“Are we there yet?”
The all-too-familiar question echoes from the warzone that used to be the backseat of your car. Surrounded by discarded Nik Naks and half-eaten sandwiches, your usually angelic children erupt into yet another fight over a gaming device. “It’s my turn on the PSP!” “He keeps hitting me!” “OUCH!”
Sound familiar? That’s because it’s business as usual on any family road trip. While travelling with your family can be a memorable bonding experience, it comes with its own set of challenges. Besides children’s low tolerance for long hours in the car, they also become bored easily and need to be kept entertained with activities tailored to suit them.
This doesn’t mean that you should leave the kids at home with a babysitter, however. Including child-friendly activities in your family road trip can make it a golden opportunity to educate and entertain your children – while having a fair bit of fun yourself.
Here are five of our favourite child-friendly stops to include in your Garden Route itinerary, including car hire George :
Redberry Farm – George
Visit the Redberry Farm website
Strawberry picking at Redberry Farm is good fun with a tasty reward. Harvesting their own food directly from the earth is an especially novel – and important – experience for children today, who seldom get to see first-hand how their food is grown. Besides strawberry picking, kids can ride the Strawberry Express (a lawnmower engine-powered miniature train that winds through the strawberry fields), go for a pony ride, feed the rabbits, walk on water inside a giant floating ball, or jet around the dam in motorised bumper boats.
Birds of Eden – Plettenberg Bay
Visit the Birds of Eden website
The Birds of Eden sanctuary is a family-friendly stop that should be included in your Garden Route itinerary. The sanctuary boasts the largest free flight aviary in the world; encompassing indigenous forest, waterfalls and even a mysterious ruin. Suspended above the clouds by a canopy walkway, you can explore the sanctuary and forest at your own pace. The bird population is comprised of more than 3,000 birds and over 220 species of both African and exotic birds. Many of the birds, now rehabilitated, once belonged to zoos or were kept as exotic pets. A visit to the Birds of Eden sanctuary is an educational and humbling experience for children and adults alike.
Monkeyland – Plettenberg Bay
Visit the Monkeyland website
Monkeyland, just next door to Birds of Eden, is a free-roaming multi-species primate sanctuary and is a guaranteed hit with children. On a guided ‘monkey safari’ walk, your children will learn fascinating facts about the 550 primates living in the sanctuary. This includes capuchin monkeys, ringtail and black-and-white ruffed lemurs, saki monkeys, squirrel monkeys, vervet monkeys, howler monkeys, gibbons and more. Primates are charismatic animals whose antics delight children of all ages, so schedule a stop at Monkeyland on your Garden Route itinerary.
Treetop Canopy Tours – Storms River Village
Visit the Treetop Canopy Tours website
View the forest from above by joining an exhilarating Treetop Canopy Tour. After a thorough safety briefing, you’ll strap on your harness and helmet before making your way up into the trees. Then, experience the forest in an entirely new way as you glide through the tops of the ancient trees, suspended up to thirty metres above the ground by steel cables. For younger children, or those who are a little nervous, a tandem option is available, allowing you to take the tour in tandem with an experienced guide.
Cango Caves – Oudtshoorn
Visit the Cango Caves website
Include a visit to the fascinating Cango Caves in your Garden Route itinerary, where your children will discover a mesmerizing underground world of tunnels and caverns. Stalactites hang like chandeliers from the roof of Van Zyl’s Hall, an immense grotto with an eerie echo. If the idea of squeezing yourself through nerve-racking narrow tunnels doesn’t put you into a cold sweat, head underground for the guided Cango Caves Adventure Tour. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea, however, so if that’s a little too much adventure for your liking, stick to the equally awe-inspiring Heritage Tour.