South Africa

Archived Responses: 

Dec 2004

My husband and I are considering a trip to South Africa to visit family this coming summer. Our daughter will be about 18 months old. I'm interested to hear if anyone else has traveled to SA recently with children. How was the plane trip (layover in Europe or just tough it through the whole way at once)? Where in SA did you go and did you feel safe being out and about with your kids? Keri

Although I just became a parent this year, I went with my sweetie to South Africa two years ago, and had an absolutely amazing time. First, I would recommend splitting the trip (at least one way, if not both) with a stopover for at least a couple days in London or another European city. Travel time from San Francisco to Johannesburg is about 24 hours with a change of planes, so it is easier (for both adults and children) to to split the journey in half. We spent five days in London en route to Johannesburg, but only had a short layover in Amsterdam on the way back, leaving us both incredibly exhausted on our return to the Bay Area. It was worse for me than for Michael as he can sleep on a plane but I can't.

Second, I would strongly recommend renting a car. I believe we arranged this prior to leaving the Bay Area but don't recall specifically. Be aware that they drive on the opposite side than here, and most rentals are manual transmission. Michael drove for the entire trip as he had more recent experience with a manual transmission car and drives for his work (it would have taken me a good half-day to get comfortable driving there). I don't know about car seats, but I would think you would want to take your own, if possible. South Africa's roads have one of the highest accident rates anywhere, but we had no difficulties as we drove very cautiously and only drove during the day. Renting a car enabled us to travel to many places we could not have gotten to via public transportation. I would be happy to answer any questions you may have -- feel free to email me. Lori