Easter Holidays are a great time of year to get away and with two weeks to play with, the sky is the limit. What’s more there are public holidays a plenty to save on precious days off work. Our favourite picks for Easter include South Africa, Yosemite, Morocco, Peru and Namibia.
Easter is one of our favourite times to visit South Africa. You catch the lovely early Autumn season in the Cape, and can take plenty of time to explore this magnificent country. The Kruger and KwazuluNatal are also good at this time of year with temperatures more manageable than over their summer. If you are thinking of doing Cape Town and the Garden Route, then this is the time.
Yosemite is simply out of this world, but during summer it is fair to say the Park can be a little over-run. Easter is a great time to visit, with those magnificent waterfalls thundering away with meltwater and the pick of the accommodation in the Valley usually still available. The Pacific Coast Highway comes into its element with plenty of sunshine and temperatures in the high teens and early 20s Celsius, perfect weather for exploring. International flights are usually cheaper than the summer too.
Easter is peak season in Marrakech and the Atlas Mountains. Balmy sunny weather is the norm, the Mountains are green and snow-capped and temperatures are warm enough to laze by the pool. Book early as flight prices for the Easter Holidays often double if you leave it too late.
With the hot season over, Easter is a great time to be in Namibia with less chance of rain and more benign temperatures. Two weeks is really a necessity for Namibia making this a perfect window to visit this magnificent country.
Another country demanding a two week trip, Peru is really only an option for families in the Summer and Easter holidays. The big advantage of Easter is that flights tend to be cheaper than August.
With Christmas past, it can be a fair old slog through January and February, so getting away somewhere warm and sunny for February Half Term is a very pleasant way to go about things. Most of us have only a week's holiday to play with, but with inset days and weekends, you can squeeze a 9 or 10 day holiday into February Half Term.
One of our favourite spots in February is Morocco (budget £500 - £1000 per family member including flights for one week) - a fantastic choice for families. Flight prices are very reasonable (usually in the £150 - £250 per person mark) and the weather is usually sunny and warm with temperatures around 20 Celsius in Marrakech and the Sahara and 15-18 Celsius in the Mountains (albeit with chilly nights). For relaxed winter sun Paradis Plage, Rebali Riads, Les Deux Tours and The Fellah Hotel all work wonderfully for families. One of our favourite holidays at this time of year is a fantastic but simple week combining a lovely atmospheric riad in Marrakech (think breakfast on the roof terrace with distant views of snow-capped mountains) with a mule supported trek in the Atlas Mountains amidst snow-capped peaks and traditional mud built Berber Villages (Family Atlas Mountain Trek & Marrakech Holiday). And of course the Sahara comes into its own with manageable temperatures, historic crumbling Kasbahs, camel rides into the sunset and camping under the stars (Luxury Family Desert Holiday).
Whilst South Africa (budget £1500 - £3000 per family member including flights for one to two weeks) easily demands 2 or more weeks of your time, Cape Town is an easy overnight flight from London if you are just looking to splurge on a wonderful February Half Term week. In addition to the cosmopolitan City there are gorgeous winelands and beaches nearby and some superb family friendly accommodation such as Hog Hollow and Grootbos.
February is peak season for safari in Kenya and Tanzania with fantastic weather and excellent wildlife (budget £1700-£3000 per family member including flights for one week). A week is more than ample for a first time or repeat safari. In Kenya, our Maasai Family Adventure fits perfectly into one week or you can combine 3 nights safari at the wonderful Laikipia Wilderness Camp with some beach & pool time on the Indian Ocean (Laikipia Wilderness Safari and Beach Holiday). On the Tanzanian Coast, spend a week at Sanctuary Saadani Safari Lodge which offers safari and snorkelling from an idyllic beach location.
KwaZuluNatal is rare in South Africa for offering high quality safari with a tropical coastline nearby so is perfect for safari and beach holidays with minimal transfers between. The Coast stretches North from Durban towards the Mozambique border and gets wilder the further North you head. Along the whole Coast there is strong surf, sheltered beaches are few and far between, only the resort towns such as Ballito and Umhlanga have life guards on duty in designated areas.
Heading North out of Durban, The Canelands beach hotel in Ballito is an excellent small boutique guesthouse where you can relax around the pool, enjoy tidal pools and surf on the beach, and explore the local shops and restaurants. If you are feeling active there is a good surf school nearby and in season it is possible to organise seafari boat tours out into the bay to see Humpback Whales. Ballito is also a good base for a day tip into Durban where you can explore the bustling Indian Market or head to the uShaka Marine World Ocean theme park, which boasts the highest water slide in the Southern hemisphere. This property has an excellent location and for children they will add a good quality inflatable mattresses with proper bedding in the evenings for the children. For older children, it may be worth taking two rooms which are in close proximity but they do not have inter-connecting rooms.
Still in Ballito is the prestigious golfing complex of Fairmont Zimbali which has an 18-hole golf course, separate upmarket homes and two properties on site. Zimbali Lodge is set back and has 76 rooms, one swimming pool and 3 dining options but you will have full access to the resort facilities. Zimbali Resort has 154 rooms, 2 swimming pools, access to the non-swimming beach and weekend children’s club. The Ballito beaches are a few minutes away, there is tennis and squash on site and full concierge facilities. This is a good choice for those who want more of a resort set up.
Umhlanga Rocks is another favoured South African holiday town which is closer to Durban and has a great beach. The Oyster Box is a five star hotel with 86 rooms with some lovely touches.The hotel offers beach service, a holiday children’s club, cinema and fitness centre. For children they offer a welcome backpack, child-friendly turn-downs, essential popcorn, sweets, soft drinks and the DVD library for in-room viewing, child-friendly menus and a baby-sitting service.
Heading further North, The Elephant Coast and Kosi Bay area has some superb beach and forest lodges, with the more remote location, options here tend towards the eco lodge principals rather than big resorts with lots of facilities. At the top end of the scale, Thonga Beach Lodge is one of favourite beach recommendations in South Africa, Rocktail Bay offers a great range of guided activities, whilst Amangwane is a fabulous rustic option with simple accommodation, community involvement, kayaking and excellent snorkelling.
July and August brings the school summer holidays, peak prices and crowds, but there are ways to beat the system. Flight prices tend to be cheaper for the last two weeks of August and it always pays to book early, with cheaper air fares and better availability if you book as early as December, January or February.
One of the greatest challenges facing families is the search for a holiday that makes mum and dad happy as well as the children. In any given family, somebody will want to be out surfing, another exploring cultural sites and the kids would be happy hanging by the pool all day, and of course you’ll want something that you can all do happily together.
In Croatia, the Dubrovnik Sun Gardens Hotel offers superb sporting facilities, pools and activities for the kids, a 10 minute boat transfer into beautiful Dubrovnik old town and the opportunity to explore the nearby Elaphiti Islands by Sea Kayak and snorkel. In Morocco, Rebali Riads offers the privacy of a villa, with on-site spa, a wild Atlantic beach, surfing lessons for the more active members of the family and one of Morocco’s most beautiful, charismatic and relaxed Cities, Essaouira, just 20 minutes’ drive away. Also in Morocco, Paradis Plage offers a more traditional beach resort but with a modern twist, with a superb surf school and yoga studio on site, beach cinema and atmospheric fire-pit.
Summer is the perfect time tackle a family adventure, with two or three weeks away, you can easily fit in two or three different sections, with time for adventure, relaxing and exploring.
Get a ring side seat for the Great Wildebeest Migration in the Masai Mara
Discover your inner bushman on an Out Of Africa adventure
Walk the Inca Trail and explore the Amazon Jungle
Paddle the crystal clear waters of the sparkling Adriatic Sea
Raft the Colorado River, clamber through slot canyons and witness some epic landscapes on a Grand American Adventure
Safari Holidays are, without doubt, a once in a life time experience. However (now don’t laugh at us please) they can also be quite hard work at times. Routine at the camps is fairly structured and rigid; rise at dawn (first call at 0400am), 4 hour game drive, followed by breakfast, relaxation time and then another 4 hour game drive late afternoon. Dinner is usually served at around 7.30pm. After a few days on safari your children (and you) will be ready for a change of pace and it can be very welcoming to kick back and relax. The question is, where to go and what to combine your safari with. Many people’s first choice is to request a beach resort where they can enjoy golden sand, snorkelling and a gentle pace of life. Here are our suggestions for the optimum beach extension for your holiday.
The exotic tropical island of Zanzibar lies in the Indian Ocean and enjoys miles of palm-fringed golden sandy beaches and beautiful clear waters. With a range of accommodation from simple beach lodges to private beach villas to five star resorts, this is the perfect place to relax, sun-bathe and snorkel. Diving is also excellent here, with some excellent coral formations. Other activities on offer include ocean excursions, spice farm tours, the Jozani Forest with a variety of primates and exploring the narrow cobbled streets of Stone Town, the capital, which is a UNESCO world heritage site.
The South Kenyan coast does have more development on it in the Mombasa area, but there are some hidden out of the way smaller gems, up in Lamu, for example. Access is frequent with scheduled light aircraft flights and airlines from all safari options, some via Nairobi.
The Tanzania coast is less developed with some great barefoot options; this is perfect for a couple of night’s pure relaxation with a few activities on offer. Access is frequent with scheduled light aircraft flights from all safari options, some via Dar es Salaam.
Mozambique has really only started to come back onto the map in the last 15 years with development starting in the south and growing from there. These lodges have a very similar operation to safari in some respects. It is generally simple to barefoot luxury lodges, with well-spaced individual ‘rooms’ onto the beach. One dining area with sometimes gathering in the evenings for cocktails and social meals. Diving is excellent and unspoilt. The focus is water sports and depending on the location some nearby historical visits particularly in the north or simple fishing villages. Generally these are quiet and relaxing resorts. There are two mid-size resorts which have more hotel style accommodations, one in the north and the other in the south.
Southern Mozambique has an excellent service from Johannesburg to Maputo, Vilanculos and Imhambane. In addition to this there is a flight from the Kruger to Vilanculos a couple of times a week. The capital Maputo is only a 3 hour drive from Kruger which is another gateway to a variety of beach destinations.
For Northern Mozambique, from Johannesburg there are regular flights to Pemba and Nampula. There are however excellent scheduled light aircraft connection from Tanzania and Kenya, enabling you to combine an East Africa safari with this.
Mauritius has a good selection of beach hotels but generally with a variety of pools and sun lounging spots on the properties. There are often good children’s clubs, tennis courts, spa facilities and wide variety of water sports. Usually a choice of dinning locations, beach and room service and evening entertainment. Focus here is really being in resort and just sitting back and relaxing, you can do a day trip into town and visit a nature reserve or take a day cruise.
From Kenya, there are 3 flights a week with good timings but you would need the night before in Nairobi which is no great hardship as there are many great things to do such as the Giraffe Sanctuary and Elephant Orphanage which gives great interaction.
From Johannesburg, there are 3 flights a weeks, again with good timings. There are very good value hotels in the airport complex, so you can make the most of the final day of your safari without having to rush to catch a flight.
Seychelles has a wonderful collection of granite and volcanic islands, great for staying at just one place but lends itself particularly well to island hopping. Accommodation ranges from simple Seychellois guest houses, medium-size hotels to five star resorts.
Sadly there are only flights from Johannesburg a couple of times a week which would work well with Southern African safaris.
There are many of the Middle Eastern airlines who are now flying in, and in some respects with the island hopping this would be a lovely two week holiday on its own.
KwaZulu Natal, on South Africa's Indian Ocean coastline has some wild stretches of beaches. We have a couple of lodges on the beach, offering a mixture of relaxation and safari-style activities. We can also arrange guest houses in close proximity to the beach and large resort hotels. The one thing to bear in mind with all South African beaches is that they are for the most part relatively strong currents but beautiful stretches of coast line.
This area is best reached by self-drive exploration of the surrounding area. The scheduled flights come in from Durban or Richards Bay from Johannesburg, plus connections into Durban from Cape Town, Port Elizabeth and even the Kruger.
Cape Town is not a ‘traditional’ beach consideration as accommodation on the beach is non-existent but due to the weather and variety of activities and lovely restaurants this can provide a lovely down time ending to a trip. Camps Bay has a lovely beach with trendy restaurants nearby but it is Atlantic Ocean. The Southern suburbs of Cape Town from Noordhoek to Muizenburg is Indian Ocean, St James beach even has a tidal pool, these beaches are more popular with locals and dining options although good, not as 'trendy' as Camps Bay for example. Guest houses, small boutique hotels and variety of larger hotels available. The one thing to bear in mind with all South African beaches is that they are for the most part relatively strong currents but beautiful stretches of coast line.
With regular Johannesburg flights this is easily accessed from Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Namibia. Same for the rest of South Africa such as Port Elizabeth, Durban and Kruger.
The Garden Route has lovely beaches all the way from Wilderness to Port Elizabeth, which is effectively the length of the route. Tends to be long stretches of coast line of Indian Ocean. No properties with direct access to the beach but lovely guest houses and hotels al along mostly with pools. The one thing to bear in mind with all South African beaches is that they are for the most part relatively strong currents but beautiful stretches of coast line.
Access from Cape Town, George and Port Elizabeth with an excellent domestic flight routing around South Africa.
Ok this is not the beach but after an intensive South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Zambia safari it is perfect stop to relax but still have lots to do. Brilliant safari style lodges generally on the Zambezi River with swimming pool and central dinning or a couple of hotel style resort.
Road and light aircraft flights off safari. Scheduled flights from Johannesburg, Namibia, Kenya and more coming in with the planned airport improvements.
Lake Malawi is a lake with beach like features, so we think this is a lovely option with some small properties, old fashioned resorts and barefoot luxury lodges.
A brilliant light aircraft flight from South Luangwa in Zambia. Kenya Airways flights from Nairobi, good regular flights from Johannesburg to both main hubs.#