Family holidays in South Africa guide

South Africa is a fantastic introduction to the continent: it has modern, multicultural cities, easily accessible (and many malaria free) national parks and excellent infrastructure, including reliable road networks and quality accommodation. Family focused tours, both small group and tailor made, keep kids of all ages happy, whether they’re toddlers who want to play on the beach, or teenagers after an adventure fix, while for wildlife fans, family volunteering offers the chance to work at a primate rehabilitation centre.
Family holidays in South Africa are about adventures both big and small, from watching penguins at Cape Town’s Boulders Beach to camping in the wild.
While many people head here with safaris on their mind, South Africa delivers so much more. You could hike and raft around the twisted landscape of Blyde River Canyon, drive the lush coastline of the Garden Route, and if wildlife is your thing, then South Africa has everything you’ve imagined and more. Elephants, lions and rhinos cluster around waterholes in Kruger National Park; whales skirt the coastline off Hermanus; penguins and seals inhabit Cape Town’s peninsula.

Map & highlights

South Africa is vast, with more than 2,700km of coastline and 1.22million km² of space, but its excellent road network makes it easy to negotiate its breathtaking landscapes and small towns. Family small group, tailor made and volunteering breaks generally include all transport, making life easy for you. In addition, the two main cities are perfect jumping-off points for some of South Africa’s top family highlights: Cape Town gets you to Hermanus and the Garden Route, while from Johannesburg you can easily reach Kruger National Park and Madikwe Game Reserve, as well as the magnificent Blyde River Canyon. This means you can avoid excessively long drives, keeping kids happy, and spend more time enjoying yourself.
Blyde River Canyon

1. Blyde River Canyon

Blyde River Canyon is one of South Africa’s most dramatic natural wonders and also one of the largest canyons in the world, with towering, twisted rock formations, forested hills and an endless parade of sweeping views. This is a fantastic destination for active families with older kids – hiking, boat trips, hot air balloon rides and microlight flights are all available here.
Cape Town

2. Cape Town

As well as the spectacular setting and gentle climate there’s a huge amount in Cape Town for both outdoorsy types and culture seekers, from rainbow-coloured Cape Malay houses and the dark history of District Six and Robben Island, to windswept beaches, hikes up Table Mountain and looking for baboons, ostriches and zebras at the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve.
The Garden Route

3. The Garden Route

Stretching 200km from Mossel Bay on the Western Cape to Storms River in the east, there’s no doubting the Garden Route’s beauty, with its landscape ranging from Mediterranean style coastline, to thick forest, to bushland to dramatic mountains. It’s also easily accessible, with excellent roads, the best public transport network in the country and numerous characterful small towns in which to stop off.

4. Hermanus

Those prone to seasickness should note, Hermanus is one of few places in the world you can watch whales from land. Southern right whales appear in the waters between June and December each year, and the town has a resident ‘Whale Crier’” who lets you know that the whales are in town with a blast of his kelp horn. You can also spot whales form a kayak.
Hluhluwe–Imfolozi Park

5. Hluhluwe–Imfolozi Park

Malaria free and more compact than Kruger, with excellent self drive and guided drive options, Hluhluwe makes a fine alternative if you want to spot the Big Five. The park also has an excellent rep for conservation and is one of KwaZulu Natal’s most celebrated birding areas. You’ll find southern bald ibis, jacanas, violet-backed starlings and African finfoots here, as well as thriving populations of raptors.

6. Johannesburg

Johannesburg may not seem like a family friendly destination, but for older children and teenagers it can be both fun and eye opening. You could take a tour of vibrant Soweto with a local guide, with a visit to Nelson Mandela’s former home included, or head for the compelling Apartheid Museum to give the kids valuable insights into the country’s dark past.
Kruger National Park

7. Kruger National Park

One of the most famous national parks in Africa, Kruger is also deservedly popular with families. Its 19,485km² wilderness is home to over 500 species of bird, and more mammals than any other African game reserve – including, of course, the Big Five. Not only is there incredible wildlife, the roads are well maintained and there are plenty of picnic/rest stops throughout.
Madikwe Game Reserve

8. Madikwe Game Reserve

Malaria free, easily accessible from Johannesburg, and home to a clutch of child friendly lodges, Madikwe is a perfect safari destination for families. Far less busy than Kruger, it still has an impressive array of wildlife. Lions, elephants, zebra, buffalo and giraffe are plentiful here, but it’s most famous for its population of wild dogs, a species that is endangered in South Africa.

Our top South Africa family Holiday

Family holiday to South Africa & Swaziland

Family holiday to South Africa & Swaziland

Kruger, Swaziland and Durban with the family

From £1695 13 days ex flights
Small group travel:
2024: 31 Mar, 14 Jul, 21 Jul, 28 Jul, 4 Aug, 11 Aug, 18 Aug, 18 Dec
Travel Team
If you'd like to chat about South Africa family or need help finding a holiday to suit you we're very happy to help.
Written by Nana Luckham
Photo credits: [Page banner: bikeriderlondon] [Blyde River Canyon: Abspires40] [Cape Town: Joachim Huber] [The Garden Route: South African Tourism] [Hermanus: Brian Snelson] [Hluhluwe–Imfolozi Park: guilherme jofili] [Johannesburg: Francisco Anzola] [Kruger National Park: leftcoastenvy] [Madikwe Game Reserve: South African Tourism]