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Cape Town with Kids

Getting there

 

South African Airways, BA and Virgin have direct 10-hour flights. Cape Town is GMT+2, so no jetlag.
 
When to go
Best weather is November to March, but try April for value and sunshine.

Getting around
A hire car will provide freedom and flexibility. There are several agencies at the airport.

Where to stay
There’s something for every budget, but for family facilities the Mount Nelson Hotel with its swimming pools, babysitting service, children’s menus and family rooms, is hard to beat.

What to do
Kids of all ages will love the cable car ride up Table Mountain. Be sure to also visit the Two Oceans Aquarium and Victoria and Albert Waterfront where you’ll find plenty of options for entertainment and eating. Out of town, make for Boulders Bay where you can swim with penguins, then drive on towards Cape Point, spotting ostriches and baboons en route.

South Africa- Cape Town cableway

Family City Break in Cape Town

Family guide: Cape Town

Day one First, take a peek at Table Mountain. If you can see the top, go for it. A frothy layer of cloud (known locally as the ‘tablecloth’) can obscure the 1073m high icon for days on end, so you should aim to get up there at the first clear opportunity. The Cableway features a revolving floor – ensuring everyone can enjoy the spectacular views of Cape Town and Table Bay. At the top, allow two hours to walk to all 11 viewpoints (the paths are stroller-friendly). Keep an eye out for dassies.

Day two Head for the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront where you can explore a restored historic dockland and spot fur seals hauled out on the boardwalks. Next, take a ferry to Robben Island. The three-hour trip includes a fascinating tour of the prison by past inmates. You’ll be able to peek into Nelson Mandela’s cell and see the lime quarry where he, and other prisoners, toiled during their incarceration at the hands of South Africa’s brutal apartheid regime. It’s all serious, hard-hitting stuff, so if you have young children, stick to the Waterfront and visit the impressive Two Oceans Aquarium instead. Here you can get nose-to-nose with ragged-tooth sharks in the two-million-litre predator tank and stroke crabs in the touch pool. In the afternoon, take your pick of Cape Town’s excellent beaches – the best ones are at Clifton and Camp’s Bay, but be warned: the water’s chilly! Children aged four or more will enjoy the interactive exhibits at the Telkom Exploratorium, while the SA Museum and Planetarium, with its four-storey whale hall and dinosaur displays, will appeal to all ages.

Day three Get an early start for a spectacular tour of the Cape Peninsula. First, drive south to Simon’s Town where the African penguins at Boulders will keep you spellbound for hours. A boardwalk leads to the heart of the 3000-strong colony at Foxy Beach – a wonderful spectacle, but a beach that is strictly for the birds. You’ll find a less frustrating option for children at adjacent Boulders Beach where they can build sandcastles and if they’re lucky, swim with a penguin or two. Continue south to Cape Point and the Cape of Good Hope where from August to December you can spot southern right whales in the sea 200m below. Head north back towards Cape Town along Chapman’s Peak Drive (a breathtaking 10km route etched into sea cliffs). Detour to Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens where children can burn energy in the ample open spaces, then dawdle back to the city, stopping for fish and chips at Camps Bay.