Family Travel: 'Where can we self-cater in South Africa?'
Saturday 11 October 2008
Q. We're hoping to spend February half-term in South Africa with our three children. Finding a suitable accommodation for the five of us often proves tricky, so we're thinking of self-catering. Can you recommend anywhere suitable – comfortable but not too expensive – in Cape Town, and possibly in a game reserve or national park? D Lynes, via email
A. Thankfully, Cape Town has a wide selection of good- value self-catering accommodation, ranging from modest suburban homes to swanky ocean-view apartments. And with South Africa's superior larder from which to select and cook your meals, self-catering can be a preferable way to stay in the city.
In the national parks and game reserves the safari-villa concept is also one that is spreading, but the disparity between luxury and rusticity is still wide. You might find that a short safari, with food, drink and game drives included, is preferable to lugging your own provisions to a self-catering property.
Cape Stay ( capestay.co.za) is an online directory of hundreds of short-term rentals, listing villas, cottages, houses and apartments in the Western Cape. Owners list their properties on the site, and you contact them directly to make the booking.
At the higher end of the scale, 4 Bayview Terrace (00 27 21 421 2300) is a modern cottage sleeping six in the trendy and central De Waterkant Village. The cottage is R3,200 (£211) per night in February, and comes with a garden terrace, plunge pool and panoramic views, chic interiors and air-con.
Also listed on Cape Stay are Lemon Tree Cottages (00 27 82 415 8012), located at Devil's Peak on the slopes of Table Mountain. One has two double bedrooms and a sofa-bed in the lounge. It comes with a garden and barbecue for a nightly price in February of R960 (£63).
If you're after sea views, the Waterfront Village (0808 238 0055; waterfrontvillage. com) is hard to beat. The marina development is in the heart of the V&A Waterfront, with serviced apartments that offer the service of a hotel with the flexibility of self-catering. The luxurious apartments come with lovely canal or harbour views. Rental of a family apartment in February costs R3,050 (£200) per night. Facilities include three pools, gym and spa, and a breakfast café .
City life is easily balanced with some wilderness since there are a handful of game reserves within a couple of hours' drive of Cape Town. One of the closest reserves is Fairy Glen (00 27 21 423 3266; fairyglen.co.za), near Worcester. A 90-minute drive north-east through the winelands, the reserve is at the foot of the Brandwacht Mountains, and is home to a wealth of wildlife, including cats, elephants and rhinos. Overnight safaris in the chalets cost from R1,600 (£106) per adult, half- price for under 12s, which includes a nature drive and walk with a ranger, a three-hour safari, breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Also just over an hour's drive of the city is Aquila (00 27 21 421 4998; aquilasafari.com), which has won awards for its wildlife conservation and safari experience. Overnight safaris start at R1,990 (£131) per person full board, including two game drives and a visit to the Khoi-San rock-art sites.
For a longer stay, Kruger National Park, in the north-east, has self-catering "rest camps". Berg-en-Dal (00 27 12 428 9111; sanparks. org), for example, has family bungalows that sleep up to six in two bedrooms with a pull-out bed in the lounge, air-con and fully equipped kitchens. Rental starts at R1,190 (£79) per night, excluding fees and game drives.
Send family travel queries to The Independent Parent, Travel Desk, 'The Independent', 191 Marsh Wall, London E14 9RS; or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
My holiday in Morocco By Freya Edwards, aged 9
What I did
I walked around the souks, went swimming in rivers, went on a camel trek in the Atlas mountains and a walking trek. I also went in a hammam, which is a steam room where you wash then jump in a freezing cold bath. I went to a village in the mountains where at least 15 people live in each house and there is no electricity. The people that live there are called Berbers. Animals live in the houses, too.
What I liked
In Marrakech I liked the souks, which are little markets. I liked all the cats in the streets and I also liked swimming under waterfalls outside the city.
What I ate
I ate a lot of couscous with vegetables and lamb tagine, which is a stew in a funny-shaped pot. I also had yummy Turkish delight and mint tea.
Freya wins a £15 book token. National Book Tokens are sold and accepted in all UK bookshops
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