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Forums Other Destination advice S Africa/Alternatives in November/December (young family)

  • squawk7700 79 posts

    To set the scene, I am a frequent traveller and my job has taken me to many corners of the World. However, I am soon to be a Dad for the first time, which is a bit of a game changer in terms of planning. I don’t want to become someone that opts for All Inclusive package holidays because it’s easier, I’d like to push the boat out as much as I can, but not at the expense of putting my new family through too much stress. And I certainly won’t gamble with their security.

    I currently have Avios seats to Cape Town for a fortnight in November (BA WTP using 2 x Barclays Upgrade vouchers). The idea was to spend a few days in the city and then drive the Garden Route which has always been on my list. However, a recent visit by a (very) well travelled friend has got me thinking seriously about potential security concerns and how comfortable I’d be with my wife and baby travelling around in a hire car. It’ll be babies first long haul holiday and circa 10 months old.

    Maybe you can convince me that he is wrong but in the meantime I’m pondering other options which permit a sense of adventure but won’t keep me awake at night with anxiety! I still want to burn my Avios and the Barclays vouchers, so I’m fairly set on BA long haul.

    I wondered whether anyone has taken a young family to Argentina for example? Or Brazil? Both would be new for me; the closest I’ve been previously is Chile.

    We love warm destinations and the occasional beach but generally prefer to road-trip and see plenty of nature. Costa Rica was one of our favourite recent holidays – much more up our street than say the Maldives. It’s a shame BA still doesn’t fly back to Bangkok, as I wouldn’t mind some more SE Asia!

    Any wise ideas or trip inspiration from others with young families?

    Biki 117 posts

    I went to Argentina at Christmas for 3 weeks and felt totally safe. We did a ferry to Uruguay for a few days, flew to Bariloche then Mendoza and enjoyed all of it.

    I Also went to Mexico City and then flew down to Oaxaca for a few days last April. A lot of people said how dangerous CDMX is, but we walked around the whole time and didn’t feel unsafe once.

    RS 13 posts

    Some different suggestions:

    We went to Kenya in August and it was both completely safe and stunning. We visited Masai Mara, Mt Kenya and Diani Beach. Whilst safari may be challenging with a young child, the other destinations provide the perfect mix of activity and relaxation. I have plenty of hotel recommendations as well. BA also fly LHR-NBO so you could use avios.

    Another more relaxing place to consider could be South India. With good BA connectivity to South Indian cities, you could easily go to Kerala and/or Goa which have nice warm weather at that time of year and again I have plenty of recommendations.

    Hope this was helpful

    qc 200 posts

    We have just been to ZA before Christmas and although there is crime there as there is everywhere including the UK. If you’re staying in mid level or nicer accommodation and travelling in Capetown, the wine lands and the Garden Route you will be perfectly ok. The only places we didn’t walk around after dark was Cape Town but Ubers are plentiful and cheap. If you wear an expensive watch don’t walk around smart parts of London like Chelsea or Kensington.

    We have been to Argentina and Brazil a couple of times and are going to Argentina again in a few days but there are parts of Rio and São Paulo that I wouldn’t walk around after dark.

    One consideration is what vaccinations if any are able to be given to a 10 month old baby. There is I believe Dengue fever in Buenos Aires. As well as taking personal mosquito repellant we have just ordered insect spray for the room as apparently shops there have sold out.

    JDB 4,336 posts

    Risk and perception of risk are very personal. Of the four countries mentioned here, Argentina feels to us the safest and we happily walk around BsAs or any city there late at night even though my wife is of a more nervous disposition than I am. Likewise in the historic centre of CDMX or areas like Polanco. We don’t walk around at night in Cape Town, partly because it is spookily quiet. We have been to Mexico, Argentina and South Africa with small children and have always felt very comfortable even though we know people who have had very bad experiences. We don’t feel comfortable at all in Rio or São Paulo but Chile and Uruguay all seem fine.


    @qc
    they have dengue fever and Chikungunya in the south of France! Have a great time in Argentina. The exchange rate gap official/MEP is getting better.

    Amy C 375 posts

    I’m doing CT and the garden route in 3.5 weeks. Have been to CT twice in past but not since 2016 and never the GR. What about your friend’s trip has given you cause for concern if you don’t mind me asking?

    I’d recommend Namibia. It’ll involve transiting Jo’berg but fits your requirements and is very safe. The scenery and animals are out of this world.

    Michael C 673 posts

    Congrats on the baby! We did Rio/Florianópolis at that exact age and it was great.

    I imagine the problem with SIN is availability? Because I agree that SEAsia with a little one
    would be perfect.

    Hope you’ve got your cabin-baggage sized YoYo pushchair! Travelling with the youngster is all a little more planning, but also no biggie.

    strickers 671 posts

    We did Cape Town and the Garden Route pre Covid and never once did we feel unsafe. But as @JDB says above risk and perceived risk are very personal, especially when you have children. Also as stated above by Michael (I really need to learn how to @ people with a space in their names) don’t underestimate how much ‘stuff’ you’ll need, it’s mind-boggling. But also take advantage of the benefits of traveling before the child is 2, it’s not only the amount of stuff that increases exponentially beyond this point, hence the appeal of the all inclusive holiday. Congrats also, the first 21 years are the worst, although I wouldn’t change a thing about my two.

    Michael C 673 posts

    We did Cape Town and the Garden Route pre Covid and never once did we feel unsafe. But as @JDB says above risk and perceived risk are very personal, especially when you have children. Also as stated above by Michael (I really need to learn how to @ people with a space in their names) don’t underestimate how much ‘stuff’ you’ll need, it’s mind-boggling. But also take advantage of the benefits of traveling before the child is 2, it’s not only the amount of stuff that increases exponentially beyond this point, hence the appeal of the all inclusive holiday. Congrats also, the first 21 years are the worst, although I wouldn’t change a thing about my two.

    Hope you and all your limbs are doing well, @Strickers – looking forward to end of trip debrief!

    strickers 671 posts

    Thanks Michael, starting to feel steady improvements now and stretching is making a big difference. Cambodia is best described as hot and flat, Choeung Ek today which is a must but not something to look forward to.

    The real Swiss Tony 652 posts

    Nearly 20 years back now but my wife and I took our then 9 or 10 month old to Singapore. He figured out how to crawl the day before we flew out – just saying…. As a location it was great – good public transport, loads of things to do that were appropriate for a baby and we found a great serviced apartment just off Orchard Road (more below).

    As others have said, don’t underestimate the amount of stuff you’ll be taking with you. I’d also advise you to keep everything flexible for as long as possible, incase by October you’re really wondering why you didn’t just opt for a week’s All Inclusive 😉

    One top tip is you probably also want to consider laundry facilities. Babies have an incredible ability to get through an unfathomable amount of clothes in a day, so on those early trips we always ensured we had access to a washing machine & drier.

    Lottie 31 posts

    We travelled a lot long haul before our son was two and didn’t have to pay for a seat. Favourites for us as a family were Sri Lanka, Vietnam, South India. All really child friendly .India can make good use of the companion voucher as a connecting airport as there is normally reasonable availability from some parts of it. We have been to Argentina and Chile more recently and felt totally safe.

    AJA 1,069 posts

    I think as you’ve already booked I would stick with the CT holiday. Just be aware of your surroundings and don’t blithely follow Sat Nav into Khayelitsha. It’s only a short section of the motorway and as long as you stay on the motorway you’ll be fine. Or take the motorway towards Bellville and Parow which will avoid the area completely.

    In the city itself I’d stay either at Camps Bay or at one of the hotels on the Victoria and Alfred waterfront.

    Certainly you need to be more wary at night than during the day but I think the main tourist spots you want to visit in CT are perfectly safe during the day. Not sure I’d go up the top of Table Mountain at night and I don’t think you can anyway.

    Also take a drive to Stellenbosch – it’s lovely.

    I feel CT is safer than Rio and wouldn’t hesitate to visit either city again.

    jek 111 posts

    I would not be concerned about security in CT, the Garden Route, or Wine Country very much. They are all great places and I would recommend sticking with it (although I would recommend taking the Wine Route – N62 instead of the Garden Route).

    What are your friend’s concerns or experiences? Maybe they were in a different area?

    HampshireHog 134 posts

    In SA you do need to dress down, avoid jewellery eg locals rarely wear watches, don’t walk at night in urban areas and behave as a local eg don’t brandish maps and be studying guide books in the street.
    You should adopt an extra level of care above many other destinations and also be aware that you will be having what feels like a first world holiday in a destination that often feels third world eg frequent power outages and informal settlements rubbing up against formerly white areas.
    We’ve travelled extensively in SA and have friends there and love it but be informed

    HampshireHog 134 posts

    I think as you’ve already booked I would stick with the CT holiday.

    I feel CT is safer than Rio and wouldn’t hesitate to visit either city again.

    Oh dear, I found Rio distinctly edgy and violence seemed just under the surface and only suppressed by a very heavy armed police presence on for instance Copacabana beach. Saying Cape Town is safer than Rio wouldn’t altogether reassure me!!

    Cal 10 posts

    We just got back from ZA with our 2 year old (first long haul holiday) having been 3 times previously as a couple. I was a bit more anxious about going this time because of the little one but we didn’t feel unsafe at any point and had a great time. We decided to avoid CT altogether this time, mainly because we’d done it before and there isn’t that much of interest to toddlers. We instead went straight to Stellenbosch, then Hermanus, and some game lodges on the way up and back from Plettenberg, where we stayed 4 nights (though if we did it again we would probably only go as far as Knysna). Like anywhere, don’t take risks by travelling at night etc if you don’t need to. Look at where the satnav is taking you around CT, and take the main airport approach road when leaving or returning to the airport rather than other N2 exits near the dodgy areas.

    AJA 1,069 posts

    @HampshireHogg I’m not sure what to say to you. OP is considering cancelling his SA trip and instead thinking about Brazil. You consider Rio unsafe. I say CT is safer than Rio. Therefore it seems to me that to go to Brazil he is jumping out of the frying pan into the fire. Hence my advice to stick with what he’s booked.

    squawk7700 79 posts

    Thanks so much everyone for your replies so far! It seems that maybe I was jumping to conclusions a little too soon based on my friend’s advice, and should have sought some wider opinions first (don’t worry, I’ve not cancelled my flights yet!). And thanks for the S America advice – even if it doesn’t get used this year then perhaps next year before the baby turns two.

    His main concerns were the worst case “what if” type scenarios ie baby sick in the night, leaving the hotel after dark in Cape Town to a pharmacy, that kinda thing. He also hired a car (with friends) and toured the coastal routes south of Cape Town and the vineyards, and mentioned not feeling overly safe when stopped at red lights, or when leaving the car etc. But I agree with some posters above, risk and perceived risk can be somewhat contrasting and if we took the FCO too seriously we wouldn’t leave our living rooms!

    My risk mitigation thus far is to:

    – Land in Cape Town, hire a car and immediately drive to Hermanus (being careful to only use the highway when leaving the airport)
    – Drive the Garden Route in stages, which I believe is pretty much as safe as anywhere?
    – Fly back to Cape Town from Port Elizabeth, and take an Uber to a downtown 5* hotel (VA Waterfront area most likely)
    – Visit the vineyards and Table Mountain etc using organised tours, rather than self-drive

    We just got back from ZA with our 2 year old (first long haul holiday) having been 3 times previously as a couple. I was a bit more anxious about going this time because of the little one but we didn’t feel unsafe at any point and had a great time.

    This is great to hear! Any specific recommendations would be much appreciated. I’ve been looking at the game reserves but struggling to decide which (if any) is worth visiting. We need one that accepts babies on game drives, and would prefer as “wild” as possible (fully appreciating that this is not Kruger!). Did you have a successful whale watching trip in Hermanus?

    I’m doing CT and the garden route in 3.5 weeks. Have been to CT twice in past but not since 2016 and never the GR. What about your friend’s trip has given you cause for concern if you don’t mind me asking?

    I’d recommend Namibia. It’ll involve transiting Jo’berg but fits your requirements and is very safe. The scenery and animals are out of this world.

    Hi Amy, hope you have an awesome trip! Would be very grateful if you could feedback afterwards any concerns or anything you would really recommend? Namibia is definitely on the to-do list, this time around though hoping not to have to plan any connecting flights as it’s our first long-haul with the baby.

    Amy C 375 posts

    Thanks so much everyone for your replies so far! It seems that maybe I was jumping to conclusions a little too soon based on my friend’s advice, and should have sought some wider opinions first (don’t worry, I’ve not cancelled my flights yet!). And thanks for the S America advice – even if it doesn’t get used this year then perhaps next year before the baby turns two.

    His main concerns were the worst case “what if” type scenarios ie baby sick in the night, leaving the hotel after dark in Cape Town to a pharmacy, that kinda thing. He also hired a car (with friends) and toured the coastal routes south of Cape Town and the vineyards, and mentioned not feeling overly safe when stopped at red lights, or when leaving the car etc. But I agree with some posters above, risk and perceived risk can be somewhat contrasting and if we took the FCO too seriously we wouldn’t leave our living rooms!

    My risk mitigation thus far is to:

    – Land in Cape Town, hire a car and immediately drive to Hermanus (being careful to only use the highway when leaving the airport)
    – Drive the Garden Route in stages, which I believe is pretty much as safe as anywhere?
    – Fly back to Cape Town from Port Elizabeth, and take an Uber to a downtown 5* hotel (VA Waterfront area most likely)
    – Visit the vineyards and Table Mountain etc using organised tours, rather than self-drive

    We just got back from ZA with our 2 year old (first long haul holiday) having been 3 times previously as a couple. I was a bit more anxious about going this time because of the little one but we didn’t feel unsafe at any point and had a great time.

    This is great to hear! Any specific recommendations would be much appreciated. I’ve been looking at the game reserves but struggling to decide which (if any) is worth visiting. We need one that accepts babies on game drives, and would prefer as “wild” as possible (fully appreciating that this is not Kruger!). Did you have a successful whale watching trip in Hermanus?

    I’m doing CT and the garden route in 3.5 weeks. Have been to CT twice in past but not since 2016 and never the GR. What about your friend’s trip has given you cause for concern if you don’t mind me asking?

    I’d recommend Namibia. It’ll involve transiting Jo’berg but fits your requirements and is very safe. The scenery and animals are out of this world.

    Hi Amy, hope you have an awesome trip! Would be very grateful if you could feedback afterwards any concerns or anything you would really recommend? Namibia is definitely on the to-do list, this time around though hoping not to have to plan any connecting flights as it’s our first long-haul with the baby.

    Will be happy to, do nudge me if I forget! My OH hasn’t been before and has almost cancelled on me twice as he’s convinced we will be car jacked, murdered, robbed etc the second we leave the baggage carousel. I hope his faith in my insistence we’ll be fine is justified. Incidentally I also felt very safe in Rio and am going again in May. Should I return alive at the end of February I shall update you accordingly. If I don’t, assume the worst 😬

    HampshireHog 134 posts

    @HampshireHogg I’m not sure what to say to you. OP is considering cancelling his SA trip and instead thinking about Brazil. You consider Rio unsafe. I say CT is safer than Rio. Therefore it seems to me that to go to Brazil he is jumping out of the frying pan into the fire. Hence my advice to stick with what he’s booked.

    For the avoidance of doubt, I agree. I was saying that to say anywhere is better than Rio isn’t much of a reassurance. I’ve always found Cape Town fine safety wise and walked it on a evening with some care

    Random Punter 10 posts

    Everyone’s views are different, but personally I think you’d be insane to go to SA on a first LH with a small baby. It isn’t just about the safety of SA, it’s that you have no idea how much your lives are about to change (no-one does – we assumed that baby would just slot in to our lives and travel – it turned out he had a different agenda). We went to DXB when ours was that age and it was stressful enough (and we are likewise confident regular adventurous travellers). It’s the things you don’t think about, like having to try to find a doctor because baby is dehydrated because of the heat / change in diet and environment, or having to find a pharmacy to get calpol at night etc. Or indeed just needing to find a safe air conditioned place to sit for a while because baby is tired or hungry and freaking out. All suddenly stressful in an alien environment and much worse in somewhere like SA where you have personal safety concerns on top. Go to SIN or HKG or somewhere where you can just pop to a mall easily and not have to worry.

    FH2 81 posts

    Everyone’s views are different, but personally I think you’d be insane to go to SA on a first LH with a small baby. It isn’t just about the safety of SA, it’s that you have no idea how much your lives are about to change (no-one does – we assumed that baby would just slot in to our lives and travel – it turned out he had a different agenda). We went to DXB when ours was that age and it was stressful enough (and we are likewise confident regular adventurous travellers). It’s the things you don’t think about, like having to try to find a doctor because baby is dehydrated because of the heat / change in diet and environment, or having to find a pharmacy to get calpol at night etc. Or indeed just needing to find a safe air conditioned place to sit for a while because baby is tired or hungry and freaking out. All suddenly stressful in an alien environment and much worse in somewhere like SA where you have personal safety concerns on top. Go to SIN or HKG or somewhere where you can just pop to a mall easily and not have to worry.

    I agree. When our kids were babies we went for the easier options such as Dubai, all-inclusive in Mexico, Sharm, which meant that we parents were able to relax a bit as we were exhausted new parents! Now that the kids are older, we have started to have more adventurous trips such as safari in Kenya, Azores, this year will be SIN, Bali, Lombok, which means that the kids are old enough to appreciate and enjoy the adventure too.

    Random Punter 10 posts

    PS: I should have also said congratulations, and it is wonderful and magical having a small person in your lives. It just makes travel a bit more challenging!

    NorthernLass 7,490 posts

    I also found travelling with a young child extremely arduous after years of travelling as a couple. It’s effectively looking after your child somewhere else, rather than a holiday! In the end I just gave in and went with what he wanted to do until he was old enough not to need watching/entertaining the whole time. So it was many years before we had a day just relaxing on the beach 😂

    But it does depend to some extent on your child’s personality, there are plenty of people who take babies and toddlers on adventurous trips and they just seem to slot into their lifestyles!

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