Outdoor holiday fun for the family – simply get off the couch and take them with!

Author - Paulette Calitz

When you marry someone like AJ Calitz, you (and your offspring) are not settling for comfortable weekends eating take-aways on a Christmas bed in front of the TV.

No. You sign up for taking the road less traveled and may find yourself with a 7-week-old baby camping on the edge of the Fish River Canyon with no water. That’s us. When we had our first child, Emilie, we decided that we would not stop exploring the outdoors or seeing the world. We’d take her along, be somewhat prepared and have the right tools at our disposal.

People seem to think that our children were just natural-born Tarzans. But honestly – it was the result of a choice we made. It wasn’t always easy, and we had to “train” our children for outdoor living. Driving and traveling far distances, going on hikes in a backpack, falling asleep in different places: on the beach, in a running pram, a sling up the mountain or a camping bed on Namibian sand.

But at the same time, we are not trying to win Survivor. So take a leaf from our book and pack the awesome gear, toys, clothes and gimmicks that will make it happen for you.

If you really want to do something fun this holiday, then go for an outdoor experience. Pack the bags and drive away from the hustle, shops and social media to braai marshmallows with your kids under the starry sky in the Karoo. Just do something different and magical – they will remember and treasure that moment far more than the latest toy or video game.

These are our top three activities and getaways, suited for every budget and time frame.

Day trip ideas:

  1. Climb up Platteklip Gorge and conquer Table Mountain, then reward yourself by taking the cable car down. You’ll be surprised by the distances that young children are able to hike! They simply copy your example. If you motivate them and enjoy the walk, so will they. If they are still very small, invest in the K-Way Habibi Baby Carrier. We put one in the sling and one in the carrier for when the walking gets too much.
  2. Go for a family cycle. We live in Melkbosstrand and love to do a coastal cycle to Blouberg, stop for a coffee and play, then cycle back. Both our cruiser bicycles rock with baby seats, and the awesome K-Way Floppy hat limits sun exposure (we have blonde and ginger children). The drawstring comes in handy – it makes the hat withstand the wind and tiny hands trying to pull it off.
  3. Find or feed the animals: Stodels Garden Centre in Bellville is amazing. Apart from buying plants and pots, there is a large play area, coffee shop and animals to pet and feed. They even have a Llama (very much trending right now). We also do walks in our own Koeberg Nature Reserve with springbok, eland and zebras. Pro tip: if you make the kids walk or cycle, it does wonders for helping them to fall asleep at night. Be sure to take your morning coffee on the walk in a Stanley mug. (This is also the only way you get to drink warm coffee with a newborn.)

Getaway ideas:

  1. Camping. One can go camping in winter! You either choose a warmer destination (like Ai-Ais in Namibia), or you take warm gear along.
  2. Visit the Karoo. Be it Tankwa, Moordenaarskaroo or even a snappy getaway to the Klein Karoo. Life is slow there. The beauty of nothingness could provide endless entertainment and stimulation for your children. Stars, sheep, hikes, rocks, mud cakes and water is all part of the fun.
  3. Cross the border and say hi to our neighbors. From the driving dunes in Namibia, to climbing mountains in Lesotho, beaching in Mozambique or animal watching in the Kgalagadi - this is a truly life-changing experience, and a sure-fire way of building memories as a family.

And the best warm gear to invest in for getaways and day trips:

  1. K-Way Hawk Crewneck Fleece Tops. These are the best and our kids love them. Very affordable, warm, light (for play and packing) and easy to wash and dry. They also make for awesome sleepwear in a tent.
  2. Any K-Way Down Jacket. For those extra cold mornings when you need to remove yourself from the warm sleeping bag. We love snuggling in our puffies! As an alternative, get into your K-Way softshell in front of the fire.
  3. A proper sleeping bag. It makes the world’s difference if you sleep warm, and by packing one good product, you need to take along much less. We use the K-Way Kilimanjaro 2 Thermashift sleeping bags, which we recommended for when things get really chilly.
  4. The K-Way Beanie - it’s kind of our family thing, keeps the baby ears warm and is lined with fleece.

Definitely always try and make the most of the holidays! Remember to try something new and outside of your comfort zone. For some it might be hiking the canyon as a family, or for you yourself it might be getting of the couch, strapping the baby in the sling and walking around the block to your nearest outdoor park. Just enjoy, take the youngsters with and gear-up and get-out.