Traveling to the country of South Africa has been on my family’s bucket list and recently, with the help of Global Family Travels, such a trip became a dream come true! Our amazing multi -generational South Africa Cities and Safari trip included 8 of us, ranging in age from 3 to 65. My 3 year-old granddaughter, Harper, was most excited and eager to see elephants and hyenas on an African safari!
The Womack Family visiting the Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg, South Africa
Preparing for our Multigenerational South Africa Trip
As we began planning our trip, I knew a little bit about South Africa, but learned more from the comprehensive pre-departure packet and in-depth educational session given to our small group by Global Family Travels’ Africa Specialist, Kelly McCoy. Kelly was so great to work with from day one, and shared her wealth of knowledge throughout the process, and instilled excitement in us about our trip!
Cape Town: Our First South African City Stop
Cape Town is a beautiful coastal city and was our first stop on our South Africa Cities and Safari Trip. Our guesthouse was close to the Victoria and Albert (V & A) Waterfront, located on a historic harbor that features great restaurants, shopping, live music. It is a great area for people watching! The V & A Waterfront is anchored by Nobel Square, with its four larger than life statues of South Africa’s Nobel Peace Prize Laureates: Albert Luthuki, Bishop Desmond Tutu, F.W. de Klerk, and Nelson Mandela. There is also an incredible view of Table Mountain in background! Since our guesthouse was within walking distance to the V&A, we made several visits during our stay in Cape Town.
Photo Credit: Cape Town Travel
On our first night in Cape Town, we dined at Marco’s African Place for dinner. This was our first introduction to South African food. The atmosphere was warm and friendly with great food and service. Part of the dining experience included African music and dance for entertainment. Eventually, diners are asked to participate. My niece was the designated entertainer for the evening and it was great fun!
I knew about Nelson Mandela, townships, African safari game drives in Kruger National Park, and apartheid, South Africa’s racist history. Or, so I thought. The realization of the effects of apartheid immediately hit me as we left the Cape Town airport en route to our hotel. The shanties in the townships and very closely seeing luxury homes with electronic fencing was my first indicator of the disparity between rich and poor, black and white.
Flexible Itinerary for our Multigenerational Family Safari to Africa
We really enjoyed the flexibility that was built into our itinerary. The day we were scheduled to head south to Cape Point and the Boulders Penguin Colony it was windy and raining. So, our tour leader, Prosper, decided to make a change and we headed up to Stellenbosch, South Africa's wine country, where the weather was sunny and beautiful! After enjoying wine tasting at Jordan Winery, we had a delightful gourmet lunch. The winery has beautiful grounds where children can run and play and stretch their legs, and even enjoy flying kites.
Community-based Tour in Cape Town South Africa
One of the highlights of our time in Cape Town was the afternoon we spent in Mashiphumele township, where we went on a fun bicycle tour with Kommetjie. Kommetijie is an award winning socially responsible company owned by a local young man who also led our tour through the township. This gave us the opportunity to meet and engage with the local community, while visiting interesting places and learning about Xhosa customs.
Mashiphumele township bicycle tour
Xhosa people are the second largest ethnic group of people in South Africa. We were welcomed into this community by visiting a kindergarten class and singing a song with the little ones. My granddaughter enjoyed this although she did not always understand what the teacher was saying. We visited a library and community center and enjoyed lunch in a home prepared by a lovely resident.
"Mama Tofu, Qunu, Eastern Cape, South Africa" by South African Tourism, licensed under CC BY 2.0
Johannesburg, South Africa: Worth the the visit!
After enjoying the sights and sounds of Cape Town, we were off to Johannesburg! I was told by many that there was not much to see in Johannesburg, or Joburg as it is fondly called, and that we should skip it. I was told the only thing worth visiting was the Apartheid Museum. Wrong! Global Family Travels strongly recommended that Joburg is definitely worth a visit. Johannesburg is the heart and soul of South Africa! Entering the Apartheid Museum; an entrance for Whites and a separate entrance for Blacks, reminded me of Jim Crow laws in the U.S. of the late 1800s to 1954. The eras of separatism. As I walk through the museum, I am reminded of just how new democracy is to South Africa.
Our day in Soweto was one that will forever be one of my most memorable travel experiences. I am so glad that Global Family Travels arranged this experience for our family. We spent an afternoon with the ladies of Soweto. They shared their traditions and taught us some greetings in their native languages of Zulu and Xhosa. They had questions for us and we had questions for them. We ate and sang together.
Another highlight of Joburg was our visit to the Nelson Mandela Foundation. The foundation is home to the office of Nelson Mandela after his presidency and the exhibits represents more recent protests and current issues facing Johannesburg today.
Nelson Mandela's House, Johannesburg
Last Stop: Our Safari in Kruger National Park, South Africa!
After several days in Johannesburg, we continued our journey east and see more of this beautiful country. Although the focus of our trip was cultural, we were all excited to go on safari in Kruger National Park, especially the three-year-old! This was her opportunity to see elephants and hyenas.
When we arrived at our safari lodge, the manager greeted us and gave us an overview of the property. She mentioned that a hyena had been seen on the property a few days prior to our arrival and be sure to watch the "little one" if walking on the grounds at night. Suddenly, we were not so excited about seeing a hyena! That all changed once we jumped into our safari vehicle and were out on our first safari game drive!
Seeing the “Big Five” with the help of our safari guides in an around Kruger National Park was amazing. You cannot help but be in awe of these large animals in their natural habitat on protected game reserves. We even went on several safaris that included early morning, to late afternoon. We even had a self-drive with Prosper on our last day to have one more opportunity for game viewing! And the presentation on Rhino poaching was enlightening. Unfortunately, the brutal act of poaching is a system that continues due to global demand.
As our trip came to an end, we realized that it would not be the memorable experience it was without our great trip leader, Prosper! He anticipated our needs, was flexible, shared his personal stories and was so knowledgeable about South Africa. He was the gem that tied everything together. We are all grateful for his contribution to our trip.
Now that we have returned home, we have been interested in following the recent elections in South Africa. We hope that positive changes will be made for the majority of South Africans. We think about the many people that we were able to meet and engage in conversation and wonder how they are. My three-year-old granddaughter looks at photos from our trip on a daily basis with fond memories.
Amazing trip! From the planning stages to the very end, Kelly McCoy and Global Family Travels covered every detail. We were three generations traveling together and we all enjoyed the activities that were planned for us.
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