There is something unique and special about embarking on a classical safari with your family. Together, you get to enjoy quality family-time while surrounded by the African wilderness and sharing in magnificent wildlife sightings. This is why we’ve put together a list of our favourite family safari lodges in South Africa. From family-friendly rooms, children’s activities and bonding game drives, families of all ages and sizes are sure to have an unforgettable safari experience in South Africa.
The Eastern Cape
Hlosi Game Lodge, Amakhala Game Reserve
Hlosi welcomes children of all ages and specialises in unforgettable family safaris. Accommodation consists of Luxury Family Safari Tents, featuring 2 bedrooms, a bathroom, viewing deck and sleeping 2 adults and 2 children. The Cubs on Safari programme ensures kids between the ages of 3-12 years are kept entertained throughout their stay. Baby-sitting services are available at an extra cost for children under 3 years. When juniors aren’t busy with outdoor activities, they can spend time in the children’s room enjoying books, games, puzzles, toys and movies. Children 5 years and younger are not permitted on game drives, unless a vehicle has been booked on a sole-use basis.
Mark’s Camp, Lalibela Game Reserve
Mark’s Camp welcomes children of all ages in four Family Rooms and offers a dedicated children’s programme. Children under the age of 12 can enjoy game drives in a specialty safari vehicle. They are taken on a shorter game drive where care is taken to avoid close encounters with wildlife. Other features of the children’s programme include arts-and-crafts, bush skills, African stories, and babysitting during certain hours. Mark’s Camp understands that each family is different, which is why they place great emphasis on flexibility to ensure the most enjoyable family holiday.
Riverdene Family Lodge, Shamwari Game Reserve
Riverdene provides guests with the full family safari experience. The lodge boasts a Kids on Safari programme which will keep children entertained and teach them the importance of nature conservation. The programme includes a gift pack, arts-and-crafts, safari adventures, and social and cultural activities. Children can learn about wildlife and the environment on visits to the Born Free Foundation, Animal Rehabilitation Centre and Rhino Awareness Centre. Riverdene Lodge also offers a children’s menu, and baby-sitting services are available at an additional cost. Unfortunately, children under 4 years are not permitted on game drives or at the rescue centres.
The Western Cape
Botlierskop Game Reserve
The game reserve offers a selection of family-friendly accommodation to suit all budgets. The Tented Lodge Family Suite features a main bedroom, separate lounge with sleeper couches, en-suite bathroom and outdoor shower. The Family Rooms in their self-catering Manor House have a main bedroom, separate lounge with sleeper couch, en-suite bathroom and patio. Their Self-Catering Bush Villas consist of a main bedroom, children’s loft, kitchen, splash pool and outdoor lounge. Kids over 5 years can enjoy activities such as fishing excursions, horseback safaris, game drives, guided safari walks, footprint tracking, and treatments at the Spa Kids.
Gondwana Family Lodge, Sanbona Game Reserve
Designed for family safaris, Gondwana Family Lodge overlooks the Bellair Dam and resembles a typical thatched Karoo homestead. The lodge has 12 large suites, each with endless views over the Karoo plains and Anysberg Mountains. Children will be spoiled for choice with things to do, with their own outdoor play area, activities rooms and child-friendly pool. The Kids on Safari Programme provides yet more entertainment, including game drives for those 4 years and above, interpretive trails through the gardens, and a Sanbona Activity Book. Child-minding services are available at an extra cost to allow parents some time to themselves.
Madikwe Private Game Reserve
Tuningi Safari Lodge
Tuningi Safari Lodge is one of the few lodges within Madikwe that specialises in families. The lodge permits children aged 6 and older on game drives, while younger kids are taken on a shorter ‘bumbles’ game drive. Other activities include treasure hunts, educational talks and bush stories, drawing, clay-modeling and T-shirt painting. The chef will happily attend to special dietary needs and preferred times for children’s meals. On special occasions, children get to have their own boma dinner, but on other evenings they make their own pizzas and decorate cupcakes for dessert. Experienced nannies are available at all times at an additional cost.
Jaci’s Safari Lodge
Jaci’s Lodge believes in the importance of family. The Nare and Safari Suite are the perfect accommodation for families, each featuring a private pool, viewing deck, safari guide and vehicle, and sleeping 4-6 people. Jaci’s Safari Lodge offers a great variety of activities and entertainment for kids. They can enjoy the Children’s Photographic Workshop, where the aim is to have fun while learning basic photographic skills, as well as a dedicated games room, where they can enjoy board games, puzzles and foosball.
Madikwe Safari Lodge
The lodge promises families a special place to experience a safari together. Lelapa Lodge welcomes children of all ages, while Dithaba Lodge accepts children if the lodge is booked exclusively. The lodge has a special children’s menu and a list of activities that are sure to keep juniors busy and parents relaxed. This includes game drives, bush orientation, dung tracking, baking, star-gazing and games evenings. Young ones can also enjoy spending time in the Eco House, an education and entertainment centre built specifically for children. Game drives are not available for children under the age of 2, while children between 2 and 5 years are permitted on the late morning family safari.
Sabi Sands Private Game Reserve
Main Camp, Mala Mala Game Reserve
Main Camp welcomes children of all ages and offers accommodation in Family Rooms that sleep 2 adults and 2 children. On arrival, a dedicated game ranger will assess the children’s ages and, with help from parents, will offer activities accordingly. Children aged 5 and older are welcome on game drives, while younger kids are permitted on game drives if a sole-use safari vehicle has been reserved. Other activities include animal tracking, survival skills education and bush breakfasts. Baby-sitting services are provided at an additional cost. Unfortunately, Sable Camp does not accommodate juniors under the age of 12, while Rattray’s does not accommodate children under 16.
Kruger National Park
Fitzpatrick’s, Jock Safari Lodge
Fitzpatrick’s is a small stand-alone lodge situated a short way away from the main lodge. It features 3 rooms, 2 of which sleep families of 2 adults and 2 children, and promises personal service in the most intimate atmosphere. Upon arrival, the host will discuss activity options taking into consideration the family’s size and children’s ages. Activities they can look forward to include game drives, junior rangers training, play dough sessions, mini-chefs and arts-and-crafts. Fitzpatrick’s offers child-minding services at an additional cost. For families who would prefer to stay at Main Jock, the lodge welcomes children from 6 years and older, but charges an adult rate.
Are there any other family-friendly safari lodges in South Africa that you think should have made the list? Feel free to let us know!