South Africa shelters some of the most pristine tracts of wilderness on earth, roamed by an impressive variety of wildlife. Safaris in South Africa is fast becoming a family affair as more and more private lodges open their doors to the younger set and cater superbly to children’s specific needs.
In the North-West Province, adjacent to the Botswana border, lies the Madikwe Game Reserve, one of South Africa’s largest reserves spanning some 75 000 hectares. This is an enchanting region of vast open woodlands, grasslands and scattered hillocks that has long captured the imaginations of writers and artists. Madikwe has great appeal for families, for not only does it incorporate some outstanding child-friendly lodges, but it also falls outside the risk areas for malaria.
A dream come true for children, Jaci’s Safari Lodge and Jaci’s Tree Lodge are popular hideaways in the Madikwe Reserve, which can be reached ex Johannesburg in three hours. These trendy lodges are set under a forest canopy on the banks of the Marico River, and both are wonderfully comfy. Safari Lodge sports shaggy thatched roofs, private decks, fireplaces and outdoor safari-showers. Tree Lodge is a real delight and enough to capture any child’s imagination. Tree houses have been crafted around giant trees and are linked to the central areas by timber walkways. A special children’s programme includes kiddies’ jungle drives, orientation in tracking and bush detection skills, lots of experiential learning, special children’s mealtimes and child-minding services. The lodge owners, Jaci and Jan, have children of their own, and their lodges are fully geared up to provide a rewarding experience for all.
Another upscale lodge in malaria-free Madikwe that welcomes children is Tau Game Lodge. The Cubz Club Kiddies’ Programme provides each participant with a backpack containing activity booklets and checklists. Tau guides lead various bush-oriented activities such as treasure hunts and shortened safari excursions. Children 0-3 years sharing with parents stay free, there’s a nominal cost for children aged 3-5, while children aged 6-12 pay 50% of the rate. While the kids are busily exploring the bush, parents are free to indulge in a spa treatment or two.
Moving out of Madikwe and into Mpumalanga, the game-teeming Sabi Sand Reserve features Sir Richard Branson’s private safari lodge, Ulusaba. It’s child-friendly and welcomes children of all ages to Rock Lodge, a stylish lodge resting on the summit of a rocky hill, where views are expansive. The Ulusaba Cubs Club has been designed for the small set. Children are taken on treasure hunts, entertained with African stories and educational games, and provided with special kiddies’ fare.
Set in the Timbavati Reserve adjacent to the Kruger National Park, Thornysbush Game Lodge is another appealing destination for a family safari. Respected as “little rangers in training”, young guests receive a special children’s pack on arrival at the lodge, they get taken on tailor-made kiddies’ drives and walks, and immerse themselves in the skill of animal tracking. Rat packs of tasty provisions accompany them on all excursions!
Exclusive Getaways has been creating magical getaways for travellers the world over since 1991. Whether you’re planning your first South African family safari, or returning to re-experience the many wonders of the bushveld, our Getaways Consultants are able to offer some fabulous suggestions and create your made-to-fit family-friendly bush break in South Africa.