Family-friendly game lodges and kids’ safaris
There are a number of private game lodges in South Africa that welcome children, giving them a fantastic opportunity to learn about nature, wildlife and the bush, while they have the adventure of a lifetime at the same time.
Jock Safari Lodge (on one of the privately owned concessions in the Kruger National Park itself) offers family-friendly holidays. Themed on the classic animal tale that children love, Sir Percy Fitzpatrick’s Jock of the Bushveld, the venue is a great fit for kids. Also in the area is the Kapama River Lodge, where families are taken on their own exclusive game drives, and rangers facilitate child-friendly activities like spoor casting.
In the neighbouring Sabi Sands conservation area, children over the age of four are welcomed at Varty Camp and Founders Camp at Londolozi. Also in the Sabi Sand Reserve, Rock Lodge at Richard Branson's Ulusaba private game reserve welcomes children of all ages, but they must be six years or older to go on game drives. Here, the Cubs’ Club offers a daily programme of activities such as treasure hunts.
In the vicinity of the Addo Elephant National Park in the Eastern Cape, Riverbend Lodge has a playroom filled with educational toys and games, as well as a swimming pool, slide and sandpit. The youngsters can go on a guided walk, a bug hunt, a special night drive or visit the nearby breeding projects.
Also in Addo, Kuzuko Lodge caters to families, while the award-winning Shamwari Game Reserve features family suites and a Kids on Safari programme, which includes activities such as kiddies’ game drives, storytelling and learning to identify animals by their sounds. Child-minding facilities are available at an additional fee for children younger than four.
The youngsters can go on a guided walk, a bug hunt, a special night drive or visit the nearby breeding projects.
At the Madikwe Game Reserve in North West province, children of all ages are catered for at Jaci’s Lodges. Specific Jungle Drives (aimed at children four years and younger) are offered, lasting 30 to 90 minutes, depending on the kids' interest levels. There’s also a three-hour, fun-filled specialised Children’s Safari, aimed at older children. On this drive, juniors learn many wonders of the bush related to survival, tracking and bush medicine. Furthermore, a full-on workshop-style programme can be set up for the kids, for each day of their stay. Children are also given special attention at Madikwe River Lodge, another property on the same reserve.
In the Pilanesberg National Park, Bakubung Bush Lodge, Ivory Tree Game Lodge and Kwa Maritane are all family friendly, as are Mabula Game Lodge in the Waterberg, and Shidzidzi and Nungubane game lodges in the Welgevonden Game Reserve, three hours’ drive from Johannesburg.
Children’s activities are also provided at Sanbona Wildlife Reserve in the Little Karoo, a location with a strong San heritage and a pride of white lions.