South Africa is an amazing destination for a family vacation. It's easy to get to with direct flights from several cities in Europe and the US. The roads are excellent, so renting a car in South Africa poses no problems, and gives you the flexibility you need when traveling with children. Malaria-free safaris offer a stress free experience for parents with children who are sensitive to medications Do your planning properly and your family will truly have the holiday of a lifetime.
There are plenty of options, from a simple trip to the beach or mountains, to once-in-a-lifetime thrill such as a hot air balloon ride or an elephant ride through the African bush. Here's a list of "Top 10 Activities for Children in South Africa", giving you a taste of some of the most exciting options available for a truly unforgettable adventure.
More About: Planning a South African Vacation With Kids l Family Safaris in Africa l Family Vacations in Africa
If you happen to be on South Africa's eastern coast during the winter months (June - July), check out the Sardine Run. It takes place along South Africa's Wild Coast and is hailed as one of nature's most spectacular events. It's an underwater version of the great annual migration of wildebeest in East Africa. Every year millions of sardines spawn in the cool waters of the Agulhas Bank (south of South Africa) and move northward to the warmer waters, just along South Africa's east coast. It's not unusual for shoals to be 4 miles long and 1 mile wide, they are clearly visible from the surface of the ocean.
The sardines are followed eagerly by predators. Thousands of dolphins, sharks, sea birds and seals enjoy this fishy banquet. To protect themselves from this onslaught, sardines form into giant balls called 'bait balls' which can measure as large as 65 feet (20 meters) in diameter. While bait balls are difficult to get up close and personal with (they dissolve after ten minutes or so) -- the predators that abound during this time in these waters make for some truly spectacular diving opportunities.
Just to add to the excitement - the Sardine Run also coincides with the annual migration of Humpback Whales that move north for the season into warmer water to mate and calve. Coupled with the occasional African penguin looking for a sardine snack, this is truly a wildlife spectacle not to be missed.
Did you know that more than 200 versions of mancala are played throughout the world? From Ghana to St Lucia, elderly men, young children and anyone with a little leisure time, will be sitting under a shady tree strategizing like mad using seed pods, stones or bottle tops as counters. I grew up playing bao (a popular version of mancala in Southern/East Africa) and have played it with village chiefs, fishermen, housewives and school children in numerous countries and settings. It's a lovely ice breaker and less strenuous than a game of soccer in the heat of the day.
The ancient Egyptians played Senet, one of the world's oldest board games, a Backgammon forerunner. A lovely painting in the tomb of Egyptian Queen Nefertari depicts her playing Senet, it dates back to 1295 BC. Apparently, the original rules were passed along verbally, because no written form has been found. Of course Egyptologists and others have tried to figure out ways to play, and now you can even download a Senet app to your iPhone.
Traditional African board games are great fun to buy as a souvenir when you're traveling in Africa. Many of Africa's traditional board games are strategy games, the forerunners to checkers, backgammon, and tic-tac-toe. The beauty of these games is that they can be created using pen and paper, or stones and dirt. So if you can't make it to Africa to buy one, and Amazon only carries mancala sets, have no fear because they're easy to make yourself. Find out more about traditional board games in Africa including bao, fanorona, morabaraba, mancala, senet and more.
More About: African Board Games l Africa Travel Gift Ideas l Best Africa Travel Apps
20 fun African wildlife facts to liven up your Monday ....
- The flamingos' diet of shrimp-like crustaceans are responsible for its pink color
- Hippos secrete a natural sunscreen that is colored red and eventually turns brown
- Giraffe tongues are dark blue and average around 20 inches in length
- Leopards are strong swimmers and eat fish
- Lions are the only cats that live in groups (prides)
- Warthogs can jump
- Chimpanzee females reach reproductive age at 13
- Male Nile Crocodiles attract females by bellowing, slapping their snouts in the water, and blowing water out of their noses
- Every zebra has a unique stripe pattern, just like human finger prints
- Hyenas are more closely related to cats than dogs
- Impalas can jump over 10 meters (33 feet) in a single leap
- Aardvarks have ears like a rabbit, long tails, webbed claws, sharp nails, long snouts, and are not related to pigs (despite their name)
- Both Black and White rhinos are actually gray
- An elephant's trunk contains about 100,000 different muscles
- Cheetahs only need to drink every 3 or 4 days
- Cape Buffalo have good memories, they've been known to attack people that have harmed them years after the event
- Jackal males and females mate for life
- Male Vervet monkeys have a turquoise blue scrotum and a red penis
- Ostriches can sprint up to 43 miles (70 kilometers) an hour and use their wings as rudders to change direction
- An adult Mountain Gorilla will eat about 60 lbs of vegetation per day
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Source: National Geographic and Image -- © Getty Images/Frank & Joyce Birek