African Safari for Families with Teenagers: History, Culture & Adventure

A 9 day trip to South Africa 
4.93 out of 5 stars
405 reviews

Share a remarkable journey through Africa with your family of teenagers on this 9-day tour of Cape Town, Johannesburg and the exclusive Sabi Sands Private Game Reserve. Learn first about South Africa’s pulsing history as you visit the landmarks surrounding Table Mountain, Robben Island and Soweto. Then, move out into the bush for the adventure of a lifetime - a South Africa safari! Follow lions, leopards and rhinos through the raw and untrammeled bush. 

Coupled with moments of sheer indulgence from some of South Africa’s most prized lodges, this trip will expose your family to the full magic and wonder of the continent. 

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Most tours are customized for private travel.

General Information

Cape Town waterfront overlooked by Table Mountain
Detailed Itinerary

Places Visited 

Cape Town, Sabi Sands Private Game Reserve, Robben Island, Johannesburg  

Departure Dates 

Dates are flexible and customizable for private departures.

Detailed Itinerary 

Day 1: Welcome to South Africa! Touch Down in Cape Town and Drive to the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront’s One&Only

As the plateau of Table Mountain becomes visible outside the window, you will know that you are nearly at your final destination: Cape Town. Upon touching down in this famous city, you need only collect your baggage before you meet your driver.  Together you will drive past the picturesque University of Cape Town and towards the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront where the One&Only Cape Town is located. Champagne and a warm hand towel will instantly refresh you as you check in, reinvigorating your senses after a long day of travel.

After unpacking, take a spin around the expansive One&Only property built over the city’s estuary. Excited teenagers may enjoy hopping on a paddleboard and joining local Capetonians as they paddle the rivers for some afternoon exercise. Other family members may prefer to take a relaxing soak, steam or full treatment at the island spa. Given the travel and time change, tonight may be the perfect time to explore one of the hotel’s two world-class restaurants: Reuben’s or Nobu. Serving classic South African fare or Japanese cuisine respectively, both restaurants will make for an effortless yet delicious introduction to the Cape Town culinary scene.

Day 2: Jump on the Hop On-Hop Off Bus for an Effortless Tour of Cape Town

The following two days in Cape Town will ultimately be yours to design. For families that prefer structured activities, we will gladly organize private tours of favorite areas, while others may prefer some freedom to explore. The following are some of our recommendations for destinations and activities for teenage-filled families.

One of the easiest ways to independently explore Cape Town is to purchase a ticket for the Hop-On Hop-Off city sightseeing bus. The ticket office and launching point for the tour is conveniently located just outside the One& Only, and departs every 20 minutes. Review the route ahead of time, flagging hop-off points that interest various members of your family. Highlights often include a stop at the base of Table Mountain, from which you can embark on a hike (or rotating cable car ride) up to the summit.

Others may enjoy visiting one of the city’s finest jewelers in Bo-Kaap, or wandering through the hip and trendy Camps Bay suburb. A number of museums are featured along the route, giving you and your family a chance to learn about the South African Jewish population, the troubled history of District 6, and South African art and culture more broadly.

The Kirstenbosch Gardens are another highlight for families with an appreciation for the outdoors. These expansive botanical gardens conserve a number of rare and endangered plants, some of which date back to the Jurassic era. It is also possible to visit many of these monuments and sights on a guided tour with a private driver and vehicle. No matter your mode of transport, today will be a perfectly tailored glimpse into the magic of Cape Town.

Day 3: Set Sail to Robben Island for a Tour of Mandela’s Prison Cell Before Visiting with Penguins

For families who wish to incorporate some South African history and education into their family vacation, a tour to Robben Island is an absolute essential. Weather permitting, four-hour tours depart throughout the day from mere steps away from the One&Only. During the trip out an informational video is played, explaining the history of the island, preparing you for the tour guided by former political prisoners. The tour highlights leprosy graveyards, the lime quarry where Mandela worked and, of course, his specific prison cell. Guides provide great insight as they share personal stories regarding their time on the island, and they are always willing to answer questions.

Returning to land in time for a lunch of fish and chips at the Waterfront, this afternoon again will be spent at your leisure. Should you have chosen to stay in the city center yesterday, this afternoon you might enjoy a trip out to Boulders Beach to see the African penguins. The scenic drive to Boulders carries you along a winding ocean view highway that passes through the numerous picturesque neighborhoods in Cape Town. Returning to the One&Only in the evening, the Victoria and Albert Waterfront will again be an easy place for dinner. However, if your family enjoys culinary adventures, we will gladly assist you in organizing a reservation at one of the city’s top restaurants, easily accessed by a hotel shuttle.

Day 4: Fly to Sabi Sands Private Game Reserve for the Safari Portion of the Adventure

Today you will return to the airport in the morning to catch a flight departing to Sabi Sands, on the border of Kruger National Park. This exclusive game reserve shares an unfenced border with the famed park, but preserves the magic and wonder of the bush with limited traffic and dusty dirt roads. Landing on a dirt airstrip will instantly instill a sense of wonder in your family, which will only grow as you step into an open-air safari vehicle and drive through the bush to Savanna Private Game Reserve. 

Lodge staff will usher you into the serene property with a refreshing juice and a moist towel. Sink into the plush armchair as a cool breeze blows through the open-air lounge, and look out over the plains for your first wildlife sighting. Following a few welcome formalities, you will then walk down the stone trail to your private thatched cottage with two adjoining rooms. Complete with two private plunge pools, an impossibly deep bathtub and stunning views of the surrounding bush, you will quickly adjust to your luxurious home away from home. Relax and unwind before wandering back to the main lodge, for a lunch of fresh salads, homemade breads and locally inspired stews and meat. Indulge in a sweet treat and an espresso before setting out into the bush with your tracker and ranger for an afternoon game drive.

Excitement and wonder inevitably sweep over the vehicle as you happen upon your first zebra or impala. Thrills only grow when a herd of elephant silently emerges in front of you, and permit you to drive within feet of them. Spend the afternoon traversing the winding tracks, pausing at sunset for quintessential sundowners and snacks in the heart of the bush. Return to the camp after dark and spend time mingling with fellow guests. The beauty of Savanna comes from the welcoming familial atmosphere created instantly upon arriving.  Lodge staff and rangers will eagerly strike up conversations with you and your children and they always have captivating stories to tell about their lives in the bush.

Day 5: Enjoy a Morning and Afternoon Game Drive From the Comfort and Luxury of Savanna Lodge

This morning you will rise at dawn and a guard will escort you through the darkness to a main lodge filled with the smell of coffee and pastries. Moderately awake, you and your family will load into your safari vehicle and set out into the bush while it is at one of its most active periods. As the sun floods the landscape, you will search for carnivores feasting on their evening kills and herbivores grazing in the grasslands. Your ranger will work together with fellow Sabi Sands rangers tracking leopards, rhinos and cheetah while birdsongs fill the air around you. Whether you are working to track a particular species or are simply taking in the surrounding natural beauty, this morning will be a truly unforgettable experience for all.

You will return to the lodge in time for an impressive brunch, sure to tide you over through a morning of rest and relaxation. Lounge by the pool or explore the second-story library in the main lounge, always keeping an eye out for wandering elephant and kudu. In the late afternoon, you will again depart on an afternoon and evening game drive to continue with the morning’s adventure. On one of your evenings, you will likely return to an entirely transformed main camp. Savanna is built on a former train station, and the lodge has retained one of the old dining cars. Candles and lanterns magically transform this car into an old world dining experience for the entire camp. Upon stepping into the train, you and your family will be instantly transported to a bygone era of safari magic as you feast upon multiple sensational courses.

Day 6: Continue Exploring the Exclusive Sabi Sands Reserve, Searching for Members of the Big Five

This morning, you will again rise early for a game drive. Of course, for those family members who would prefer to sleep in and quietly enjoy a coffee on the private porch, that too is always an option. The beauty of this camp is the total liberty and freedom afforded to each member in the family. Today will follow a similar pattern to yesterday, though your wildlife encounters will likely vary dramatically. A lucky few may have the opportunity to trail a pack of hunting wild dogs, while others may spend time with a leopardess and her small cubs. Every day in the bush is both remarkable and unpredictable. The adventure is always driving to see what is in store. Be sure to take advantage of your guide’s wealth of knowledge, stopping to ask questions about smaller creatures and plant life that are essential to the environment. You may also be interested to hear of the Sabi Sand’s anti-poaching initiatives, and their efforts to conserve a threatened rhinoceros population.

Following your morning game drive, some members of your family may be interested in swapping relaxation for a tour of a local orphanage, supported by some of the proceeds from Savanna. This tour will provide insight into the villages from which 90% of lodge staff is hired. You will return from the tour for lunch before the afternoon game drive. As you embrace your final evening in the bush, pause at a scenic lookout point with your favorite drink as the sky transforms theatrically around you. Stay out on a unique evening game drive for a little bit longer to hear stories of the constellations that make up the southern hemisphere’s night sky. Return for another entertaining communal dinner served in the open air  before retiring sleepily to your cottage.

Day 7: Fly to Johannesburg Following a Morning Game Drive, and Wander Around the Rosebank Neighborhood

This morning you will have just enough time to rise early and squeeze in a final game drive before your departure. Enjoy one last bush breakfast filled with passion fruit and mango – and a possible egg’s benedict – before you return to the dusty airstrip. A quick flight will have you in Johannesburg in the early afternoon. You will then be driven to the posh suburb of Rosebank, where you will stay at the elegant 54 on Bath hotel. Sleek and chic, this glamorous hotel is a perfect oasis amidst the hustle of Johannesburg. After today’s early morning and an action-filled few days in the bush, this afternoon may be the perfect time to relax at the hotel and wander around the leafy streets of Rosebank, popping into local designer fashion and home décor shops. The hotel itself has a direct walkway connecting it to the recently refurbished Rosebank Mall – which is far more of an experience than it is a mere shopping center. With multiple floors, countless vendors and a wonderful rooftop market, this will be the perfect place to pick up those final souvenirs and gifts.

In the evening, there are a number of restaurants directly in the vicinity of the hotel. However, for those who wish to experience the thriving food-scene in Johannesburg, it would be worth taking a quick drive to the Parkhurst neighborhood where trendy restaurants spill out onto Fourth Street on warm evenings. With international and classically South African fare, one of the numerous restaurants here is sure to please the entire family. 

Day 8: Visit the Chilling Apartheid Museum Before Joining a Bike Tour of the Infamous Soweto

Your final day in Africa will again be spent entirely at your leisure. Here, we recommend hiring a private driver for an all-encompassing tour of this dynamic and rapidly expanding city. Activities are once again designed to fit your particular family’s interests – however, the following are some of our recommended stops when traveling with teens.

The Apartheid Museum is certainly a worthwhile destination. Located in a stunningly modern building, the museum presents an all-encompassing history of the Apartheid system and the anti-Apartheid struggles through text, photographs and video footage. Deeply moving and incredibly informative, a visit to the museum highlights the diversity and challenges of South Africa. The natural step from the Apartheid Museum is to venture into Soweto, where you can see many of the historical sights mentioned in the history. Driving tours are the classic way of visiting the homes of Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu, along with the Hector Pieterson Memorial. However, in recent years a bike tour of the region has grown in popularity. These safe tours lead you to the same destinations, but afford guests somewhat more connectivity with the surrounding environment. The chance to interact with Sowetans and sample local cuisine is often a hugely engaging experience for the entire family.

However, should your family desire a change of scenery, another wonderful neighborhood to explore is the Maboneng Precinct. Located on the fringe of the city center, this area embodies the reinvention of the city. Old industrial buildings are filled with emerging art galleries, designers and chefs. This is the perfect place to stroll through, pausing to snack on Ethiopian fusion cuisine and rich coffee. Every member of the family is sure to find a unique memento to remember the trip by in this creative neighborhood. 

Return to the sophistication of 54 on Bath after dinner, in time for a final celebratory drink with your family poolside. Take a moment to reflect on the adventure as you look out over the glittering city from the elevated infinity pool at the hotel, before drifting happily to sleep in your suite.

Day 9: Return to O.R. Tambo for an International Departure

This morning you will be transferred back to O.R. Tambo in time for your international departure. Depending on your departure time, you may have a few hours to squeeze in a final bit of exploring before you say farewell to South Africa. For families that wish to extend the journey by a few more days, we will also happily build in a bespoke trip extension, giving you a few more days in the city, the bush or by the beach. Take a look at reviews of South Africa safaris for ideas and real reviews from travelers.


Starting Price 

This trip is customizable for your private travel.

What's Included 

  • Accommodations
  • In-country transportation
  • Some or all guided tours and activities (dependent on season)
  • Expert trip planning
  • 24x7 support during your trip
The starting price is based on travel during the low season for a minimum of two travelers staying in shared 3-star accommodations. Please inquire for a custom trip quote based on your travel preferences and travel dates.