On The Run

How To Have An Active Family Vacation

We recently went on a week’s vacation to a mountain lodge in the Mpumalanga Province of South Africa. We were looking for a place to relax, rejuvenate and refocus, but for us, this doesn’t mean sitting still! We relish every opportunity to be active when we are on vacation and even when the kids were a lot younger, we’d bring them along on our adventures, carting them around in strollers or on our backs! We find that active holidays create such special memories for all of us. This time, we were also travelling with my father and sister, so we had to think of ways to cater for three generations, and with our great mix of activities, we were successful!

FIVE Tips for An Active Family Vacation

1/ Start the Morning with a Run. We were surrounded by incredible mountains and spectacular views. So, even though I’d not run since mid-December, I was inspired to start my Half Marathon training amidst this splendour. Every morning, my husband Ditiro and I went for a run. Our first was a beautiful run in Pilgrim’s Rest, an old and protected museum town whose architecture remains largely unchanged since its bustling mining days. On another day, we ran into the town of Hazyview as the family visited an elephant sanctuary. On all other days, we ran on the main road outside the lodge which meandered between lush green forests. So, if you’re a runner, always bring your running shoes with you – and enjoy exploring new places on the run!

2/ Plan a Hike. The area also had several options for hikes, ranging from short 1 – 2-hour hikes to day hikes, and even multi-day hikes. We were lucky that the lodge we were staying at was on a small game reserve and offered a number of self-guided hikes varying in difficulty. One of the hikes we did was the Leopard Trail, a 6.8km circular route on jeep track through a eucalyptus forest. The smell emanating from the trees felt so medicinal and refreshing. Walking in nature is such an uplifting experience and a great way to start or end the day while on vacation.

3/ Explore Your Surroundings. Even if you’re not into running or hiking, there are still ways you can be active on vacation. A big one is checking out some of the interesting sights in the area. Mpumalanga has plenty of those. There are several quaint villages and towns to explore such as Pilgrim’s Rest, Hazyview, Graskop and Sabie. But also, a drive along the Panorama Route provides gorgeous views of the Blyde River Canyon, the third-largest canyon in the world.

Even better, there are several points to park, walk around and take in the awesome views. At God’s Window, we walked up a manmade staircase with several viewing points, and at Bourke’s Potholes, we also walked around, taking in the spectacular rock formations.

4/ Do Something Adventurous. Having bungee jumped once and zip-lined several times, I love adding a bit of adventure to our vacations! This time, I didn’t participate, but I did proudly watch as both kids got harnessed and zip-lined twice across the Graskop Gorge. This was the first time they weren’t strapped to us, and they LOVED it – “Can we go again?!” they squealed.

Once they were done, we took a viewing lift 51m down the face of the gorge into the indigenous forest, where wooden walkways and suspension bridges make up a 600m trail. It’s a lovely experience and you get to explore the diverse life that thrives under the dense canopy of trees.

5/ Find Cool Places to Eat. When you’re out and about all day, it’s important to stay fuelled during your activities. We timed all our activities with stops at some cool lunch spots. We always try to find places which are unique to the area. In Graskop, we went to Harrie’s Pancakes which opened in 1986 and serves delectable savoury and sweet pancakes and is very popular with both local visitors and international tourists. We also had lunch at The Vine in Pilgrim’s Rest where we had some hearty “home-made” comfort foods, and we also enjoyed lunch at The Lift Cafe, overlooking the Graskop Gorge, to name a few of our favourites.

There’s nothing wrong with taking it easy on vacation, finding time to read a good book or just chill on the beach. But for us, we thrive on a bit of action and adventure. So, if you’re looking for some of that on your next vacation, I hope these tips help you to embrace all the possibilities and that you discover new sights, sounds and smells, all whilst walking, running or hiking!

What are some of the ways you say active on vacation? Do you prefer an active vacation, a chilled one, or a bit of both? Have you visited Mpumalanga before?

I’m so excited to be linking up with My First 5K and MoreRunning With AttitudeRun Laugh Eat PieRuns with Pugs, and Zenaida for Fit Five Friday

13 thoughts on “How To Have An Active Family Vacation

  1. What a gorgeous place to visit! We always had to be active on our family vacations and it has paid off–my boys like to keep adventuring, even without me!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This great. What a beautiful place to visit

    Even though my kids are grown and my vacations are solo. I like to do all those things you mentioned.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. What amazing views!

    Although I do like an active vacation, it’s been a long, long time since I had a really restful one. I could kinda use that.

    You are raising some adventurous kids, for sure! I’ve never been ziplining or bungee jumping & really don’t want to. But I have done a hot air balloon ride, and a glider ride. Those were many years ago though.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. One bungee jump was more than enough for me!! But glad I did it that once. I would love to do a hot air balloon – we once booked one in South Africa but it was called off in the early morning because of poor weather! We got a refund, of course, but never got the opportunity again. So, it’s on my Bucket List for sure.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Weather is often a problem with hot air ballooning. My husband went through a phase when he was really into it & it was popular where we lived. It was surprising but he’s a bit scared of certain heights. I found it to be very peaceful & far less scary than I imagine bungee jumping to be — it was a really long time ago though!

        Liked by 1 person

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