South Africa with Kids
:: Garden route Road trip
4 Days- Wild life encounter at the Eastern Cape Port Elizabeth
This is part three of four, featuring a 20-day road trip itinerary in South Africa with kids. I have split the 20 days into 4 area sections to make it easier for you to find what information you exactly need for your travels in South Africa with kids.If this is your first time to South Africa you might want to read our FAQ & MORE.
Read part 1, 2 and 4 to get the full itinerary, see below
Part 1 * 5 Days – South Africa Garden Route road trip with kids - Whale watching in Hermanus Gansbaai & more
Part 2 * 6 Days – South Africa along The Garden Route with kids– Knysna & Plett area
Part 4 * 5 Days - Cape Town with kids
Read our full itinerary list Part 1-4
Enjoy South Africa with kids -Wild life encounter at the Eastern Cape Port Elizabeth
Day 12 – 16 :: Port Elizabeth Area
We drove further east to Port Elizabeth and left the Garden Route. As we passed the amazing Tsitsikama National Park we planned to stop at Storms River Mouth for a hike to the famous suspension bridges but when we drove down to the park entry gate the mist was so thick that we decided to change our plans and carried on driving. We agreed to stop on the return trip to Cape Town no matter what the weather. This whole area was very badly affected by the recent fires which occurred just a month before our arrival and in some places we could still see smoke rising on the horizon. Sad to see such a large area destroyed.
What to see along the road:
When you enter the Tsitsikamma National Park area there is a toll road of 50.50 Rand.
- Stop at the bungy jumping bridge viewpoint. There is a parking area with a viewing platform and you may see someone jumping.
- Storm Rivers Village is a pretty adventure driven village with nice coffee shops, restaurants and lots of adventure activity shops.
- Visit Storm River Mouth and the amazing National Park. Entry fee applicable. Apart from the suspension bridges there is also a walk along the coast to a waterfall with some swimming pools. Sports shops offer guided kayak-tours along the river mouth under the suspension bridges and in to the gorge below the cliffs.
If you fancy to stay in the park there are different accommodation options on offer. Depending a bit on your plans it would maybe be a nice place to spend the night. There is so much to do in South Africa with Kids, that it is difficult to choose the right activities and the right areas to visit.
Finally, we arrived in Port Elizabeth and it was a bit a shock to be honest. Well perhaps we should have researched a bit more as it is a massive port and an industrial city.
Our accommodation was right at the Summerstrand. We felt it would be great to just walk to the beach with the kids and have a bit of relaxing time. I guessed it would have been ok, but we just did not connect with the place at all and then it was quite difficult to see the positives.
I want to be honest with you, don’t stay in Port Elizabeth if you do not have to. I will write another post about spending a good day in PE as it is possible but if you can choose, stay away from it.
We had a stroll at the beach, collected some more shells and went for dinner at “Something Good” a great place by the beach with a massive play area, a kiddie’s bike track and great food. My son was in awe as he missed his bike so much and there were 2 bikes he was able to use and drive around the track. He was a happy boy.
Day 13 – Addo Elephant Park
The reason why we decided to make it all the way over to the Port Elizabeth area was for the Addo Elephant Park. On our previous visit we stayed in the Park for four days and absolutely loved it. With the kids we felt a one-day visit will be enough.
We entered the park at the South Gate and made our way north through the park to the Main Lodge and Bush accommodation.
You need to understand that the Addo is large, and it is possible to drive for a day and not see much at all. Thick bushes sometimes obscure the view for self-drive tourists and as you have to stay on the designated roads you do need a bit of a trained eye to spot the game. But this is what we love about self-drive game viewing, to spot the wildlife that is so greatly camouflaged within the wild nature.
Only, with two three year olds in the back, this might not be the perfect family activity. (smile) The kids were allowed to sit with us in front as you are only really driving 20km/h and as we knew the park from previous visits we went straight along the roads where last time most of the game was spotted. Actually, when thinking now, did we really think they might still be there after all these years.
We spotted a few different animals and had fun observing the zebras and looking for tortoises. There are some designated fenced in picnic areas with toilet facilities which came in handy. The kids were chasing some birds and we asked some other tourists what they had seen so far and where. The tip came that at the large waterhole by the Hapoor Dam a large herd of elephants are bathing. We remembered this area, headed straight there after our little break. A good choice.
After one hour we left the place as our two toddlers started, understandably, to get bored, even very bored. We went north to the main gate entry where you will find a restaurant and a food/souvenir shop plus a petrol station, which might be handy. After an ice cream and some running around we headed back to the waterhole, but 1st made a small detour. A tip, when you self-drive in a game park always have a look if you can see some cars or game viewing vehicles stopped on the road as there might be something interesting to be seen. We spotted some cars further along and went to have a look. Two lions under a tree about 300m away! No nothing to get too excited about as even with our very good binoculars we could just about identify one lion lying on his back and every so often his leg twitched. Now this was completely pointless to try and explain the location to the twins so we headed back to the elephants at the waterhole.
It was still an amazing scene to observe as the elephants arrived, interacted, bathed and departed. So great that the kids fell asleep. Bless them.
Day 14 – Beach and moving accommodation
We had made the decision to switch accommodation, as we were not so happy with our pre-booked apartment. This is something which I strongly encourage you to do if you’re not happy with something you have booked, do something about it and make it better. Holidays are so precious and everything needs to be perfect.
The decision to move was made quite quickly after having checked-in. Different reasons, no need to go in to detail, but we looked for an alternative, spoke to the owner, got a partial refund and found an amazing NEW HOME. Yes this was our base. I do highly recommend to stay here (not affiliated advice). It is perfect for all we visited in the Eastern Cape area.
As we were to leave Port Elizabeth we still wanted to give it a chance and so we decided to spend the morning at the Nelson Mandela beach, building sand castles and looking to find even more shells to add to the collection. As it was Sunday the beach was quite lively with locals and lots of kids jumping in and out of the cold water. I was amazed how they are used to the water temperature even though it is now the Indian Ocean. Still cold though, so for us it was just a paddle. We had a delicious lunch in the Indian restaurant in the Boardwalk Hotel complex opposite the beach and the kids were treated to a couple of rides on the different attractions.
We then moved to our new accommodation which was 30 min away and we were in total awe when we arrived. Why had we not found this place before? The Hopewell Estate was like we have taken a plane and flown away from Port Elizabeth. It could not have been more perfect and what we needed.
The house was amazing, huge, new and we were overlooking the amazing bush panorama. We explored the estate with a little morning walk and just relaxed at this amazing place. A very nice place to spend the night. Definitely recommend to make this place your base when visiting Eastern Cape.
Day 15– Kragga Kamma Game Park
A very lazy morning with a great breakfast and a late check out, was the perfect start for another great day.
We were quite excited about Kragga Kamma. Reviews are either you like it or you hate it. As we’re travelling with young kids and this place pretty much guarantees game viewing within only a few minutes of entering the park, we figured that this must be perfect for the kids.
The park offers accommodation and we booked the Rhino Lodge.
Within 30min from Port Elizabeth, on lush coastal forest and grassland Kragga Kamma provides a home to herds of African game, including White Rhino, Buffalo, Cheetah, Giraffe, Zebra, Nyala, Bontebok, Lechwe and many more species. All the animals roam freely, unrestricted in natural surroundings even between the accommodation.
No hunting or other disturbance of the game is permitted, which means that you always get close up views and great photo opportunities.
We were able to drive in our own vehicle through the park (no need for 4x4) whenever we wanted. But the best feature was the upstairs balcony from our lodge which provided a nice view over the “savanna” and the game. The kids were playing and drawing, whilst we enjoyed the sunset and the animals.
We even had the Rhinos passing in front of the lodge and during the night the Buffalo heard was looking for fresh grass behind the lodge. It was quite creepy when I wanted to check what the noise was, and their staring eyes were illuminated by the torch beam. Amazingly scary.
Behind the Lodge is a high-walkway which passed above the cheetah enclosure and over to the restaurant and the play area which was a great extra for the kids.
I certainly recommend this place when travelling south Africa with kids. I don’t care what some of the reviews say, it is perfect.
Day 16 - back to Cape Town with an overnight at Mosselbay and a visit at Tsitsikama National Park
Tsitsikamma National Park
Sadly, we have to think about getting slowly but surely back to Cape Town as our amazing trip is coming soon to an end. It is a very long drive in one go to Cape Town, this is why we cut it into two and overnighted at Mosselbay which was four hours’ drive.
Half way was Tsisikamma National Park which we had given a miss on the way over due to bad weather.
This time we went for it. You have to pay an entry fee, I guess you realised by now that every attraction has an entry fee. The park is tucked between the mountains and the sea, offers beautiful forests, plentiful accommodation including camping and numerous exciting activities. As we’re only here for the day our focus point was the Suspension Bridge Walk. The pathway leading to the suspension bridges covers only 900 meters and is mostly in the forest offering every so often a window with a view down to the water.
There are plenty of steps to negotiate, some of which were quite a climb for the kids, but it remains a fairly easy route.
We were lucky, as there where not that many people visiting and it gave us the possibility of being alone on the bridges. The kids loved running up and down and making them wobble.
On the far side is this small stony beach, see photo below, with large pebbles and amazing driftwood. We spent quite some time over there playing and just enjoying the nature. From this beach if you like you can hike up to another viewpoint.
This whole environment is so beautiful and not to be missed.
We still had a minimum of two hours’ drive to Mosselbay for our overnight location.
Also in the area which you may be interested in (not visited by us this time)
- Climb the Alexandria Sand Dunes in Colchester
If you enjoyed it carry on reading Part 4.
Part 4 * 5 Days - Cape Town with kids
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