From safaris to spectacular beaches, historic cities to vast national parks, South Africa offers a true family adventure.
It’s the most visited country in Africa, and standards are exceptionally high, whether you’re heading for the all-out luxury of a five-star game reserve or booked into a pretty family hostel on Durban’s Dolphin Coast.
Cities like Cape Town and Johannesburg are international in every sense, but they’re surrounded by nature at its most impressive – Table Mountain is Cape Town’s iconic backdrop, and Johannesburg is close neighbour to the magnificent Highveld grasslands.
South Africa is also a country which promises the ‘Big Five’ (buffalo, elephant, leopard, lion and rhino) on several major reserves, including the famous Kruger National Park and Addo Elephant National Park, where five becomes seven by adding sharks and whales into the wild, wild mix.
Relaxed entry rules for families
Good news for families visiting South Africa – the country has relaxed its entry requirements for kids under 18. Now, children who are entering South Africa with a parent for a holiday, only need a valid passport. The adult doesn’t have to be a biological parent.
Before the change in rules, families were required to carry birth certificates for their children, or written letters of permission, when entering the country. This rule caused much confusion and anxiety among British travellers, so the decision to scrap it has come as a welcome relief to many.
So, travelling with children to South Africa has never been easier. What are you waiting for?
There are direct flights from the UK to three South African airports: Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban.
A long flight (between 11 and 15 hours) but crosses fewer than three time zones, so no jet lag.
Over 50 national parks and game reserves, including Kruger National Park and Phinda Game Reserve.
Kgalagadi is Africa’s only trans-frontier game reserve, and combines the magnificence of Botswana and the Northern Cape.
South Africa is malaria-free, and many of the Big Five reserves have family lodges, innovative kids’ activity programmes and exceptional childcare.
Beach and safari can be easily combined in a single South African family holiday.
Cape Town has temperatures between 20°C and 27°C from November to April and average temperatures of 18°C in UK summer months.
South Africa’s Western Cape on the south-west coast is famous for spectacular beaches and the capital, Cape Town, the country’s oldest city and third-most-visited on the entire continent. Nowhere does holidays quite like this province, and the choice of places to stay ranges from high-quality family guesthouses and self-catering seaside villas to stunning resort hotels and historic game lodges.
The eastern province, bordering Swaziland and Mozambique, has some of the most breathtakingly dramatic scenery in the country. It’s also very accessible by road and world-renowned for its game reserves.
The province where Durban offers big, beautiful beaches and a colourful, multicultural vibe. It’s also the area you’ll find Dolphin Coast and quaint seaside towns, just half-an-hour from Durbs.
Without equal for vast, wild, natural beauty – even in South Africa – Limpopo is fast becoming a family favourite for its range of malaria-free Big Five game reserves. The most northern province, it borders Botswana and includes part of the Kruger Park.
Eastern Cape is fantastic if you want to easily combine beach and Big Five game reserves in a family holiday. The birthplace of Nelson Mandela, this is also the province for the astonishing Wild Coast, extreme watersports, world-class surf schools and fabulous road trips along the Garden Route.
Johannesburg’s province, Gauteng, is small and central but densely packed and very high energy. Good for a city and safari holiday and walking in the Magaliesberg Mountains.
Best known for the entertainment capital of South Africa, Sun City, North West province has some of the country’s most extravagant hotels and luxurious family self-catering.
South Africa is big and the roads are good, so driving is stress-free and the best way to see as much as possible. Self-drive safaris are available in some reserves but, unless you know what you’re doing and feel confident in the environment, guided safaris are a much better option. Don’t drive in cities if you can help it. Public transport is usually reliable but taxis are inexpensive and good for visiting attractions and historic districts.