I thought I’d wrap 2017 up with a post about the recent trips we took with the kids over the December holidays. We took three trips in total – yes three! But for one of them I decided to leave the youngest behind (I’ll explain why later in the post).
Some of you may think we’re mad travelling with a two-year-old and a four-year-old. Granted, it wasn’t always easy keeping this energetic bunch in check but I’d say with the places we chose we had an awesome experience and I’d definitely go back to each and every one of them in the future (provided I had the money of course).
I’m also including some money-saving tips at the end because unless you’re related to Zuma or the Guptas, I’d imagine most families need to get a good deal to make the financial burden of going away that much more easy on the wallet. December is, after all, a very long month considering that you have to stretch your salary and bonus all the way to January.
Highlights of the holidays have to be:
- Me running down a sand dune after my naked (yes, fully starkers) two-year-old, who in the summer heat thinks running around in his birthday suit is the best thing ever.
- Having a goat take a seat in our rented living room cottage.
- The stunning sea views from our Hermanus apartment! I could sit and stare at that view forever.
- My eldest taking his first ever flight on a plane and the kind British Airways pilot who let him pose in front of the plane with his hat – what a score! Thanks!
- My eldest getting a smiley emoticon pillow from a random stranger at Cape Town International Airport. He’d overheard how my son wanted one and he bought it and gave it to him with a jolly ‘Merry Christmas!’
- Rhinos grazing right outside our door! And going on a game drive with my mom for her 60th birthday!
- Patting a cheetah called Monty!
Here’s a breakdown of where we went and why it was good for the kids:
Our first trip was to Good Hope Farm out in Robertson. The working wine, olive and now livestock farm, which offers self-catering accommodation is owned by a welcoming couple called Taryn and Tienie. We rented out a two-bedroom cottage at R800* per night. The farm is 186kilometers drive from Cape Town so if you have little ones in the car make sure you pack ample snacks and things to entertain them cause the drive is long. Try not to rock up at night as the farm roads can be quite long and confusing.
Why it’s good for the kids: There’s lots to see and do on the farm so you don’t even need to leave the premises unless you want to go wine tasting or have to dash back to Robertson because you forgot something. There’s a variety of tame (and not so tame) livestock roaming the farm freely including horses, goats, chickens, a donkey and pigs to name but a few. There’s jungle gyms, two pools and a dam where kids can splash around and go out kayaking. Life jackets are also available for kids and adults the communal kitchen nearby the dam. If you’re sporty, don’t forget to bring mountain bikes and running shoes. Take with plenty of sun-cream – it gets very hot out there.
To book a place simply contact them via email for phone. You’ll have to pay a 50% deposit upfront to secure your booking.
The owners of this beach house which is split into several apartments didn’t think long and hard about the name of this place but at least it states exactly what it is ‘Right on the beach’. There’s a small, intimate little beach filled with rock pools right at the bottom of the hill. Simple follow the wooden gangplank which will take you two minutes and voila – you’ve got sand between your toes!
The apartment has stunning views of the beach below and you can watch the sunset from the balcony with a glass of wine while you use the Weber to braai.
The only thing we didn’t enjoy was the building work going on next door, which we could do nothing much about. The owner was very apologetic about this though and gave us a complimentary bottle of wine.
It’s quite pricy to stay here though – for three nights we paid a total of R7,200*. While the location and views are amazing I maintain that this apartment is still overpriced. But I guess you’re paying for the scenery and the convenient location.
Why it’s great for the kids: The apartment is fully kitted with everything you need including soaps, spices, cooking implements, crockery and towels. The second bedroom has twin beds but we did request a cot for our youngest, which was duly provided and assembled when we got there.
It’s so close to the beach, which is shielded from the tide coming in by rock pools. Waters are calm and shallow – perfect for young kids. Bring nets as there are small fish that the kids can catch and release. There are plenty of walks you can take from the beach and Hermanus is a ten-minute drive away. Don’t forget to visit neighbouring Voelklip beach which is also very child-friendly.
My mother was adamant that she’d be the first person to see our eldest, Hayden’s expression when he got onto a plane for the first time. So we decided to book a holiday further afield in Port Elizabeth. I came across Kragga Kamma Game Reserve, which had a midweek special on where you book two night’s accommodation for half price.
On this occasion we left Sebastian (2) behind and I’m glad we did as I don’t think the place is ideal for toddlers, especially if you want to go out on a two-hour game drive which came complimentary with this a particular booking. I don’t think Sebastian would’ve sat still for that long!
Why it’s great for kids: There’s a lot to see and do including game drives, a Monkey Walk and the cottages are catered with all the kitchen equipment you need as well as DStv if the children get bored. There’s a restaurant which has a variety of eats and treats available including a gift shop but it doesn’t stay open till late so bring some food along to braai in the evenings if you prefer not to have an early dinner. There’s also lots of interaction (at a respectful distance) with the animals, which often come to graze right on your door step. We had the privilege of seeing a white rhino and her calf graze outside our chalet! I also got to pat a tame cheetah called Monty. Kids are, unfortunately, not allowed in the enclosure but this is understandable given how unpredictable wild animals can be.
- Look out for mid-week specials – they’re often cheaper than weekend get-aways.
- Consider using Uber or Taxify to take you too and from your destination of leaving your car at the airport, especially if you’re going away for a couple of days.
- See if you can get discounts on flights through reward programmes. I got a discount on my British Airways flight through my Discovery Vitality membership.
- Take your own healthy treats for road trips rather than stopping at a filling station where there’s often only unhealthy takeaways available.
- Make sure you book in advance and make enquiries about what’s available – particularly if you’re living in self-catering accommodation.
*Correct as at 2017.