South Africa The Garden Route with Kids
Hiking in Knysna forest, enjoying some game drives and more
Welcome to PART TWO of four, featuring a 20-day road trip itinerary along The Garden Route with kids. We have split the 20 days road trip to make it easier for you to find what you’re looking for. Choose which part interests you the most and enjoy more detailed information on the section you are actually travelling to. If this is your first trip to South Africa with kids you may want to read this first FAQ & MORE
If you have arrived on our page and would like to read part 1, 3 and 4 then click below.
Part 1 * 5 Days – South Africa Garden Route road trip with kids - Whale watching in Hermanus Gansbaai & more
Part 3 * 4 Days - South Africa with kids - Wild life encounter at the Eastern Cape Port Elizabeth
Part 4 * 5 Days - Cape Town with kids
Let's carry on with our trip along the Garden Route with kids. We're already on day six with our Travelling South Africa with young kids itinerary. Happy reading.
Day 6 – 11 Based in Knysna
Knysna and Plettenberg Bay are situated in the heart of the Garden Route and are the perfect towns to stay while exploring the surrounding areas. We stayed in Knysna as we found an accommodation we loved and wanted to stay there. Yes, most of our activities where actually nearer the Plettenberg Bay area so if you find an accommodation you like in Plett then you might be a bit less in the car then we were. But it has not really disturbed us too much. I will let you be the judge after you have discovered our activities and what else there is on offer.
The drive from Gansbaai to Knysna is a good 4h30. You can stay on the N2 all the way passing by the picturesque little town of Swellendam which is the 3rd oldest town in the republic of South Africa and the largest youngberry growing area in the world. If you need to stop regularly because of your young travel nomads, then this might be a good place. Plenty of restaurants and areas to run around.
We always take it a bit as it comes with the kids. They’re usually pretty good travelers and with a bit of interaction whilst driving we can stay in the car a good 4 hours if needed. On this particular day the kids woke up super early, so we left the previous accommodation a good two hours pre-schedule and as they fell asleep during the drive we carried on all the way to Knysna and stopped at the “Map of Africa” view point for a picnic lunch.
We enjoyed the picnic in the open area across from the Map of Africa which offered the amazing view in the photo below. Not a bad picnic place don’t you think!
Day 7 :: Jubilee Creek Walk and Picnic place
When the weather is not brilliant at the coast, go inland. And this is what we did this day. The picnic site and walk is situated on the banks of Millwood Creek deep in the Goudveld forest in Knysna. It is part of the SanPark group so there is a small entry fee payable at the gate. The drive after the gate is on a gravel road - the only long gravel road on your trip – and goes on forever. At least it seems like it does. But trust me, it is well worth the drive and the effort.
With picnic benches, barbeque facilities, bins and toilets, this is a clean and simply breathtakingly beautiful area. The kids enjoyed the stream and played in the water while we could relax a bit and admire this amazing place.
The 3.6 km round trip walking trail starts and ends at the picnic site. It will guide you through indigenous forest alongside the creek, passing some old gold-mine dug-outs until you reach a small rock pool and a waterfall. Some river crossings add a bit of adventure and the finding of frogs add the wildlife part. You can swim in the pools so do not forget the swimming stuff if weather permits.
Day 8 :: Tenikwa Wildlife Centre & donation delivery to a creche
I got in touch with Tenikwa Wildlife Rehabilitation and Education Centre well before our trip. The reason was to find out a bit more about their work and what really lays behind it and makes them the biggest and most successful rehabilitation center in the Western Cape. Tenikwa agreed to work with us, Packed Again, and invited us for an exclusive morning.
Their work is all about educating the young generation and passing it on in the hope of making a difference one day. A full article will be on our blog soon.
Our private guide explained about the different animals they have in their centre and made it a fun viewing experience.
I was able to visit the hospital part together with the “get well and observation area” which is completely off limit to the public. It was an interesting and very well-maintained section. Basically, keep in mind, if you visit a proper rehabilitation centre, you will not be able to see animals that will be released as they cannot have contact with humans.
Tenikwa offers a great family EcoKids package which involves the whole family in the education and the kids can have their certificate at the end, so long as they pass the quiz.
I also got to know through Tenikwa, that nearby was a forgotten creche which was in desperate need. We therefore decided to make a donation to them. After a quick appeal in Switzerland I was supported by some amazing Swiss mums who donated clothes, and money so we could buy a lot more of the necessary items in South Africa, which was great.
We only visited the crèche for a short time to unload all the donations. The timing was not ideal as the little munchkins had their nap time and we did not want to disturb their routine too much. It was a great experience and an eye opener.
Lunch in Plettenberg Centre with an amazing play area…
Day 9 :: Knysna Elephant Park & Robberg Nature Reserve
We were not sure what to think of the experience and encounter at the Knysna Elephant Park. Honestly without the kids we would not have visited the place as we would rather see elephants in one of the National Parks. But when travelling with young kids other activities are becoming interesting and more enjoyable. The whole set up is great, very informative visitors center and nice people. Our plan was to be there early but as we’re loving our lazy mornings we made it for 11h which was probably the busiest time of the day. Never mind. We purchased a bucket full of fruit and after a quick video safety briefing we all boarded a tractor train and went to meet the elephants.
I guess if this is your 1st encounter with these majestic, beautiful animals then you will be in awe.
The elephants know exactly what will happen. As soon as they see the tractor approaching they all gather behind a wooden fence and await the fruit – which we are permitted to feed to them. Yes it was great for the kids to be so close and to be able to actually feed them and have this whole experience of walking with the elephants out in the field. But it was all a bit too much for our son, as he suddenly was overwhelmed. The whole scenario is repeated every 30 min. You can stay out with the elephants as long as you like and it was quite nice to observe the whole scene from a small distance.
Do it but don’t think too much of it. The kids will love it for sure!
Robberg Nature Reserve :: a MUST visit
In the afternoon it was time to take a little walk and just enjoy the nature. We drove down to Robberg Nature Reserve just 8km outside Plettenberg bay. The reserve is also a national monument and World Heritage Site and as it belongs to CapeNature there is an entry fee to be paid.
The reserve offers several different hikes in length. We chose the Gap hike which is a 3 km roundtrip and the shortest one there is. I recommend starting it clockwise. You will arrive quickly at a picnic area which affords an amazing view along the coastline. Take a few minutes to observe as we spotted dolphins playing in the waves below us. When you get to the part where the path splits you will find an amazing beach down on your right. Don’t miss it! We had a great time just running up and down the empty beach and getting chased by the powerful waves. A real memorable moment. We could not believe that no one else descended to this little paradise.
Join us on a walk & a run at the beach
Day 10 :: Game Drive at Plettenberg Private Game Reserve.
There is one way to ensure you will see the wildlife, and this is by joining a game drive within a Private Game Reserve. Whilst investigating which Game Reserve to choose, we realized quickly that not all allow young kids on to the drive. Or you pay for a private guide and vehicle which cost a small fortune. I found two reserves where kids are welcome. The Garden Route Game Reserve (which was fully booked) and Plettenberg Private Game Reserve. As we were not residing guests, we had the option of different day drives, which worked perfectly with the kids. For more info read TOP TIPS to have a successful Safari Game Drive with Kids
When you enter the Reserve you can already enjoy a small self-drive until you arrive at the Lodge. We saw some elephants, kudus and zebras, a perfect start to a great morning.
We arrived at 10H30 and let the kids enjoy the play area before the game drive. The reserve operates vehicles for 10 and 20 passengers. As our group consisted of 11 persons including another family with a little boy we had the luxury of the 20 persons open sided lorry. Plenty of space for the kids to actually move from one seat to another and not to be stuck for 2h30 in one seat.
The price was about 50.- Swiss francs per adult and ¼ of the price for kids under 4 years old, which is perfectly ok, if you think it costs 500.- per person to stay the night.
We had a great drive and our guide was very good. The kids needed a toilet break half way through and he was kind enough to place the vehicle safely so we could quickly exit.
We saw rhino and giraffes, were charged by a young elephant, sneaked close to two sleepy lions, finally saw a Cheetah, and a hippo made a quick appearance amongst some geese. The crocodiles where rather hungry looking in their pond, whilst the wild dogs played in the shade under a tree. All rounded off by a beautiful Springbok, the African National Animal posing nicely for our cameras. What more could we have wished for.
Back at the lodge we enjoyed a nice lunch and the kids wanted to play some more in the play area. A very nice place and highly recommended if you want to see wildlife up close with the kids.
Day 11 :: Timberlake Adventure park and Knysna Heads
I had great expectations of the Timberlake Adventure Park. Their website promises a lot and makes this appear a paradise for young kids. Raving about their amazing play area built like a pirate-ship, the fairy wonderland and the duck ponds.
We wanted this to be the kids day and had planned to stay the day.
Unfortunately, it was rather disappointing and this is such a shame!! I get frustrated when I see great potential wasted and left uncared for. The play area had some broken bits where kids could easily get hurt, and the zipline was a metal chain with a metal bar to sit on with sharp edges. I guess you can picture the damage this could have caused.
I was super excited about the fairy garden as my daughter loves all these kind of things, but again it was in a disappointing state. The set-up was in a small enclosed and locked part of the forest. The fairies, hobbits and dragons were covered by overgrown vegetation and leaves. A lot were broken. The good thing was that the kids enjoyed walking through and finding all the figures and playing with them. And I was glad they did not notice our sad faces. This could have been such an amazing little fairyland.
Oh well, their coffee and muffins where delicious, and a lot of different art & craft shops added a bit to the quirky atmosphere. In the same area is also a tree top adventure park for older kids and adults. I am not able to comment on this part as we have not visited this section.
Anyway, it was not far to drive from our accommodation and all in all we still had a great day out. Maybe sometimes we must see things with the eyes of the children and perhaps we will appreciate a bit more.
But I would not recommend the park and certainly not forego a game drive to come here. We had enough time and as this was a more relaxing day on our itinerary we did not felt that we missed out on something else.
On the way home, we stopped at the famous Knysna heads viewpoint and saw a shark in the deep water circling around the rocks.
This section of The Garden Route with kids has so much on offer so that you could easily spend two weeks or more just here.
Also in the area which you may be interested in (not visited by us)
- Plett Puzzle Park, a life size 3-D Maze, a Forest Puzzle Walk through the natural forest and a fun Rope Maze for the kids
- Monkeyland Primate Sanctuary, the world’s first free roaming multi-specie primate sanctuary.
- Birds of Eden, the world's largest free flight aviary and bird sanctuary
If you liked the read head straight to part 3
Part 3 * 4 Days - South Africa with kids - Wild life encounter at the Eastern Cape Port Elizabeth
You may also like,
South Africa Tips & FAQ
- Top Tips for a successful Safari Game Drive with kids
- Tenikwa :: Wildlife Centre with Kids
- South Africa with kids FAQ and all you need to know for a successful family trip
- IMPORTANT, Check before travelling with children to South Africa
- Travel with young kids - what to consider
Itineraries & Road Trips
- 20 Day Road Trip Itinerary from Cape Town to Port Elizabeth
- Part 1 :: Garden Route road trip with Kids, Gansbaai & Hermanus
- Part 3 :: South Africa with kids , Eastern Cape, Safari & Wild life
- Part 4 :: Cape Town with kids