Five winter holiday destinations for South African families

Here are five places travel professionals recommend as the ideal after-exam escapes for South African families during the July holidays
By Child magazine

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If you have school-going children, chances are that right now, you are in the throes of the June exam preparations.
 
While dealing with the stress, tears and headaches of getting your kids to buckle down and study, make sure you keep your sanity and that of your children. A good way to do this is to set your focus on something to look forward to once the exam madness is done and dusted.
 
Here are five places travel professionals recommend as the ideal after-exam escapes for South African families during the July holidays:
 
1. A tropical beach getaway in Mozambique
With pristine beaches and exciting water-based activities, Mozambique is a dream destination where the entire family can relax after the stress of the exams.
 
Dune-boarding in the Bazaruto Archipelago is a great way to reward your children for their hard work, according to Stephanie von Allmen, GM Dana Tours. She says: “Mozambique’s Bazaruto Archipelago offers spectacularly high sand dunes, making it ideal to go dune boarding (or sand skiing). If you feel you may be a bit unexperienced for this activity, the great news is that dune boarding actually requires very little skill, and is appropriate for both children and adults, making it a great family activity.”
 
Also Tofo and Vilanculos are ideal family destinations, says von Allmen, with activities ranging from kite-surfing, diving, snorkelling, ocean safaris and fishing to paddle boarding and kayaking. These destinations also offer a great range of accommodation options, which means there is something to suit every budget.
 
Access to Mozambique will soon become a lot easier for South Africans as the construction of the bridge between Maputo and Catembe is nearing completion. Director of Dana Tours Natalie Tenzer-Silva explains that the bridge will especially benefit KwaZulu Natal residents. “The road from the border to Catembe is only 110km. For those visiting Ponta Do Ouro, that’s even closer. Just a hop, skip and jump away.”
 
2. A Local and Adventurous Mountain Escape
The great news for South Africans is that you don’t have to cross the border to have a fantastic family holiday. There are many great family-friendly destinations and activities available on your doorstep.
 
Get the adrenaline pumping with an action-packed family holiday at Piekenierskloof Mountain Resort in the Western Cape.
 
Nestled among the Cederberg Mountains amidst citrus orchards, fields of rooibos, buchu and wildflowers this quaint hillside lodge will keep the entire family entertained. If you’re feeling adventurous, go on a 4x4 trip, brave the mountains on a quad bike or mountain bike or go rock climbing. For more relaxed and laid-back days, take the family on a lazy walk among the field of gazanias, vygies and daisies.
 
Still scared you’ll be bored? The great news is that Dream Hotels and Resorts, of which Piekenierskloof Mountain Resort forms part, has recently launched an activities programme for kids called Dream Xplorers, which is dedicated to creating a child-friendly environment for travelling families.
 
The Dream Xplorers journey begins upon arrival at the resort, where little explorers can pick up their ‘passport’ from reception. Passports contain fun and exciting activities in which children can partake during their holidays at that specific resort under the guidance of an activities champion. Each resort has a different passport with a wide variety of activities ranging from ziplining to marshmallow braais and talent nights.
 
3. Luxury for all ages: Seychelles’ Constance Ephelia
What’s more exciting than the prospect of spending your July holidays zip-lining, cycling or snorkelling for tropical fish?
 
An easy 40 minute drive across Mahé from the Seychelles International Airport, the Constance Ephelia Resort is the ideal resort for families with children. The resort overlooks the marine park of Port Launay and offers its guests access to two beautiful beaches. For the little ones, Constance Ephelia offers a dedicated kids club. They can expect themed programmes, cooking classes, movies and arts and crafts.
 
Your children will enjoy the adventurous zip-lining course, which links a number of zip-lines across the jungle, passing through tunnels of undergrowth and across ravines. Or, they can explore the underwater world on a snorkelling trip where they’ll be able to look for parrot fish, eagle rays and butterfly fish.
 
How about an excursion back in time? Easily reached by ferry from Mahé, La Digue is a laid-back, undeveloped island with only a handful of cars. You can cycle from one end of La Digue to the other in an hour while exploring tiny villages along the way.
 
4. Explore the Wild West in the US
Say 'Howdy' to the Wild West on a family adventure of a lifetime with Trafalgar.
 
If there’s a time in history that appeals to everyone’s imagination, it must be America’s Wild West. Brush up on Billy the Kid’s history as you take your children back to the land of cowboys and Native Americans on a historic journey to the Grand Canyon.
 
You’ll discover the mighty Rocky Mountains, the Badlands of South Dakota and Montana's Big Sky Country where you'll stay at an 1898 homestead and watch as Old Faithful spouts steam in Yellowstone. You'll also see the American presidents sculpted at Mount Rushmore and say hi to Buffalo Bill in Cody.
 
Together with your children, you can join a white water rafting trip down the Gallatin River or saddle up and ride with a real-life horse wrangler in the Montana wilderness. A trip to the Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Centre in West Yellowstone is also sure to leave an impression.
 
5. Marvel at the glitz and glamour of Dubai
“With theme parks, beaches and action-packed desert adventures, Dubai is an ideal holiday destination for families during the July holidays,” says Nicky Potgieter, Flight Centre Leisure Marketing Leader.
 
Potgieter explains Dubai is an ever-expanding entertainment haven for families with kids or teens. The emirate offers activities such as helicopter flips, journeys over the dunes, waterparks and countless theme parks from Motiongate to Legoland.
 
Dubai’s beaches are also a great draw for families. It’s all about the kids at Kite Beach, complete with a Skate Park, outdoor trampolines, an adventure gym and a play area for the little ones. It’s the perfect place to have a swim with the kids, collect shells and enjoy the sun.
 
Be sure not to miss the opportunity to experience the desert. Whether it’s sandboarding, camel or horseback riding or going on a desert safari, this is one adventure the kids will love. If you want your desert excursion to last all night, camp beneath the stars.

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