might. Here are just a couple of the exciting ways your and your kids can make your Cape Town vacation exhilarating.
Dive with Sharks
South Africa is the great white shark capital of the world, so why not pay those sharks a visit? The waters around the Western Cape have plenty of delicious seals that great whites absolutely love. Luckily, with the help of a shark cage, you can get pretty close to our good old friend Jaws without having to worry about ending up like the seals. Generally, you’ll stand in a partially submerged cage that provides enough room for you to breathe comfortably without needing a snorkel or SCUBA gear. You keep your head above the water until someone on the boat lets you know a shark is approaching–that’s when you dip your head under water and get an up-close view of that big fish. Trust us, your kids won’t be able to stop bragging about this afterward.
Ride the Waves at Muizenberg
Muizenberg Beach is known for its iconic colorful bathing chalets, but it’s also hugely popular among surfers for its great waves. There are surfboards available for rent, and plenty of surf schools are ready to help you out if you need lessons. Before heading into the water though, check the shark alert flag. In addition to lifeguards, many South African beaches have shark watchers who are designated to keep an eye out for sharks. If the flag is red or white, stay out of that water! If surfing’s not your thing, head over to the eastern end of the promenade to check out the (shark-free) water slide.
Climb the City
Thanks to mountains like Lion’s Head and Table Mountain, you can get out of town while pretty much staying in the center of it. Lion’s Head is a moderate hike that your family should be able to complete in about two hours. Once you’re at the top, you’ll have a stunning view of downtown Cape Town, the Atlantic Ocean, and neighboring Table Mountain. Lion’s Head is popular for sunsets since you get a great view of the sun sinking into the ocean. If it’s a full moon, getting back down won’t be too hard, especially if you have a flashlight. If your family’s up for a tougher hike, conquer Table Mountain! It takes about 2-3 hours to complete, and there’s a large cafeteria-style restaurant by the cable car station where you can reward yourselves for that tough climb.
See It from Above
Helicopter tours let you appreciate Cape Town’s varied landscapes, from the rugged coastline along Clifton Beach to the winelands of Constantia. Many tours leave from the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront, which is near most popular hotels. Your family will love the incredible views a helicopter tour of Cape Town allows.
Whether you want to climb Table Mountain on foot or take the cable car up, The Family Odyssey is eager to tailor your trip to Cape Town just the way your family likes it. We are also offering a group trip in December 2015. Call us for details.
Liz and Mike Kohler
Co-Founders of The Family Odyssey