After not travelling anywhere through most of 2020 due to lockdown (and postponing a Greece trip scheduled for July 2020), safari company co-founder Andre Van Kets planned a 10-day Garden Route road trip in a fully-equipped rental motorhome for his family of four, in the first week of December 2020.
“We wanted to go camping and let our children (two and five years) experience wildlife up-close for the first time. But we didn’t want to fly to Joburg or Kruger as the ‘second wave’ was looming. We also wanted to keep our family in our social distance ‘bubble’, so a motorhome road trip to Addo seemed like a great choice. The adventure of camping, with the convenience of a fully-equipped motorhome, was great too”.
Here is a summary of their experience, along with some great tips for holidaying in a motorhome with the family. The family travelled from Cape Town, but fully-equipped motorhomes are available in Johannesburg and Cape Town (or in other centres by arrangement) via the Drive South Africa website, where you can compare and select your ideal vehicle.
Cape Town to Wilderness (5-hour drive)
Break-up your drive to Wilderness with a mid-way stop at Roland Roosterkoek Farm Stall (just outside Swellendam). There is a jungle gym, swings, trees to climb and plenty of grass to run around for kids. Not to mention the delicious roosterkoeks. Clean, well-aired (for Covid-hygiene) bathrooms.
Read more about a game experience at Sanbona
Wilderness – SANParks’ Ebb & Flow Rest Camp (2-nights min)
Ebb & Flow is popular, so book well ahead. Stay at South Camp, which has electricity points and beautifully maintained rolling lawns and good shade. Enter on the N2 side. Wonderful outdoor adventures in and around Wilderness for families with young children: there are multiple hikes available (such as the Half Collared Kingfisher Trail). Cross the Touw River on a hand-propelled pont, spot the elusive Knysna Loerie, swim in the river, or rent a kayak. Go to Wilderness’ (warm-water) blue flag beach. Visit the Woodville big tree. There are lots of family-friendly restaurants and coffee shops in Wilderness too.
Wilderness to Addo Elephant National Park (4-hour drive)
The drive from Wilderness to Addo is about 4-hours. You’re spoilt for choice along this stretch of the Garden Route for kids’ activities. Radical Raptors near Harkerville, with its bird-of-prey sanctuary and daily flight displays, is a fun stop.
Addo Elephant NP – Main Rest Camp (4-nights recommended)
The Addo main rest camp has a cosy caravan/camping area with fairly private sites, each separated by overhead-high spekboom trees.
Says Andre: “We enjoyed morning game drives where we could park off at the waterholes, make breakfast and coffee in our motorhome’s mini-kitchen, and simply watch the elephants come and go. The ability to move around inside the vehicle meant that our kids didn’t get cranky even if we stayed out for four-hours plus.”
The rest camp has a crystal clear swimming pool with two resident tortoises to keep the kids busy. Spend your hot afternoons here. Visit the wonderful museum/learning centre where your kids (and you!) will learn a thing or two.
Addo to Keurbooms (2.5-hour drive)
“This was the shortest driving stretch of the trip. We used this opportunity to stock up on supplies at one of the shopping centres around Port Elizabeth,” says Andre.
Addo to Keurbooms Lagoon Caravan Park, Plettenberg Bay (3-nights min)
Keurbooms Lagoon Caravan Park is big. With 200+ sites, manicured lawns, avenues of huge gum trees and thickets of indigenous trees and shrubs – the campsite attracts diverse birdlife. “We even saw mongoose and rabbits. I suggest staying on the side farthest from the entrance, for best access to the lagoon’s beach.”
Campsites along the lagoon edge are preferred by those with fishing rods or boats. The sites further back from the water have more shade and are simply more peaceful. There are jungle gyms, a tuck shop, and well-ventilated and clean ablutions.
Andre says: “Even though Plett has so many great activities and beaches, we loved the fact that for our last stop, we just pulled up the handbrake (literally) and didn’t go anywhere for three days straight. Very relaxing.”
Keurbooms to Cape Town
The 7-8 hour drive from Keurbooms to Cape Town is the longest stretch of the road trip, but very manageable in a day after packing up camp.
“On previous trips we broke-up the return journey from Wilderness at Bontebok National Park (also great for kids) and we’ve heard really good things about the privately run Kam’Bati River Resort near Swellendam — another mid-way stop we want to try out — but I guess we’ll save that for our next family adventure.”
Andre’s tips for a family motorhome road trip
- All motorhomes (2-berth, 4-berth and 6-berth options) have seats that secure baby and booster seats. Most models have a bathroom with a toilet and shower.
- Collect your vehicle the day before you leave so you can pack in your food, kiddies gear, camping gear, bikes, etc. the day before. Leave early the next day to make the most of your time on the road.
- Pack lots of games, books, activities and snacks to keep kids (and Mom and Dad) happy on the drive. Don’t be shy: there’s plenty of room.
- If your kids are young enough, travel outside of school holidays to experience SANParks and caravan parks with less hustle and bustle. Roads are quieter too.
- Pack in a small tent for the kids to have their own “play room” at your campsites (and to sleep outdoors on a few nights)
- Relax and enjoy the quality family time