For South Africa’s BBV Ambassador Martina Muller, this is wintertime. She had travel plans in June and July in America with her husband and two children, but Covid-19 shelved them for the moment. Find out how her family is handling the pandemic and what fun she has in store for her children in their paradise-like surroundings during their staycation in South Africa.
Please tell us about your family.
I’m Martina and my husband is Frederick. We are both South African and based in Hermanus, South Africa. Hermanus is a seaside holiday town southeast of Cape Town renowned for whale watching, shark-cage diving, and amazing wine.
We have a seven-year-old son Andreas and a two-year-old daughter Sofia. Given my background in anthropology and museums, I love anything cultural when traveling. My husband is a keen surfer and used to be a snowboarding instructor. He’s also a big BMX (bike motocross) enthusiast. There’s definitely either of those elements in our family trips! We LOVE traveling all over the world and take our kids everywhere we go.
Even though summer vacation in South Africa is normally in December, did you have any holiday plans for June, July, or August that you had to cancel because of Covid-19?
Yes, we had actually planned a trip to America for June/July but now we will have to postpone it for another time.
How has South Africa dealt with Covid-19 and what restrictions are you currently facing?
We’ve had a very strict lockdown in South Africa which began in March. We have to wear face masks at all times when out in public and aren’t permitted to socialize. At first, we weren’t allowed to leave our houses except to buy groceries or to go to the doctor. We couldn’t purchase alcohol or tobacco products. We have just begun Level 3 of the lockdown which means we can now buy alcohol again and exercise at any time of the day. Many businesses have been allowed to open again for the first time since March. Unfortunately, all guesthouses and hotels remain closed for leisure travel and restaurants are only allowed to do deliveries and take out.
Please tell us what you are doing to entertain your little ones given the circumstances?
At the beginning of the lockdown, we built our kids a “mud kitchen” in the garden which they have loved and has kept them very busy. I homeschool my son with the resources his school sends us every day. Otherwise, we’ve been busy with arts and crafts and lots of bike rides now that we are allowed to go out anytime.
Covid-19 restrictions permitting, are there any sights, itineraries, etc. in your area that you can recommend to fellow BBV members in your area?
Whale season has just begun here in Hermanus. Every year, the Southern Right whales come to our bay to mate and calve from about June to November. Hermanus is one of the best land-based whale watching sights in the world! Now, when we go out to exercise, we can do some whale watching from the cliffs. You often see them blow from their blowholes. If you’re lucky, you’ll see them breach and play. There are also a lot of hiking trails in the mountains here which are all part of a nature preserve called Fernkloof Nature Reserve. As for beaches, Hermanus is renowned for its Blue Flag Grotto Beach.
In non-Covid times, Hermanus offers some wonderful whale watching trips and shark cage diving with Great Whites which is more appropriate for older kids. Every Saturday, we have the Hermanus Country Market which is a great spot for families. There’s a little off-road “train” ride and a jungle gym for kids, as well as face painting and puppet shows and sometimes horseback rides. For parents, there’s everything from local MCC (Method Cap Classique) and fresh oysters to freshly baked goods and organic fruit and vegetables. It’s a great way to sample some of the local wines and foods.
Post-lockdown, a great place for families and kids to visit is Panthera Africa Big Cat Sanctuary which is about 40 minutes from Hermanus. This big cat sanctuary does not allow interaction with people and the cats only come up to the fenced section if they feel like it. They abide by very strict rules in order to be a true sanctuary. All the cats there have been rescued from dangerous situations including poaching and at zoos and circuses. It’s very educational and great to see all the different big cats.
The kids also loved to visit Stoney Point Nature Reserve just outside of Hermanus on Betty’s Bay and home to one of the world’s largest successful breeding colonies of African Penguins. In Hermanus, you can also go on whale watching trips and shark cage diving with Great Whites which is more appropriate for older kids.
During this lockdown, is there any opportunity for a multigenerational reunion?
Not at the moment, socializing is not yet permitted but might be soon. So far only those attending funeral services and business travelers are allowed to congregate.
At this stage, do you have any plan or wish list for your summer holiday in December?
Our town is a big holiday town so December in Hermanus feels like you’re on holiday even though you’re a resident here. Otherwise, there are also many camping spots nearby which are great for the kids too. We are waiting to see what the situation will be like come December before planning anything.
This is the fifth in a series of Bébé Voyage articles on Summer 2020 Plan B, also known “Making Lemonade out of Lemons.” The BBV team wants to hear from you about your summer plans–whether it’s a staycation, a summer house rental, a road trip, or even chartering your own boat. Have you been thinking of a multigenerational vacation? What about farming your kids out to your parents?
Let your plans be an inspiration for our community. Please contact [email protected]
Check out these other Plan B vacations from our Bébé Voyage blog!