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When the hustle and bustle of daily city or big town living gets too much, escape to nature. Fresh country air, wide-open spaces, scenic hiking trails and the chance to see animals in the wild await.

Here are some of our recommended getaways offering the best of what nature has to offer.

Find other local destinations worthy of a visit.

Addo Elephant National Park


In the Eastern Cape, 72km from Port Elizabeth.

Why it’ll be a hit with the family:

Elaine Eksteen, a Cape Town mother of a two-year old, says: “If you start your game drive from the main camp you are almost certain to spot an elephant (if not 10) within your first five minutes on the road – just what you need if you have a toddler in your travelling party. Although others saw lion and leopard we weren’t as lucky. But, we did get up close and personal with a large male warthog who seemed intent on pulling up all the grass growing next to the road, delighting our son with the crunching noises that accompanied this. We also saw kudu (in large numbers), vervet monkeys, zebra, red hartebeest, buffalo, mongoose, dung beetles and plenty of birds, which the youngest twitcher in the family was keen to study, especially if his mom’s binocs were pressed to his face.

Since our last visit, a fabulous Interactive Centre has been added at the main camp. Here children can create their own spoor in the sand, learn to identify snake and bird eggs, clamber on an elephant-shaped jungle gym, identify the calls of some of the animals you’ll see on your drive and discover how elephants communicate by whispering into a parabolic dish.

Although we didn’t get to explore it, the marine section of Addo means it now boasts access to the Big Seven (the seasonal southern right whale and great white shark are on its list of wildlife). We spent two nights in the main camp in a Forest Cabin (which we think offers the best value for money) and a night at Camp Matyholweni near Colchester, which was more restful.”

Contact details: 042 233 8600,, or For reservations: 012 428 9111 or visit

Bontebok National Park


Located 220km from Cape Town and just 6km from Swellendam. The park is flanked by the Breede River and has stunning views of the Langeberg Mountains.

Why it’ll be a hit with the family:

The Lang Elsie’s Kraal Rest Camp has lovely open spaces where children can play safely. “Bontebok (do) come into the camp, so this depends on whether mom’s idea of ‘safe’ includes playing among horned beasts,” says Bronwyn Pirrie of Oudtshoorn. “The main attraction is the Breede River, which is perfect for swimming and canoeing. It is also a popular fishing spot.”

Children will enjoy exploring the scenic hiking trails and bicycle routes. Birdlife is abundant, so take the binoculars and encourage your children to spot some of the more than 200 bird species living in the area. The ablution facilities are clean and well equipped. There is a bath, which is a great help to parents with younger children.

Contact details: 028 514 2735 or visit

Kgalagadi Transfrontier National Park


In the Northern Cape, 250km from Upington, 904km from Johannesburg and approximately 1 000km from Cape Town.

Why it’ll be a hit with the family:

“Our children (aged 20, 17, 9 and 3) loved it. It’s the place to go to if you are looking for something wild and remote. The pureness of the area and its nature grows on you. We went in 2005 for the first time. When we planned our most recent trip, none of our children wanted to miss it,” says Charles Jackson, a father from George. “The red dunes, antelope, gemsbok and ancient camel thorn trees are not something you’ll see everywhere in SA. Some highlights include camping alongside hyenas, watching cheetahs hunt, seeing a leopard sleeping on top of a communal weaver nest and getting up close to a pack of 15 lionesses and cubs. Because of the red dunes and the fact that vegetation is sparse, the game is easy to see.

Our favourite camp is Mata-Mata on the border of Namibia and South Africa. We love the sand dunes, as well as the fact that it’s smaller, more intimate and less commercial.”

Contact details: 054 561 2000 or visit