With its abundance of national parks, beaches, swimming pools and hiking trails suitable for a wide range of competencies, plus a good collection of museums and a handful of amusement parks, South Africa offers plenty for children of all ages in hazard-free settings.
Botanical gardens, an aquarium, the Table Mountain cable car, beaches, Greenmarket Square market, harbour cruises, activities, good facilities and a relaxed atmosphere – the vibrant Mother City is a superb family destination.
Surrounding Cape Town, the Western Cape has good infrastructure as well as stunning scenery. Near the city, the Winelands offers numerous family-friendly wine estates, markets and attractions. Further afield, Garden Route spots such as Mossel Bay and Nature's Valley are particularly well set up for family holidays, with beaches and activities galore.
Durban has beaches, one of the world's largest aquariums and hot weather. The sandy fun continues along the surrounding Indian Ocean coastline, with activities from whale watching to kayak safaris in iSimangaliso Wetland Park. Head inland for walking and camping opportunities in the stunning Drakensberg.
Most South Africans are welcoming to children, and you will probably receive many offers of assistance. Get used to passing your child around like a curio; they will excite much interest and attention, particularly in rural and traditional parts of the country.
Since 2015 all children under 18 years travelling to South Africa have been required to show an unabridged birth certificate (UBC) in addition to their passport. If you do not have one already, UBCs are easy to apply for in most Western countries; unlike abridged birth certificates, they show the parents' details.
If one or neither parent is travelling with a child, the new immigration regulations ask for paperwork over and above the UBC, namely an affidavit giving permission for the child to travel, a court order in some cases and a death certificate if a parent is deceased. Where only one parent’s particulars appear on the UBC or equivalent document, no parental consent affidavit is required when that parent travels with the child. The controversial new regulations, which, according to the Department of Home Affairs, are designed to combat child trafficking, have received immense opposition and may possibly be relaxed in the future.
Themed tours Teenagers will enjoy tours geared towards their interests, such as Cape Malay cooking, township jazz, Venda art or urban murals.
Wild Coast, Eastern Cape Adventurous teenagers will enjoy glimpses of Xhosa culture at community-run backpackers such as Bulungula Lodge, which offers activities and cultural experiences.
Table Mountain, Cape Town Walking up the mountain will give older children a tremendous sense of achievement.
Royal Natal National Park, KwaZulu-Natal Hiking and camping in Drakensberg parks such as this will be a memorable experience for older children and teenagers.
Hogsback, Eastern Cape With its fairy meander and easy trails through gardens and forests, it's suitable for nature-loving parents with small children.
Clifton 4th Beach, Cape Town Sitting on a Mother City beach such as this Blue Flag beauty, among multicultural Capetonians, will be an interesting experience for all the family.
Arniston, Western Cape Has a sheltered beach with caves and rock pools near Africa's southernmost point.
Water sports South Africa offers lots of water sports for older children to get stuck into, including surfing, diving, canoeing, kayaking, tubing and rafting.
Jeffrey's Bay, Eastern Cape One of the world's best surf spots.
Kruger National Park Inhabited by the Big Five, Kruger has easy accessibility and family-friendly rest camps.
Pilanesberg National Park, North West Province Constructed with weekending families in mind, this malaria-free park near Jo'burg (and Sun City) has sealed roads.
Addo Elephant National Park, Eastern Cape There is a good chance of spotting elephants in this malaria-free park.
Oudtshoorn, Western Cape Has ostrich farms and a meerkat conservation project.
Penguin colonies and rehabilitation centres Found at Boulders Beach (Cape Town), Betty's Bay (Western Cape), Cape St Francis (Eastern Cape) and Port Elizabeth (Eastern Cape).