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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.

Cape Town
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.

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