fun things to do with kids in south africa   Travel for Kids

South Africa

South Africa is teeming with so many creatures it would be hard for kids not to experience a close encounter – from a swim with penguins at the Cape of Good Hope to the town of St. Lucia with hippos roaming the streets. Family-friendly safaris abound in all corners of the country and South African hospitality towards kids is genuine and personal, especially in guesthouses and game lodges.
Before you go on your trip, learn about the South African natural world to help children appreciate the animals you'll see. From majestic lions and Cape buffalo to the tiny dung beetle, South Africa’s creatures are abundant and revered.
    Western Cape
Cape Town
    Eastern Cape
    Limpopo & Mpumalanga – Kruger National Park
    Tip: You can rent a car and drive around South Africa, the highways are good. However, a South African parent writes that it's best to use designated rest stops and if you have to stop at a lonely spot at the side of the road for children to pee, don't dawdle. Another option to self-driving is to hire a tour guide who will take you all over the country in a van.

Fun food


Hand pies are typical South African fast food that can be picked up at most any fuel stop or farm stall. They are a variation of hot, British meat pies, with gravy or curry, and come in a variety of meat options including local wild game, in addition to beef and lamb. Or for a great snack, try biltong. Incredibly popular in South Africa, it's like beef jerky, only better, and comes in varieties such as ostrich and kudu.

family tours south africa

South Africa is a fantastic cultural and nature experience that will stay with your kids forever. Whether it's swimming with penguins in Cape Town, a bicycle tour of Soweto, eating a traditional braai dinner, or going on safari to track the big 5, having private guides is a real plus. Here's our editor's choice for family tour companies that will design a custom itinerary or tour with other families:

    Quivertree Family Expeditions
    Thomson Family Adventures
    Wildland Adventures
kids books south africa
The White Giraffe - south africa kids adventure
The White Giraffe
Lauren St. John

Martine comes to live with her grandmother on a game reserve in South Africa. In legend, a child who can ride a white giraffe will have power over all the animals, but no one has seen it.  Drawn to the bush, Martine discovers the white giraffe and a secret valley.  (Chapter book)



Go on safari to look for lion, elephant, leopard, zebra, giraffe, kudu, baboons, and white rhino. Assemble the eight different safari animals and set them up in a stunning diorama! (Activity book)


kids safari wildlife south africa The Field Guide to Safari Animals
Safari in South Africa kids books  
Safari in South Africa
Amanda Lumry, Laura Hurwitz, Sarah McIntyre

Young Riley and Alice head to South Africa to track baby animals in the wild – cheetah, nyalas, baboons, giraffes, black and white rhinos, bushbabies, leopards, and more. Super photographs of all the animals. (Picture book)


My Painted House, My Friendly Chicken, and Me
Maya Angelou, Margaret Courtney-Clarke

Poetic photo story of children in a Ndebele village –  painting colorful house designs, listening to mothers' stories as they string and sew, changing colorful beaded clothing for uniforms to wear to school, and a good friend, the chicken.  Irresistible! (Picture book)


south africa kids poetry My Painted House, My Friendly Chicken, and Me
The Gift of the Sun south africa childrens books  
The Gift of the Sun
Dianne Stewart, Jude Daly

Thulani exchanges the family cow for a goat, then a sheep, geese, and finally sunflower seeds that like to bask in the sun, just like Thulani. But when the sunflowers drop their seeds, which Thulani collects and feeds to the hens ... everything changes. Charming illustrations of rural South African life. (Picture book)


The Viper's Nest
Peter Larangis

Amy and Jack land in Pretoria on the trail Shaka Zulu and a hidden message from Winston Churchill in an abandoned mine shaft. In book seven, will Amy and Jack find the real burial place of Shaka Zulu and the next clue?  (Chapter book)


The Viper's Nest adventure kids south africa
nelson mandela  
Nelson Mandela
Kadir Nelson

Striking picture biography of Nelson Mandela, who changed South Africa. He grew up a traditional Xhosa village, fought against apartheid, spent twenty seven years in prison, and became South Africa's first black president. (Picture book)

And for older kids, Who Was Nelson Mandela? and Nelson Mandela: "No Easy Walk to Freedom" chapter books.


Living in ... South Africa
Chloe Perkins, Tom Woolley

Kids can read for themselves about South Africa, home to fifty million people with many different cultural backgrounds. Spend the day with David, meet his family, go to school, find out about landscape and cities, learn about the history of South Africa and apartheid, play rugby and eat typical South African food.
(Easy reader)


Spotlight on South Africa country facts kids  

Get to know the people and places of South Africa – there are eleven different languages spoken. Fun facts about city and country life, landscape, animals, history and culture.(Picture book)


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