Increasingly, families are seeking out destinations while travelling, where they can learn about the culture and heritage of a country they are visiting, or walk away being inspired by the story that a destination or attraction has.
South Africa has myriad educational hotspots that families can enjoy together. Here are just a few to get the travel appetite going.
Kruger National Park – Limpopo
The Kruger National Park is one of the best-known wildlife parks in Africa, stretching from the Crocodile River in Mpumalanga in the south, to the Zimbabwe border in the Limpopo Province in the north. An educational tour from All Africa Tours teaches children about the role of conservation, and value of being a ‘good steward’ in the environment; lets them experience the scents, sights and sounds of the animals during the day and night; offers urban children the opportunity to camp and learn how to manage themselves and their possessions; and looks at anti-poaching methods and the plight of the rhino.
Giraffe House Awareness Centre – Cape
Located in Stellenbosch, Giraffe House offers easy access to some of Africa’s most loved wildlife and bird species. It aims to provide an experience where guests can enjoy the outdoors while learning about the animals, with the primary focus being to educate guests on wildlife conservation.
Lesedi Cultural Village – Gauteng
A trip to Lesedi Cultural Village takes families on an exploration of the various tribes of SA. The village is incorporated into the surrounding bush, river and forests, with five traditional homesteads representing the Zulu, Xhosa, Pedi, Basotho and Ndebele tribes. Visitors will experience a multi-visual theatre presentation on the history and origin of the people, a guided tour of the homesteads, and the Giant Ingoma (song and dance of all five villages).
Durban Natural Science Museum
This museum teaches visitors about human origins and the people of the Stone Age, and is a great place for families to learn about the earth and its history. Lifelike animal displays including the extinct dodo and life-size reconstruction of a Tyrannosaurus Rex are accompanied by stuffed insects, birds, fish and reptiles. Visitors can also explore the Hall of Earth Sciences Gallery, meet Peter Amen the authentic Egyptian Mummy, and journey back in time with innovative exhibitions informing on the origins of Africa.
Cradle of Humankind – Gauteng
This World Heritage Site was discovered in 1896, and is renowned as the place where humankind originated. Families can take a journey through Maropeng, the official visitor centre for the Cradle of Humankind; see the fossil sites in the Sterkfontein Caves; and explore the Wondercave which is home to fossils of rodents, frogs, lizards and birds, as well as breath-taking rock formations.
!Khwa Tthu – the San Experience – Cape
The !Kwa Tthu San Education and Culture Centre offers a unique experience of meeting descendants of the first indigenous people of southern Africa. Visitors can experience a San-guided tour, indigenous dishes, and explore local crafts.
While visiting the City Of Gold, families can take a trip to the Johannesburg Planetarium, where they can learn about the stars and galaxies, see how the moon moves in relation to the earth through high-tech satellite images, and see the stars in a telescopic viewing. Shows are also available for young children, teenagers and adults.
Boulders Beach Penguins – Cape
In the seaside village of Simon’s Town, the Boulders Visitors Centre introduces families to the world-famous African Jackass penguins, known for their amusing braying call. The vulnerable species has been classified as endangered, and guests can not only learn about them and see them waddling around the beach, but also purchase or sponsor a nesting box to assist with their survival.
Birds of Prey and Rehabilitation Centre – Dullstroom
The aim of this centre is to educate and teach visitors about raptors, and promote awareness of the species and their plight as moving towards being endangered. Guests can see demonstrations of how the raptors fly and hunt; stroll through the enclosures and read about the stories and histories of each animal; spend a morning working alongside falconers who handle the birds; and take perfectly curated photographs.
Butterfly World – Cape
In the heart of the Cape Winelands lies the 1 000sqm Butterfly World Zoo, where families can see some of the most beautiful butterfly species from across Africa. The tropical ‘garden’ also plays host to other exotic animals, a bird sanctuary, and a number of reptiles. It offers educational tours, photographic opportunities, and daily animal shows. There is also a Skeleton Park, which offers the largest display of privately owned animal skeletons in the country. From seeing what the ‘inside of an animal’ looks like, to experiencing walking through a present-day dinosaur park, visitors can see over 50 skeletons perfectly preserved.
uShaka Sea World Aquarium – KwaZulu-Natal
uShaka is the largest aquarium in Africa offering an array of educational, as well as fun, activities for the whole family. Sea World comprises a saltwater aquarium with indoor and outdoor displays and exhibits, an iconic cargo ship wreck, a dolphin stadium, seal stadium and penguin rookery. Daily edutainment tours take families behind the scenes, with interactive activities such as snorkelling through coral reefs, grottos and a dive tank providing a fun side to learning. The Village Walk is a market-like village, offering tastes, aromas and experiences of what Durban’s cultures have to offer.
The Noon Gun – Cape
This is an educational experience that is triggered by a daily midday canon blast. On Cape Town’s Signal Hill lie a pair of black powder Dutch naval guns which fire alternately each day at noon. The guns are the two oldest in the world, and date back to 1795. Visitors can experience the daily routine, from the removing of tampions to raising of the flag BRAVO to the firing.
Do you have educational tourism hotspots in your city or region that tourists should know about? Share them with us in the comments below.