Having decided on an impromptu weekend visit to friends of ours living in East London, we packed bags, made plans, and drove through the night to get there!
Although this list is by no means exhaustive, here are things you can do in East London that are fun for kids and require little or no money:
1. Take a walk in a nature area
There are several nature areas around East London with free entrance and pleasant walks. We walked to the beach at the Nahoon Estuary Local Authority Nature Reserve (unrestricted access until 4pm, no pets permitted), which also has a forest walk and a bird hide. We also enjoyed a stroll along the Quenra River Causeway– plenty of benches, picnic tables and a couple swings for the kids. Lovely spot to watch birds – kingfishers, fish eagles and herons.
2. Tube down a river
We took a couple of inner tubes (often available from your friendly local tyre salesman or farmer) with us to the beach and nature reserve – not too heavy to cart around, and fun for you or your kids to float on! We even joined a community river get-together called ‘Whatever floats’ on the Gonubie river with the residents of Gqunube Green and their pontoons made of recycled materials. Next year it will be open to the public.
3. Enjoy the beach
What more can you say? It’s the beach, after all! Sun, sand, surf…Take along a frisbee, ball, bucket and spade, or your friendly neighbourhood pooch! If you go in the heat of the day it is a good plan to bring some portable shade. We enjoyed an early morning at Nahoon beach. For an extra treat afterward, apparently the chocolate milkshakes at the beach cafe are the best in town!
4. Feed a friendly duiker
We first visited the Amalinda Nursery Zoo three years ago, and my older daughter at that stage just ate anything we handed her to feed the animals. We all had a good time, though, and after hearing the stories a few time my daughter was set on going back. A really reasonably priced activity back then, we were pleasantly surprised to see that the prices hadn’t changed! At R10 per person over 2 years and R5 for a tub of fruit and veggie bits enough to feed 100 small animals or one hungry toddler, and access to a large playground as well, it is a very good deal.
5. Enjoy a free breakfast (or lunch)
This one available to FNB customers only (or friends and family of generous FNB customers who don’t live near to a one-stop…) – FNB offers all its eBucks customers (level 2 upwards) one Wimpy breakfast or burger voucher every 3 months. While the only place to redeem it in the Eastern Cape is at a filling station in King Williams town which would not win any prizes for restaurant ambience, if you are driving to East London from somwhere else there are plenty of options to stop en route. We enjoyed our free breakfasts at the Kroonvaal One Stop, followed by free coffee and hot chocolate for downloading the Equatorial Coffee app. The kids had a ball playing in the Wimpy play place and on the outside jungle gym, and were suitably tired to the extent that they slept for the rest of the journey – all for the princely sum of R30 (for tip and two babychinos).
So there we have it – some good ideas for budget-friendly activities with kids in East London. What are your favourite tips for travel and road-tripping?