Incredible coastal landscapes, delicious farm-to-table dining, and extraordinary wildlife encounters are just a few of the things that make the Garden Route in South Africa a favourite family holiday destination.
The iconic Garden Route coastal drive is bursting with activities for all interests, with plenty lined up for the upcoming December school holiday. Here are some of the Garden Route favourites, geared for different age groups.
If you’re visiting the Garden Route from places like Johannesburg or Durban, consider flying into George Airport and making Fancourt Estate, a 10-minute drive away, your base. If you’ve got a little one with you, the facilities are ideal, and you can easily embark on short day trips to surrounding areas.
Children 1–3 years old: picnics and playtime [/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space height=”10px”][vc_column_text]There is plenty to delight youngsters at the nearby Garden Route Botanical Gardens. Savour the beautiful scenery and explore the dam looking for frogs and birds. Follow that up with a milkshake at the tea garden.
While it’s great to be outdoors along the Garden Route, Happy Valley is also great for a rainy day. The supervised indoor centre and party venue offers a series of activities including a soft play structure for children between the ages of 2 and 10, and a smaller play area for younger toddlers under two years.
Children 4–7 years old: puzzles, sanctuaries and strawberries
Exercise little bodies and minds in an entertaining, educational and affordable way at the Plett Puzzle Park. The two main activities here are a life-size 3D maze, and a unique forest puzzle walk. Activities are designed for visitors of all ages, but it’s most suitable for children aged four and up. Mom and Dad can catch a break at the coffee shop, set in a tranquil garden setting, complete with oversized garden games.
For something slightly “wilder”, there is the Wolf Sanctuary just outside of Plettenberg Bay. While the guided tours are suited for older children, there are a variety of fluffy farm animals to coo over, such as piglets, lambs, baby chicks, cows, and even husky dog pups too!
We also can’t forget to mention Birds of Eden, also in Plett. The world-class free-flight bird sanctuary is brimming with free-flight African birds. Encounter cheeky little monkeys at Monkeyland Primate Sanctuary located just next door.
If your family loves strawberries, make a beeline for Redberry Farm near to the estate. The kids can fill their own punnets with plump, fresh strawberries, ride the Redberry Express, speed off on pedal go-carts, and try a pony ride. You can also rally as a family and tackle the largest hedge maze in the Southern Hemisphere found on the farm. There is plenty to keep everyone entertained, especially during the Strawberry Festival in September.
On a sunny day, pack a few snacks, a swimsuit and the surfboards and head to Herolds Bay. The rock pools will keep curious water-babies entertained and, if you are lucky, you may even spot whales out at sea.
Children 8–10 years old: canopy tours and big cats
While in Plett, families can also book a whale-watching boat cruise, or stretch their legs on a hike in the Robberg Nature Reserve, a World Heritage site, only 8km south. When tummies start to rumble, make a stop for lunch at The Fat Fish, with a great view over the bay, for some local fish and chunky chips,
Jukani Wildlife Sanctuary is also super for older children. It is home to big cats including lions, cheetahs, tigers, leopard, jaguar, pumas, caracal, and serval cats. Other wildlife includes zebras, wild dogs, honey badgers and various snake species. At Jukani, the focus is on conservation education about the plight of large predators in captivity, in South Africa and all around the world.
Tweens and teens: outdoor fun and making friends
To keep your older children active outdoors, make your way to Acrobranch, located between Wilderness and Sedgefield. Children aged four to eight can let loose on the Acro-twigs course, while children from age 11 up can challenge themselves on an exhilarating course that boasts an impressive 48 obstacles.
Another great Garden Route stop is Elevate, which has a 600m2 trampoline park and indoor go-kart track. We especially like this one, as adults can get involved too with 60 trampolines, SODI Go-karts, gladiator beams and slam-dunk hoops.
Radical Raptors is a rehabilitation centre that’s building community awareness and takes care of the rescue, rehabilitation and release of birds of prey. Teens can fill their Instagram with shots from the flying displays while developing a greater appreciation and sense of responsibility for wildlife in South Africa.
What we love about Fancourt
- If you’re visiting the Garden Route from Johannesburg, Durban or Pretoria, consider flying into George Airport and making Fancourt Estate your base. It is a quick 10-minute drive away.
- The complimentary on-site Kidz Club at Fancourt Estate offers a safe, secluded environment for children. There are soft-play areas and qualified minders who also run interactive programmes for all ages during school holidays.
- If you are heading out for the day, the staff will pack a picnic lunch for your family on request. If you head to the beach, don’t forget a bucket and spade for playing in the sand!