It’s almost school holidays again and here in South Africa the June holidays are rather lengthy. And if you decided to take off with the kids this time, my mom antennas are telling me you are already worried about what on god’s green earth you are possibly going to do to keep those ruckers busy. I know, I know… it’s not easy keeping our overactive little (or big) ones occupied and it seems like a lifetime ago when play-stations and trips to the movies did the trick. In fact, you’re lucky if they still want to go anywhere with you, because let’s face it, parents are embarrassing and just plain…boring.
Fabmom to the rescue!! Why not surprise them and spoil yourselves at the same time, to a holiday someplace in our beautiful, culture-rich country that you have never been before. It scares me that I know more about other countries than I know about our own. So I got to working and put together quite an impressive list of great possibilities. We have so much to learn about our country, and therefore about ourselves. There’s no better way to teach our kids to be humble and appreciative other than feeding them with knowledge about our history while on a fun family vacay.
If you promise me you will plan to visit some or all of these amazing places (assuming you haven’t yet), either now or sometime in the near future, then I promise to do so too. Deal!
Prepare to be amazed.
Mystery of the Knysna Elephants
Did you know there are at least 5 elephants still freely roaming the Knysna forest and no matter how many searches were initiated, they just cannot be tracked down. Hunted almost to extinction by the early 20th century, these surviving few instinctively knew where to hide and adapt in order to survive. They had developed specialized skills to enable them to live in the kind of vegetation where they could avoid the hunter’s gun and any human contact.
We could call this a hoax, however, every year runners doing the Oyster Festival 21km and 42km marathons report seeing dung along the side of the road. Hmmm mystery!
You can read more about these majestic and evidently intelligent gentle giants on the Knysna elephant park web page.
Cederberg in the Karoo
“Karoo” is the name given by the aboriginal people called the Khoi and translates as “hard, dry, thirstland”.
Here, among the botanical diversity and abundant bird life, you also have the opportunity to view pre-historic Bushmen Rock Art and in the evening, weather permitting, there is also the possibility of Star Gazing from the local observatory in Sutherland.
Legend has it that on cloudless, moonless nights, the stars are so bright over Sutherland that a person can walk by starlight alone. More than 25 000 years ago Bushmen knew that time is in the stars.
Certainly any star-gazer’s dream (amateur and expert, old and young). I have a suspicion the kids will love this! So head on over to Discover Sutherland for more information and bookings.
Namaqualand ‘Gaden of the Gods’
In late Winter and early Spring (August and September), Springbok, the capital of this region is world renowned for its colorful wildflower blooms. This spectacular natural phenomenon occurs for only a few weeks every year.
The story around here goes that in 1684, Nama and Khoisan people arrived at the Castle, at the Cape of Good Hope, to sell their copper bangles and bracelets. Simon van der Stel believed they came from the legendary Kingdom of Monomatapa and started expeditions into the unknown territory to the far north-west of the Cape.
Today this area is called Namaqualand, ‘The Garden of the Gods’. The unique multi-clicked language of the Nama, which is classified by UNESCO as endangered, is being taught to the younger generations again within families, and there is also hope to eventually add Nama language classes to the school curriculum. Be sure to check out Namaquatours for more on this intriguing and colourful piece of history.
Valley of a Thousand Hills
The Kingdom of the Zulu. And a nature lover’s paradise. There is plenty to learn about the indigenous Zulus and their culture in this tranquil and beautiful area. But don’t be fooled by its tranquility as this is also where many bloody battles were fought by the famed warrior, Shaka Zulu.
Legend has it that WS Field, one of the first Europeans to settle in 1851, used to have leopards spend the night on the veranda of his Field homestead.
Of cause, no visit to the Zulu land will be complete without a trip to one of the Zulu cultural villages, where tourists can gain insight into the culture and traditions of one of the largest ethnic groups in South Africa. I am sure 1000hillstourism can help you with more information.
Sterkfontein Caves and the Human Evolution
If you or anyone of your family are interested in Archaeology, then the Cradle of Humankind is about to become a most beloved destination.
You and the kids can enjoy guided tours of the Sterkfontein caves and view active excavations. These caves are world-famous for their fossil finds.
Fascinating discoveries have been made within the caves, including the world renowned “Mrs Ples” and “Little Foot”, an almost complete 3 million year old Australopithecus skeleton and, according to scientists, evidence that Ape humans or pre-humans existed before us.
You can decide for yourself when visiting, but first check out the official visitor center for the Cradle of humankind.
Amazing huh?! Let me know if you have been, or know of any other majestic places in South Africa that we can learn more about.
Happy Holidays Family!