With the last two years making us focus on the things that matter most – health and family – we’re all hoping for a sense of renewed positivity as we move into 2022. One way to get outside, stay healthy, reconnect with family and experience new places is to plan a family travel adventure.
Luckily for South Africans, we have so many options that you don’t even need to board a plane (which is a blessing, given the uncertainty of global travel currently).
If you’re looking to plan an adventurous break with your family in 2022, we’ve rounded up four South African outdoor holiday ideas with a difference, all of which combine the great outdoors, an appreciation for natural beauty, and a sense of adventure.
Stay in a treehouse
If you’ve got small children, few things could be more exciting than sleeping in an actual treehouse with the whole family. Teniqua Treetops Lodge is located in the Knysna Forest, 20 minutes away from the town of Sedgefield on the Garden Route.
All suites in the resort are literal wooden treehouses, built on stilts to maximise the beautiful views of the Karatara Gorge and forest below.
Choose between two family treehouses that are suitable for two adults and two children (one of them is higher than the other so isn’t suitable for very small children and toddlers).
Both contain kitchenettes, dining areas and an outdoor braai area for a self-catering family getaway with a difference. The resort also offers other fun family facilities including a kid’s play area, a pool and a games room.
Stargaze in Sutherland
In a remote part of the Northern Cape lies the tiny Karoo town of Sutherland, known for its big skies and clear weather. Due to its year-round clear skies, semi-desert setting and sparsely populated areas with minimal lights and air pollution, it’s one of the best stargazing destinations in the Southern Hemisphere.
The town is a world famous astronomical centre and is home to the South African Astronomical Observatory (SAAO), while the Southern African Large Telescope is located 14kms out of town. A pilgrimage here is a worthy adventure, whether you visit in the heat of summer, or the iciness of winter.
Book a variety of tours directly through the SAAO, including guided night tours to help you learn more about the stars and African astronomy. Combine this with a family road trip through the Karoo, and you have a holiday with a difference that your family won’t forget.
Take a canoe safari
Who says that safaris have to be done by car or 4×4 Landrover? A canoe safari is a great way to really get off the beaten track and experience the beauty of our country’s natural landscapes and waterways.
Canoe safaris are offered on many of South Africa’s seas and rivers – one popular option is to canoe down the Orange River that borders South Africa and Namibia.
Several companies, such as Felix Unite River Adventures, offer 4 or 6-day guided tours down the Orange that are fully catered with camping accommodation, and are led by experienced guides. Picture bird spotting as the sun rises, lunchtime picnics on riverbanks and sitting by campfires as the day draws to a close…pure serenity.
All aboard the Shongololo Express
Owned by Rovos Rail, the Shongololo Express offers a range of special train adventures throughout Southern Africa for anywhere between 12 and 15 days. Traverse the Karoo, the coast, the savanna and everything in between while you enjoy a form of travel from a bygone era, wrapped up in elegance and nostalgia.
Accommodation is in traditional wood-paneled sleeper carriages and every meal is an event, so while older kids will certainly enjoy the adventure, this form of luxurious travel may not be the most suitable for very busy toddlers.
Getting outdoors isn’t just about seeing new places: it’s also about improving our mental and physical wellbeing.
Being healthy also has many other benefits too: it can save us money on things like medical expenses and using up our medical savings with medical aids (some South African schemes, like Fedhealth, allow you to completely customise your medical aid for affordability depending on your medical needs). It also gives us more energy and positivity with which to face an increasingly uncertain world around us.
It’s clear that adventure travel doesn’t mean having to go halfway across the world. Within our own backyard are plenty of options for outdoor family holidays that allow for reconnecting with each other, while fostering curious minds and a love of adventure.