Let’s face it, South Africa is not the first destination you have in mind for your next family vacation, is it? Well that’s too bad, you might be passing up on some unforgettable memories. Sophie Pirlot, a Belgian mom of three – Aliénor (9), Colombine (7) and Aprilia (3) – has been living in South Africa for three years and is loving it. Passionate about travelling, she recently launched her own blog, Poesy By Sophie, where she regularly posts her amazing family adventures and her favorite spots in South Africa and Southern Africa.
“This country is a bottomless source of inspiration. I spend hundreds of hours looking for the family-friendly boutique hotels or activities. I’ve experienced tons of amazing places and can’t wait to share my favorite addresses with you.”
Yes, that’s right! From now on Sophie will be feeding us with amazing family getaway ideas and telling us about her favorite kid-friendly spots in South Africa and beyond.
Let’s now embark on her unique adventure…
What brought you to South Africa?
In 2013, while I was pregnant with my third daughter, my husband was offered a job in South Africa. We pretty much immediately said yes, as we had always wanted to offer our kids an experience abroad. My husband has spent the first ten years of his life living in Congo and Madrid so he knew how amazing such an experience is. I moved to South Africa with my three girls a couple of months after my husband. He had already set up everything for us in Johannesburg (nanny, schools, cars, house) so it was really easy.
How is it to live in South Africa with kids?
South Africa is a dream for a first experience abroad with your family. Everything is easy, healthcare is efficient and you can find everything in supermarkets (even Belgian chocolate!) Johannesburg surprised me a lot. It is a very green city filled with parks, forest, gardens and flowers everywhere. The climate is also really well suited for families.
Is South Africa really kid-friendly?
South Africa is extremely kid-friendly. Kids are treated like little kings; it is very easy to find activities, meals and accommodations perfectly suited for them. For instance, there is a gourmet restaurant in the wine country around The Cape offering kids’ menu and painting workshop while parents enjoy their wine tasting…a dream!
What would you say to parents who worry about taking their kids to South Africa?
Don’t hesitate! It is really an ideal place for families. South Africans are very welcoming and love kids. It is very easy to rent a car and drive around the country on your own. It is also super easy to find accommodations for all types of families. You don’t have to worry about health issues – there are very good hospitals and doctors here. Last but not least, the insecurity. It is a hot topic in South Africa but honestly if you stay away from ghettos around big cities you don’t have to worry about a thing.
Is there an ideal age to take the kids to South Africa?
You can take your kids at any age as long as you plan your trip well. If you want to do a safari for instance, it is important to know that most places won’t accept kids under six years old. There are only a couple of places that will organize activities for little ones while you go explore and I can’t wait to share these address with you. I arrived in South Africa with girls aged between two months old to six years and it never prevented us from doing anything.
What place would you recommend for a first trip to South Africa?
It is so hard to pick one. The Kruger is a must-try but I also love the Kwazulu Natal and in the north of the country the area at the border with Mozambique as it combines everything: breathless ‘African’ ?, huge parks for safaris and amazing beaches.
What about the rest of Africa?
In three years, besides South Africa, we have been to Mozambique, the island of Mauritius, Swaziland, Lesotho, Zambia, Botswana and we’ll go soon to Namibia. All of these places were great with the kids. If I had to pick a favorite I would say Mozambique. We were camping on the desert islands of Quirimbas; we were alone in the world without electricity and water. At night we would tell each other stories around the fire, it was unforgettable.