This is a Premium feature
To use this feature subscribe to Mumsnet Premium - get first access to new features see fewer ads, and support Mumsnet.Start using Mumsnet Premium
South Africa or Canada for big family holiday?(25 Posts)
I'm planning a 2 or 3 week holiday for hopefully next year (2018). It has to be in the school holidays so if we go for 3 weeks it'll need to be in the summer.
DC will be 16 & 13. We want exploration, scenery, wildlife, culture and adventure. As far as I can tell both SA and Canada can offer all this. I have been to SA before but not Canada.
If we went to SA we'd stay in Cape Town, explore the peninsular, go to Robben Island, abseil off Table Mountain, and fly inland for a safari at Kruger or similar. For Canada, we'd start in Vancouver, go to the Rockies, see the bears in the National Park and visit Niagara.
The two places seem pretty comparable in terms of our tick list and flight times. Cost would be a factor (SA wins there) but so would climate (Canada wins that one).
How do I choose?
I have been to both and I think i would probably go with Canada. Travelling with teens there is easy, and there is loads to do if you like hiking/ biking.
The only reason I would choose SA instead is if the wildlife is important to you - in Canada the places we went at least - it was more you see it if you see it, rather to being a guarantee, which at Kruger it would be. I can see why it's difficult to decide, they are both amazing countries!
I would vote for a visit to Canada rather than South Africa.
Would suggest you also read the Foreign Office advice for South Africa particularly the Entry Requirements section for children under the age of 18. Basically their full birth certificate (the abridged shorter version is not acceptable) will need to be shown to the authorities. The South African Department of Home Affairs are not accepting uncertified copies of birth certificates or copies of the parents/guardians identification. There are additional requirements if the child is travelling with only one parent, with neither biological parent, or unaccompanied.
Your passport should have at least 2 blank pages when you present it at immigration to enter or leave South Africa.
I would not let birth certificates put me off SA. Cheaper and easier than obtaining visas!
The weather would be colder in SA but it is cheaper, especially as it is low season.
Make sure you stay somewhere that has a track record with bears in Canada. August is a good time to see them and they should be catching salmon during the salmon run.
I would go to Vancouver Island and consider Lake Louise and Banff. I think Niagra is overrated.
Kruger will be warm during the day but cold in the mornings when you go on game drives. I would also think very carefully about how important African animals are to the holiday. They will be easy to see and more plentuful then bears. So if you like elephants, lions, leopards, giraffe, etc then SA is for you. The bush camp style accommodation is great in SA and their guest houses such as 4,Rosmead in Cape Town have the best service. There is another one in Camps Bay which is great too. (Can't think of the name right now!) Much better then hotels.
Thank you. All very useful info.
I want to go to SA. It was the first place I thought of that could offer a variety of different experiences, but the DC prefer Canada. DH is happy with either.
I think the wildlife is important tbh. Interesting that it could be cooler in SA. DD hates the heat which I think is putting her off the idea of SA as she thinks that Canada will be colder.
What about the east coast of Canada? Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Quebec, Montreal?
Aug in SA isnt as hot as thats their winter...my dh from SA and cape town is amazing!
August is the ideal time to go game viewing in Kruger. That side of SA has warm, dry winters (which is when you'll be there) and the grasses and vegetation die back a bit because it's so dry, which makes it easier to spot game. If you want to stay in accommodation run by SA National Parks inside Kruger (by far the best value way of staying inside Kruger...private lodges inside Kruger are £££) then plan to book a looong way in advance.
Check out the weather for Cape Town at that time of year - I believe they tend to have wet winters, so might not be so good for your holiday.
As well as being less expensive than Canada, SA has the advantage of no jet lag.
Both would be fantastic. SA would probably win for me just for the different culture and food and guaranteed wildlife.
If you did go to Vancouver, Vancouver island is great, fantastic ferry trip and Tofino in the north is my favourite place in the world. Would be brilliant for teens.
We did the Canada trip with our teens at this sort of age. principally because of concerns over the jabs need and the anti malarials which one of my DC cant take/have.
We stayed in 4 different places over 3 weeks and it was incredible. our kids still say it was their best holiday. if you message me I will send you all the info on the places we stayed in.
You shouldn't need a Visa for Canada if you're not staying that long but you may need an electronic travel authorisation, which is cheaper and can be done online.
Jabs/ malaria tablets is a factor actually as I don't think I'll want DD to be taking those as the holiday will be an adventure after she has recovered from a chronic illness. I hadn't thought of that.
What was specifically good about Canada for teens? Neither is particularly into popular culture or the usual things that teens like.
Having been to both, I would choose Canada. Vancouver is a vibrant, cool, cosmopolitan city. Loads for teenagers to do & see.
Would you also consider going over to the Island, starting at Victoria & travelling up to Tofino? You can do kayaking, cycling, whale tours etc. Then get the sea plane back to Vancouver - or fly to Calgary - hire Banff & go through the Rockies to Lake Louise, Athabasca Glacier etc?
All of that would take 2-3 weeks.
I live in that part of Canada and I would choose SA. Far more exciting! But I would actually suggest NZ, not at that time of year, for what you want from Canada but better. More adventure sport, weirder landscape, more change in environment (semi-tropical north and temperate south), cool geothermal stuff.
Both SA and Canada are good for outdoor type teens. Canada has excellent hiking and biking self guided and tours. Also great kayaking.
I have been to both, would pick South Africa any day! Cape Town is an immense, vibrant city. Vancouver I found a bit odd (I know everyone raves about it so sure just me).
We did 4 days of safari, 8days in capetown (5days being for cricket), 3 in franschoek and 3 in stellenbosh. I'm guessing your teens may not be into wine tasting though camps bay would be great for teens, and hermanus for whale watching.
I'd go back to SA in a heartbeat! I'm sure whichever you pick will be awesome though
We didn't have jabs etc as stayed west / east cape only.
I loved SA too, agree Camps Bay for teenagers. We went to Shamwari for safari - it was one of the best experiences of my life - then hired a car & went to Hermanus, Boulders Bay etc & Franschoek.
The only think that bothered about SA was the security/crime: having your car doors locked at all times, not being able to go out for a stroll, feeling unsafe at night. Sadly, I felt it was a very divided society.
I am considering Canada for a two week holiday and was about to fill in the eTA.
Just wanted to know if anybody applied for obtaining eTA? I found some info on etacanadaonline.com/de/ . It the process really as simple as they say? If anyone's had any similar experiences and can give advice as to where's the best to put on the form, that'd be great.
Thanks in advance!
Only use the official Canadian government website to apply for an ETA; there are many rip off merchants out there who will overcharge you for doing so.
use the official CA government one instead:-
I'd go for Canada. The security issues in SA do worry me (and I'm a pretty seasoned traveller). Last time I was there we saw armed guards at petrol stations and had things stolen from our bags going through J'berg airport. Amazing country but....
I would avoid Cape Town at that time of year. It's cold wet and windy. Stick with the northern hemisphere during our summer holidays.
Was just about to comment on this, and then noticed I already had! Did you book one chic?
Please login first.