In case you had forgotten when the winter school holidays fall in 2014, it’s between the 27 June and 21 July. Here are some ideas for fun, family friendly holidays this winter so you and your family get a break from the hum drum of everyday life.
Adventures in History
If there are two things which undoubtedly satisfy a child, it is wide open spaces and something which sparks the imagination. There are a number of places in South Africa which fulfil these criteria.
• The Battlefields region of northern and central Kwazulu Natal is chock full of battle sites, cemeteries and museums commemorating the epic battles that took place there between the Zulu, Boers and British.
This region appeals equally to adults and children as there is nothing quite like standing atop a hill imagining what it must’ve been like for hundreds of spear-wielding Zulus to take on the Boers in that exact spot. The adventure [and bloodiness] appeals to a lot of children, while the wide-open spaces provide opportunities for releasing pent-up energy.
• The Vredefort Dome is a completely fascinating site just outside of Parys in the Free State. The dome is what remains of a giant crater left by a meteor which crashed into earth millions of years ago. Today the site is a Unesco World Heritage Site due to its geological importance.
The dome is about 300km by 90km wide, and in between marvelling at the idea of such a HUGE meteorite, you and the kids can get involved in some epic adventuring like 4x4ing, hiking and river-rafting. The cherry on top is that Parys (the nearest town) is a decidedly picturesque settlement which will no doubt please the adults.
Nothing on earth can beat spying some of Africa’s greats in their natural habitat or getting up and close and personal with them in a rehab facility. Exposing kids to South Africa’s fauna will not only provide endless thrills but give you the opportunity to teach them about the inherent value of South Africa’s (and Africa’s) natural heritage.
• The Kruger National Park needs no introduction. Home to Africa’s famous Big Five as well as the lesser known Little Five, a trip into the park is rewarding and can be exhilarating too. If you don’t want to stay within the park’s confines, there are many small towns in Mpumalanga and Limpopo to choose from.
Hazyview, for example, offers a wealth of child-friendly accommodation and is 10 kilometres from Kruger’s Phabeni gate and within an easy distance of the famed Blyde River Canyon. The town of Komatipoort is very close to the Crocodile Bridge gate and Phalaborwa is named after the Phalaborwa gate.
• Addo Elephant National Park
Addo, as the name implies, is a haven for elephants and a sighting of these gentle giants in guaranteed. It is also home to lion, jackal and numerous other herbivores – all of which can be spotted on formal guided game drives, self-drives or horse-back safaris. If you don’t stay inside the park, there are numerous guest lodges and farm stays in the Addo region of the Eastern Cape.
• The Garden Route
The Garden Route is not only brimming with spectacular scenery, but choc-full of opportunities for spotting wild life. Close to Plettenberg Bay and Knysna, you will find Monkeyland and Birds of Eden, two places offering both a sanctuary to wounded or abandoned animals and the opportunity to get up close to some of South Africa’s smaller wild life. In addition there are indigenous forests in the area just waiting to be explored by children and adults alike.
Beaching it up
If you live in the Western Cape or the Highveld, June/July holidays are not usually associated with beach weather. However the Kwazulu Natal coast is sunny and pleasant throughout the year. The warm ocean temperatures mean that swimming, surfing, investigating rock pools and going whale/dolphin watching are still fun at this time of year.
Towns like St Lucia and Cape Vidal (which are on the door step of the iSimangaliso Wetlands Park), Amanzimtoti, Port Shepstone and Margate are all good bets.
Farm stays are fun where ever you are, especially if it’s a working farm – learning how the agricultural process works, petting farm animals and having space to run and explore make for an unforgettable kids’ holiday.
Good places to begin your research are the Natal Midlands, the Cederberg, Overberg or Garden Route in the Western Cape, the Magaliesberg in Gauteng, Mpumalanga and the Addo region of the Eastern Cape.
Where will you be spending the June/July holidays this year?