Family Traveler Spotlight is the section of our publication where we profile families who love taking their children along on their travel adventures. In this edition, we meet Sophie Pirlot of p.o.e.s.y. by Sophie. She shares with us her family’s incredible journeys across the African continent.
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Tell us about your family.
We are a Belgian Family of 5. My husband, Diego and I, Sophie, are blessed with three beautiful girls. Aliénor who is 10 years old, Colombine is 8 years old while our last born Aprilia is 3 and half years old.
Where do you live when you’re not traveling?
We live in Johannesburg, South Africa. We have lived here for almost four years now. We arrived when our last born was only one month old.
What type of work do you and your partner do?
When we were living in Belgium, I worked as a trademark lawyer for 10 years. After my husband acquired a job in an oil company in South Africa, we all decided to move to this incredible country. We were very excited since we all love traveling. The uncertainty of the country we will be moving next and when is such a thrill and we travel as much as we can to discover new adventures.
Our stay in Africa has been spectacular, and we have visited most of South Africa’s bordering countries. From our numerous African adventures, I started to write travel articles and reviews for various websites. I’m working now on my own travel blog p.o.e.s.y. by Sophie which will be launched soon.
Tell us about p.o.e.s.y. by Sophie.
One of the frequent questions that people ask me is how to organize a kid-friendly safari. In my case, we did our first family safari when the girls were 6 and 4 years while the youngest one was only 2 months and we never really stopped since. South Africa is an extremely kid-friendly country but you have to find the right addresses. I have included on my blog my personal travel experiences and all my best addresses for family friendly travel in Africa!
In the four years, we’ve traveled to so many magnificent places: We’ve slept in the middle of Kruger Park looking for the Big Five, camped on Mozambique deserted islands, surfed in Cape Town, seen the Okavango Delta in Botswana, visited the Zululand, climbed the Table Mountain, done horse riding safaris and flown above the majestic Victoria Falls. It is really a never-ending discovery that I like to share on my blog!
Why do you believe in traveling the world with your children?
Discovering the world through your kids’ eyes is amazing! They will be amazed by the small little things that you would hardly notice. Kids are adorable and they will make you have a different view of things. With kids, you will learn to appreciate the little wonders of the world. Moreover, I know that time flies really fast and I try to make as many memories with my kids as possible.
Luxury means different things to different people. How do you define luxury when it comes to traveling with your family?
For us, we take luxury as a manifestation of small attentions and keen to details. We don’t especially like the huge all-inclusive resorts with kiddies club and activities. However, we prefer small boutique hotels, charming places, and authentic guesthouses.
Luxury is also an opportunity to see ‘untouched places’ and the exciting contact with the nature. Africa is just an excellent choice for that! We just come back from a trip in the Drakensberg mountains where we were walking absolutely alone in this incredible nature and enjoying unforgettable sunset just the five of us. To us, this is true luxury.
What’s the best travel experience your family has ever had?
Woow!, that will be a hard choice to narrow down to one since most of our travel experiences are unforgettable but if I had to pick a favorite one, I would say the sailing trip that we did in the Quirimbas archipelago of Mozambique. We were camping on desert islands, alone in the world without electricity and water. During the day we went snorkeling, exploring the islands and visiting the small fishing villages. We spent time on deserted beaches, collecting the biggest shells we’ve ever seen, and girls acted like pirates and mermaids. At night, we all sat around the fire and told stories under the stars. Trust me this was a once-in-a-lifetime experience!
What’s your favorite family-friendly luxury hotel?
Belmond Mount Nelson Hotel in Cape Town! This is an iconic palace which combines timeless luxury and refinement with extra attention paid to the well-being and happiness of families with kids. They have the most incredible playroom that I’ve ever seen!
On the Garden Route in South Africa, the Kurland Hotel is amazing! This 5-star hotel is simply a paradise for families surrounded by a vast 700-hectare private estate of incredible natural beauty and immaculate polo fields.
For an unforgettable family safari: Morukuru in the Madikwe Game Reserve is the place to be. You will have the exclusive use of this luxury lodge, and the staff is only dedicated to overseeing your comfort. Since you are the only guests, you will have absolute freedom to do whatever you want, whenever you want!
What three items do you never travel without?
It all depends on the age of the kids. I have a packing checklist on my phone with the traveling essentials. But it becomes easier and easier as the kids grow up. For now, I would say: easy snacks (like nuts and dried fruits), iPads (for the roads/flights but then we forget them), coloring stuff and old-fashioned games like cards, checkers and other board games (in travel size), one big scarf that you can easily use as a sheet, a pareo, a blanket or a towel, a big canvas tote bag which you can use to carry toys, food, beach essentials and other family stuff during the trip.
What’s your favorite online travel resource?
I’m a huge fan of i-escape: They have a very accurate selection of charming places and luxury hotels with the “highs” and “lows” of each place. They also have a nice family selection. I also love Little Voyageurs. It is a really cool website offering family city guides, advices, and trendy, kid-friendly addresses. For South Africa, Bush Breaks is very useful. They offer the best deals on luxury lodges everywhere in the country. There are also so many travel blogs and Instagram accounts that I’m following and which offer helping and exciting information!
What’s the worst mistake you see other parents making when traveling?
The common mistake that I have come to notice is that most parents sacrifice to fulfill the “must do” program rather than enjoying each place at a go. I think it’s important for the kids as well as the parents to have time to really enjoy a place. Rushing to see all the “must do” is pointless.
What’s on your travel bucket list?
So many things! It’s like the more you travel, the more you have many places that you want to see. In Africa, we will be going soon to Namibia which is on the top of our bucket list. We would also like to discover Madagascar, the Lake Malawi, and the Seychelles. Moreover, there are so many Safari Parks that we need to visit in South Africa, Zimbabwe and Botswana! Outside Africa, I’m thinking of India, Australia, and Brazil.