Wild South Africa with Neil Perry
HWK Celebrity Ambassador Neil Perry and his wife Sam take their two girls to explore this wild nation. From cosmopolitan cities to game reserves, Sam Perry shares all the fun they found.
When Neil and I visited South
Africa for the first time a
couple of years ago, it was
truly a life-changing
experience. Going on safari
was one of the most incredible things we had
ever done, so when we were given a chance to
take our whole family back there last year we
jumped at the opportunity.
Starting off at Madikwe Game Reserve was
the best introduction to South Africa for Macy
and Indy imaginable. We drove from
Johannesburg to Madikwe, which took a few
hours, but as soon as we hit the Reserve’s
gravel road it was clear the drive had been
worth it. There to greet us was a herd of
elephants drinking from the reservoir just
metres from the road. Then zebras, then
giraffes... What a great start to our holiday!
Lelapa Safari Lodge
We arrived at Lelapa Safari Lodge, which is
simply perfect for families, to find a two bedroom
suite (with bunks for the kids) that
was very spacious and beautifully appointed.
We went for our first game drive that afternoon
which the kids just loved. Our ranger JP made
it so much fun for the girls and really taught
them a lot about the animals. Across three
game drives throughout our stay we were lucky
enough to see elephants, giraffes (including
the cutest babies), lions, white rhinos, Cape
Buffalos, baboons, black-bearded jackals,
zebras, wild dogs, kudus and impala.
The highlight was definitely stopping in the
middle of the bush on the way back from our
evening game drive. They had set up the most
spectacular dinner for all the guests out in the
middle of nowhere, with gorgeous tables and
lanterns in the trees. It looked so magical, and
I’ve never seen so many stars in the sky. To top
it off we were treated to a great barbecue and
fantastic stories from the rangers. Don’t worry,
there were guards surrounding the area
protecting us from any unwanted wildlife!
Madikwe is a great experience for kids as,
not only does it offer game viewing, it has a
range of other activities such as cooking and
visits to the fun and educational Eco House,
too. My girls came away with so much
knowledge and enthusiasm for South Africa
and all the animals.
Next stop was Cape Town, a cosmopolitan city
with great shopping, cafés and restaurants, not
to mention a stunning coastline. There are
some great markets at the Old Biscuit Mill in
Woodstock on Saturdays; think quaint food
stalls, coffee stalls and fashion designers, all in
a gorgeous setting.
A must for the kids is a visit to Boulders
Beach to see the African Penguin colony. You
can spend hours watching hundreds of
penguins going about their daily lives,
waddling along the beach, playing in the water.
Staying at family-friendly More Quarters
Apartment Hotel meant we were walking
distance from all the restaurants and bars of
historic King Street. The one- or two-bedroom
modern apartments here have fully equipped
kitchens, making them the perfect alternative
to a hotel when travelling with kids.
After Cape Town we travelled to the beautiful
wine region of Franschhoek where we stayed
at the stunning La Residence. We were
beyond comfortable in our spacious Vineyard
Suites, with multiple beautifully appointed
bedrooms and private pools.
Ask our kids what the highlight of the Cape
Winelands was, and they’ll say Babylonstoren
without hesitation. This old Cape Dutch farm
has the most beautiful fruit and vegetable
garden I’ve ever seen, spanning three hectares
and overflowing with over 300 varieties of
edible plants. After exploring the garden we
enjoyed delicious juices, salads and
sandwiches in the Greenhouse restaurant.
We rounded off our South Africa trip with a
few days at the ultra-luxurious Sabi Sabi
Game Reserve in the south-west section of
Kruger National Park. Everything about Sabi
Sabi was so impressive, from the rooms, to the
food, to the drives. We went on four amazing
game drives with our ranger Marcus, who
managed to find a cheetah on a kill, which was
a big thrill for all of us, and a leopard up a tree
finishing its impala dinner, as well as an array
of elephants, giraffes, zebras, impala and
more. The kids also loved their time at the
EleFun Centre, a great facility which fosters
children’s awareness and appreciation of
nature, offering age-appropriate activities such
as tracking and map reading, while also
teaching them a bounty of fun animal facts.
South Africa is such a beautiful country with
beautiful people and spectacular wildlife. Our
kids absolutely loved learning about all the
wildlife, and I know they will remember this trip
for the rest of their lives. Our family definitely
has the safari bug and can’t wait to go back.