With a car full of excited children, accompanying baggage and parents, great anticipation filled the air as we were finally heading to the airport for our trip to South Africa. Travelling with 4 children on a family wildlife holiday in South Africa was fun, rewarding and created happy memories for us all.
A personal recommendation to use Lawson’s – a family firm, based in South Africa – was fantastic as they proved invaluable in giving ideas and choices. Our first week was self drive in the Western Cape and our second week was spent in Mpumalanga accompanied by an amazing guide, Bert. We met Lawson’s at the British Birdfair and sitting down to discuss the trip, with the children present, gave them a really good idea of everybody’s wish list for the holiday.
At this point, we did not let our bird list fly to pole position. Remembering this is a family holiday, we mixed our own passion for travel and wildlife with the children’s discovery and most importantly, enjoyment of it. Our kids recorded their own holiday by arming them with suitable cameras – we were amazed at what they saw and chose to focus on. It might be different to what we might point out to them but they could then relive their own captured moments, not always those seen through the eyes of adults. Yes, we had great itinerary diaries with check lists, but expecting kids to sit down and fill this in was going to be too much like homework. Clicking a shutter button was, by far, the easier option.
Flying direct from London to Cape Town, picking up our hire vehicle and driving straight to Boulders Beach, we were greeted by an army of penguins. 4 cameras were grabbed at high speed to record the moment. A fantastic moment it was too. There is so much to do with children around the Western Cape; wildlife, scenic and culture related. In a week we managed to go Whale watching off Hermanus, enjoy the glory of Kirstenbosch Gardens with its multitude of bird life, visit the Cape of Good Hope and surrounding nature reserve, sample the delights of one of the many vineyards, take a cable car ride to the summit of Table Mountain, experience a close encounter with all things cheeky at Monkey World, visit the incredible aquarium at the V&A Waterfront, get tickets to see the biggest rugby match of the season (just experiencing the phenomena of the crowds there is worthwhile), take the rather rocky boat ride out to Robben Island, walk with penguins on the beach and wander along the riverbank in the stunningly beautiful Kogelberg Nature Reserve. That was week one. Everyone still happy? You bet.
Tales from a real wildlife experience
By Penny Robinson