We’ve made it through the winter solstice, which means that we can soon look forward to longer and warmer days as summer returns to the Southern Hemisphere.

Fortunately, school holidays are perfectly timed with the change of season, allowing for some much needed family time.

Check out Thompsons Travel’s top local family getaway destinations and experiences you may not have known about:

Limpopo

Forget Jurassic Park and Ice Age, our very own Limpopo Province’s Waterberg district offers it all – minus the genetically engineered live dinosaurs and a crazy sloth of course.

For some pre-historic family fun, head to Pafuri Wilderness Camp and join their game rangers for an exploration of Stone Age axes and unexcavated dinosaur fossils.  Also up north, Mapungubwe National Park is known to be the pre-historic home of a prosperous Iron Age community which eventually met its fate in what is believed to be a mini Ice Age. Evidence of the community, can be viewed at an interpretation centre.

The Waterberg region is also home to the UNESCO Waterberg Biosphere Reserve. The reserve is known to be the only savannah biosphere reserve in Southern Africa and is home to a diverse range of plant and animal life, ancient rock formations dating back millions of years as well-preserved San rock art sites.

For a unique opportunity to get as close as possible to Cape vultures, make your way to Marakele National Park, which is believed to be the home of the largest colony of this endangered vulture species.

Cape Town

If you can drag yourself away from staring at the “mountain” for long enough, why not take the family out for a round of mini-golf with a difference? Located at The Gallery in Milnerton, you will find South Africa’s first Glowing Rooms 3D glow-in-the-dark 18-hole mini-golf course. At R180 per person not only is mini-golf much more fun, but through wearing the supplied 3D glasses it will feel as if you are playing mini-golf in outer space.

Enjoy movie nights with a difference at the Galileo Open- Air Cinema, where movies, markets, music and outdoor activities create a memorable family experience. The cinema is open weekly from Tuesday to Sunday in different locations. Space is normally limited and early booking is advised and can be done online by visiting www.thegalileo.co.za.

Freewheel down Signal Hill and Table Mountain and take in its various sights and sounds by taking a scooter tour through Scootours Cape Town. Daily slots are available at 09h00, 12h00 and 15h00 which are led by experienced guides. Little ones who have not quite yet mastered the technique of riding a bicycle are welcome to hop on with mom or dad.

Durban

Ahoy matey! Dramatic tales, amazing voyages and inspiring maritime collections await at the Port Natal Maritime Museum. Among the many exhibits on display at the museum is the The NCS Challenger.

The small 5.8 metre yacht was skippered by Anthony Steward in his journey around the world. He started in 1991, travelled 22 890 nautical miles, and became the first person to sail around the world in an open boat. Also take a closer look at the JR More. What makes this exhibition unique is that an audio-guided tour is available of this steam tug. Visitors can explore the tug at their leisure while gaining an understanding just how this vessel operates.

Located at Durban’s Beachfront, Mini Town is a must see for kids and curious adults. The town features models of some of Durban’s famous landmarks and interesting buildings all reaching just above knee-height.

Children can look forward to view the rail network featuring moving trains, get a better view of the airport with model planes strategically placed as well as the harbour display featuring a ship and tug travelling around the harbour.

Candy floss, ice cream and ride hopping. Welcome to Fun World where even parents don’t have to act like grown-ups. Situated near the beachfront on the promenade, Fun World features fifteen rides, including the aerial cableway running parallel to the beach, and the Swing Boat which is not to be missed. Fun World is a great way to combine a day at the beach with some adventurous fun.

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