1) ENJOY THE GREAT OUTDOORSThe Kirstenbosch botanical gardens are not just a pretty place to picnic with the kids. They also offer free guided tours, and tadpole-filled streams to explore. Most people find a spot on the grass and soak in the beauty of the flowers but with a little effort, the kids can have a major adventure.
The “Boomslang” canopy walkway also offers a different perspective on the vegetation.
WHERE: Rhodes Drive, Newlands Avenue.
WHEN: 8am to 7pm during summer.
COST: Adults 60, kids R15.
CONTACT: Call 021-799-8783
2) SWING IT
Acrobranch is a real gem for anyone who wants to have good, clean fun out in nature with the children – and still have a bit of an adrenaline rush.
It offers three different zip-line and swinging bridge obstacle courses that take you among the beautiful trees of the slopes that connect Constantia to Hout Bay. The word “obstacle” is probably a bit strong and might make you feel like you’re back in veldskool – but this is actually a very controlled environment with lots of safety mechanisms in place. In other words, it is mainstream, not extreme.
The adrenaline rush is more for the parents who can choose the “blue course”, which takes you to quite a height. Even children of age 3 can join in the fun.
WHERE: 1 Hout Bay Main Road, Constantia Nek.
WHEN: Open 8.30am to 5pm, 2-hour duration.
COST: R100 – R180.
CONTACT: 021-201-1121 or see acrobranch.co.za.
Cinderella is an oldie but a goodie. This classic tale about the poor stepdaughter who (almost) gets left behind when her hideous step-siblings – replete with fat feet, warts and garish dresses – head off to the ball, will be on at the Baxter Theatre Centre during the holidays. Expect lots of audience participation and some familiar songs by the likes of Justin Bieber, Bruno Mars, Justin Timberlake and Roxette.
WHERE: Main Road, Rondebosch.
WHEN: December 19 – 24, 10.30am.
CONTACT: Call 021-685-7880
4) HIKE TO THE ELEPHANT’S EYE
Just don’t mention that it’s a “hike” to the children. Rather tell them it is a pleasant walk up to an amazing cave – which it is.
Of course, it is uphill and it can get very hot in December, but this exquisite walk in the Silvermine Nature Reserve can easily be done by children who have sunblock, hats, water, and parents who can encourage them to spot different flowers, bribe them with Smarties, and keep mentioning the cave waiting at the top. Once back down, take a swim at the Silvermine dam.
WHERE: Start at Silvermine, which is just off Ou Kaapse Weg coming from Cape Town side.
WHEN: Opens in summer at 7am and closes at 6pm but exit is by 7pm.
COST: Conservation fees R25 adult, R10 child, free for Wild Card holders.
CONTACT: 021-780-9002 .
5) RIDE THE CHOO-CHOO
The Ceres steam train is a gorgeous old locomotive which offers parents and children a thrilling journey through the scenic Ceres Valley.
During the week, diesel locomotives transport fruit and other produce between Ceres and the Mother City but, come the weekend, the steam trains and tourists get to play and have a taste of transport from 100 years ago.
In-between the ride there and the ride back is a beautiful day out in the small towns of the Western Cape’s more rural areas. The train mainly runs above Michell’s Pass road, which means it gives passengers an entirely different view (replete with majestic rock formations) one would not get from the window of a car.
WHERE: Cape Town to Ceres.
WHEN: Twice a month at 7.30am to 6.30pm.
COST: R400 one-way for adults, R250 for under-12s, free for under 2s.