KwaZulu-Natal is fast becoming a popular destination for parents travelling with children. Offering a variety of options, the province is a good choice for families looking to enjoy a holiday on any budget.
According to Nhlanhla Ngwenya, Communications Co-ordinator at Tourism KZN says: “We definitely cater for different ages and budgets.” Adele Oelofse, Revenue and Marketing Manager at Ghost Mountain Inn and Safaris, says because the province has such a strong domestic appeal, it has created offerings for all budgets in all areas, which international tourists can take advantage of.
Dividing the province into regions, there is something for everyone. Collin Thaver, MD of Southern Africa 360 says: “Starting in Durban families can enjoy the stunning beaches, the incredible uShaka Marine World and Durban’s vibrant city tours.” Ngwenya agrees that uShaka Marine World is a hit with families. Offering an aquarium and water theme park, the park is educational and enjoyable for all ages. Also in the city, Thaver suggests that families explore the Moses Mabhida Stadium and Suncoast precinct along the promenade, offering movies, a games arcade, casino and a range of accommodation. Just outside Durban, in Inanda, there is the Inanda Heritage Route, offering tourists a chance to see the history and culture of the area, as well as some excellent natural sites including the Finfoot birding loop and Inanda Mountain Viewpoint.
Northern KZN is a hub for game viewing and safaris. Oelofse says destinations like Mkuze, home to Ghost Mountain Inn, work well as a base for families to explore the northern part of the province. The region offers safari options and coastal reserves, including a Unesco World Heritage Site, the iSimangaliso Wetland Park. “At Ghost Mountain Inn, kids are welcome on all safaris and boat trips, and there are also some ‘kids only’ safaris available such as a ‘grubby bug walk’ where children come up close to smaller wildlife offerings.”
Oelofse adds: “Both Ezemvelo and iSimangaliso reserves offer various accommodations including affordable self-catering and camping options.” Thaver says the northern region has a number of seaside resorts that cater for families, with a range of family-friendly activities. Oelofse adds: “What differentiates this area is its easy access to the coast to complement the safari offering, as well as the increasingly convenient road linkages into southern Mozambique.”
“Moving further inland, guests have the opportunity to visit Zulu cultural villages where they can take part in traditional Zulu crafts and activities,” says Thaver. In the Midlands, there is a choice of resorts catering for families with children. “Families can also soar above the treetops as they go on a canopy tour located in the Midlands,”he says.
Kantha Pillay, KZN Regional Sales Manager of aha Hotels & Lodges, suggests the Midlands for its range of activity options. “The area offers picnicking, biking, fishing, art classes, markets, golf, farmstalls and even hot air ballooning.”
Thaver adds that the Midlands acts as a link between the province’s two major tourist hubs: Durban and the Drakensberg Mountains. Also a Unesco World Heritage Site, the uKhahlamba-Drakensberg mountain range stretches across the middle of South Africa and into Lesotho. Offering hiking, camping, rock-climbing, fishing and horse trails, the region is ideal for families looking to explore the outdoors. In a range of accommodation ranging from luxury hotels to small guest houses, the area has properties that cater specifically for families. Many of the larger resorts offer daily children’s programmes, keeping kids entertained and busy. Ngwenya says: “Most of the family-friendly activities are a stone’s throw away from major hotels.”
The trade agree that self-drive is the best way for families to explore KZN, however Thaver also notes: “Options for fully guided tours and coach tours are available throughout the province. It really depends on what your ideal holiday experience is.” Oelofse adds that the roads in the province are in good conditions, and attractions are within reasonable distances of each other.
Thaver concludes: “Compared with the popular Western Cape, KZN is very affordable and offers guests many of the same experiences. More often than not, these experiences are much closer together than in the Western Cape, so guests can do more with their time.”