Most families choosing South Africa as a holiday destination have safaris in mind. Safaris generally fall into pricier brackets, so families wanting the affordable should keep an eye out for:
- Complimentary accommodation for younger children, often sharing with parents
- Half=board accommodation options
- Special offers
Next year, for example, Lalibela Game Reserve in the Eastern Cape will repeat is ‘Pay 2/Stay 3’ offer between May 1 and September 30, throwing in the third night on a full-board basis, including drinks at the lodge (excluding premium brands) and two game drives per night spent at the location. “This is really good value and makes for an affordable offering when combined with Cape Town and the Garden Route,” says Vernon Wait, Marketing Director.
Garden Route-based Gondwana Game Reserve offers bush villas to families, enabling them to stay on a less expensive half-board or B&B basis, yet still have the benefit of game drives. For the meals not included, families are free to engage in more casual braais in their luxury villas, with space and privacy for the kids to run around.
Tourism KwaZulu-Natal points out that many holiday packages include money-saving options, such as free tickets to a show or sporting event. These add up and can make quite a difference to the holiday budget.
Sue Howells of African Synergy, which markets La Cotte Farm in the winelands, says demand for self-drive itineraries has grown, and are a lot kinder on a holiday budget than tours including all transit costs. “One could look at combining some lodge/hotel type accommodation with some more affordable self-catering options, which not only reduce costs, but offer a variety of time frames and flexibility for all family members, who many not all want to do the same things at the same time, all the time.”
When it comes to children under the age of four, families considering a safari should check:
- Whether game drives have age limits on participation
- If activities can be adjusted to all ages, or whether the facility offers a specific children’s programme
- If there are baby-sitting options to relieve parents at times.
Many lodges in South Africa have added exclusive-use facilities for family groups, and have structured wildlife programmes to keep youngsters occupied and mentally stimulated.
Ghost Mountain Inn’s Craig Rutherfoord points out the wisdom of settling down in one base – it’s lets stressful for families and enables them to get to really know their holiday environment.
Ghost Mountain Inn, surrounded by a plethora of activities and attractions, is just such a location, where families can be kept as busy or as relaxed as they like. What’s more, young children are welcome on safaris, and some game drives are geared specifically to them. Long-stay packages with safari and spa value-adds are often available.
Renier Friis, Tourvest DMC General Manager: Business Development & Contracting, cautions that the preferences of all age groups in the family party should be catered for, not just those of the children.
“A lot of emphasis is always placed on ‘kid-friendly’ and kids’ activities,” he comments, “while a knowledgeable travel expert should be considering the needs of the entire family. We should not forget to ensure that the adults have sufficient activities and experiences.”
Friis advises consultants to have the correct profile of all guests – including ages and genders – ahead of the planning. This will guide them toward the appropriate type of package and supplier.