There are many aspects to take into account when considering a safari as a family vacation. But the rewards are abundant, from the wonder of a child’s first glimpse of a pride of lion through to the training of survival basics from your resort ranger the lessons learned on safari are far superior to anything taught in a classroom. Family safaris must however be approached with a degree of realism and acceptance of your child’s limitations, and all of our top five lodges for families are aware of children needs and wants and have activities in place for the downtime after a game drive or rest day, pools for on-site animal viewing, child friendly cuisine and many have specially designed children’s activity programs.
There are, of course, many resorts who accommodate families these are our top five recommendations.
Situated in the Northern Cape Province, Tswalu welcomes children of all ages, as their mission states – this is their Kalahari too, they want to ‘excite the next generation about our conservation vision’ Family accommodation is offered either at The Motse – a collection of 9 suites 3 of which have been designed with families in mind providing generous living space and separate bedrooms or, for larger families, Tarkuni – this generously proportioned sanctuary offers enough room for 10 guests and includes its own host and private chef. Tswalu’s own Junior Ranger Program has been designed with all children’s interests in mind, activities include archery (after making your own bow and arrow) on foot tracking, bush walks and the opportunity for children to cook their own bush dinner. Tswula also offers round the clock free babysitting.
A true one of a kind, at Jabulani families can meet and spend time with the camp’s very own herd of 15 elephants that live on the property. This all inclusive lodge doesn’t come cheap but with opportunities like elephant back and night time safaris on offer its more than justified. Family accommodation comes in the form of the spectacular Zingdoga Presidential Villa, 2 spacious suites connected by a living and dining area with private pool and viewing deck. A safari team including a ranger (with private 4×4) a chef and butler are all at your disposal. The camp offers ‘Team Tusker’ a program of activities for children ranging from arts and crafts, tracking and survival basics for your budding Bear Grylls.
Kings Camp remains one of the only places you can see rare White Lions in the wild combined with the strong chance of glimpsing all of the big 5 makes Kings Camp a desirable choice for families young and old. For families with children aged 6 and over accommodation is offered in the form of thatched bungalows or, for larger families, the Waterbuck Private Camp a 4 bedroomed private villa that come with its own safari vehicle, ranger, butler and chef. The private deck complete with hammock is the perfect location to take in the fantastic game viewing. The camp boasts its own on-property watering hole attracting animals all day long – children can enjoy watching elephant and impala stop for a drink without having to leave the camp’s pool!
Situated in the Sabi Sands, the oldest private reserve in South Africa, Kirkman’s Kamp benefits from &Beyond’s WILDchild program, where rangers, trained at working with children, keep younger guests engaged throughout their stay. Kirkman’s Kamp activities include teaching about wildlife, conservation and culture. The newly installed family suites ensure parents and children alike have all the room they need. Kirkman’s Kamp is a popular choice for families due to the proximity to Johannesburg whilst losing nothing on the abundance of animal viewing.
Welcoming families with children of all ages Shamwari offers the complete package for the young traveller – from the word go children are warmly welcomed, parents are encouraged to discuss family activity options which are then turned into a tailor made itinerary, whilst children are handed an age appropriate gift pack and soft toy. Children can join excursions to the Born Free Foundation Big Cat Rescue Center and nearby Animal Rehabilitation Center leaving parents to enjoy a morning game drive, walk or treatment at the Relaxation Retreat. Family accommodation comes in the form of Riverdene Lodge, offering 7 intercommenting rooms, swimming pool with shallow area for children, supervised play room, jungle gym and lounge with children’s menu.