"When you're old enough, I'll take you ta Africa". I told my daughter this when she was growing up and I was working on the great continent. This year she turned 12 there was no excuse for putting it off anymore.
Exotic journeys with your kids these days are nothing new, but if South-Africa is on your to do list; here's a couple of good tip.
We decided to set Cape Town as our basecamp and adventure on trips from there. It's relatively safe, compared to other destinations in South Africa and supposed to be one of the most beautiful cities in the world. On Filipa's expectation list was 'see the animals' and 'swim in the pool'. On my was the usual 'get to know the city' and 'wine & dine'. Hotels come relatively cheap in Cape Town, so great hotels can be booked without ruining your budget. We reserved at The Capital Mirage Hotel, downtown Cape Town. It had nice, cool roms and a rooftop bar with a pool.
If you travel alone with kids, under the age of 15, there are strict rules that you need to pay attention to. Bring: the original birth certificate of your kid, a copy of the passport + a 'letter of consent' from the parent not going. This needs to be in english. Failing to bring these will stop you at check in. Very strict, but all in all good; in the prevention of the trafficking industry.
There are numerous ways of flying to Cape Town from Oslo. We decided to go via Amsterdam, where KLM will fly you directly. The Amsterdam - Cape Town flight takes 11 hours, but decent food and a state of the art entertainment system makes it quite alright. But 11 hours is a long time to spend on most things in life, so stack up with magazines, books, iPads, Uno, jokes, snacks and a ton of water.
Upon arrival in most major cities around the globe, you'll be presented with numerous more or less interesting challenges. This is prime hunting grounds for scammers and con artists, and they been practising for a long time. But avoiding it just takes a few simple rules.
Watch your back if withdrawing cash from an ATM, never turn you back on your luggage and if taxi is your transport of means; research it up front. The Taxi Hyenas will always launch at you as soon as you've cleared customs. Great offers, private rides, professional look; all stay away signs. In most cases only one prosecutor will hold the official license and this is the one you wanna get in to. Choosing other options can lead to adventures you do not wanna kick of your trip with.
You soon realise that all good things heard about this city's beauty, is true. Set at the far end of the African continent, underneath Table Mountain - one of the seven wonders of nature - Cape Town will impress you. This is a stunning city! And a HUGE city, surrounding the whole mountain. At the waterfront you will find the high end lifestyle, with fashionable boutiques, malls, luxury apartments and cool hotels. Heading 20-30 min from there, in almost any direction, you will hit the townships. These are areas you wanna skip, even though there are organized tours available.
The city is as complex as it is beautiful. Just wandering about with no plans is cool, but I'd recommend planning and researching for a better experience.
COOL STUFF TO DO
Nature - Food - Shopping
This is the offer and should attend to most peoples needs. Cape Town has something for everybody.
Victoria Wharf at the Waterfront is very nice for shoppers, but holds tenants you'd find all over the world. But right next to it is The Watershed. A warehouse building holding an impressive number of local craftsmen in all generes. To Filipa (12) both this and Victoria Wharf spelled out HEAVEN. I had a great time.
While in the area you should check out the aquarium. It doesn't seem all that from the outside, but holds an impressive selection of cool underwater stuff.
WINE & DINE
Cape Town is a great city for food. And selecting the right cuts can leave you with a phenomenal experience. Here's a list of restaurants worth eating at and why. And remember: book ahead!
Kids LOVE to be allowed in to the adult world from time to time. And taking your kids to a fine dinning experience or two, might just surprise you. Make a true experience of it all and dress up, prepare together and talk about what's to come. Make it feel special.
And remember... everybody is born with a neutral taste, ONLY the environment
influencing what we like and don't like. So if you eat oysters, so will your kid :)
Now that being said, this is not done overnight with a trip to a fancy restaurant; practise starts early ;) good luck
The best experiences will come from nature. That's just the way it is in South Africa. The wild is near, giving you a range of fantastic opportunities.
Rent a car or hire a driver to take you on a journey. See the scenic route to Cape Point and drive the Garden Route. The fun thing about hiring a local, are all the great lesser touristy places he/she will take you. Photo options are everywhere, with weather and nature always looking to surprise you.
Seal petting is not recommended, unless you know the guy ;)
Kirstenbosch botanical gardens at the back of Table Mountain has a cool canopy walkway. It's not very long, but provides you with a birds view of things.
The enchanted forrest in Kirstenbosch.
Surfers paradise, outside Cape Town.
Both a paradise for surfers and sharks. This holds one of the largest concentrations of the great white shark in the world. That comes with a pickle or two. This is a shark spotting tower. Specially trained spotters sit and looks for the great white all hours of daylight.
Photo op :)
At one point you just have to see the animals. They live right next door; the big five are just a few hours away. We set of on a four hour drive north east of Cape Town and found a sanctuary in The Garden Route Game Lodge.
The Garden Route Game Lodge is a private game reserve, with a family oriented profile. You can stay in a number of different options, ranging from standard rooms to luxurious suites overlooking the waterhole. It's an all inclusive affair, with game drives on the savannah at sunrise and sunset. Filipa (12) had a great time shooting a number of excellent images. All of the following images are shot by her.
Adventuring with your kids provides a lesson in life, an educational journey; as they called it back in the days. See the world, understand more, get perspective and spark the explorer that might be lurking underneath the surface. A trip like this, at the propper age, will set the tone for many things to come. And it's not complicated, it just needs a bit of planning.
Finn-Erik & Filipa