South Africa is the perfect safari destination for many reasons – it is almost completely malaria-free, boasts breathtaking landscapes, has thousands of exciting species to spot and photograph in their natural habitats, and is usually complemented by absolutely gorgeous weather…
But, its appeal has just risen to new heights as we explore some of the many child-friendly game reserves throughout the country, making it an ideal option for families on the lookout for an authentic African safari holiday.
1. Addo Elephant National Park (Eastern Cape province)
Home to the Big Five, which includes an impressive population of more than 600 African elephants, Addo is a stunning getaway for memorable safaris or exciting day trips.
It is less than an hour outside Port Elizabeth and has a number of accommodation options available – from rustic tented camps to luxury safari lodges. Thanks to the affordable camping facilities, on-site restaurant and easy-to-navigate routes through the reserve; Addo is a prime option for families with little ones.
2. Londolozi Private Game Reserve (Mpumalanga province)
Situated in the heart of the Kruger National Park, Londolozi has a variety of programmes for kids to enjoy. The guides love making it really fun, and may even initiate mud fights or rock climbing to keep the children busy and laughing.
Local trackers share their knowledge on finding wild animals in the bush; after which the kids can go fishing or catching butterflies (which the rangers release afterwards). Londolozi’s restaurant caters to the palates of little eaters and the entertainment options available here ensure that parents can relax while their children are having the time of their lives.
3. Pilanesberg National Park (North West province)
Two hours from Johannesburg and the OR Tambo International Airport, Pilanesberg is easy to reach and fantastic for children. There are a variety of cost-effective accommodation options, as well as playgrounds and swimming pools to keep little ones busy.
The Big Five are residents in this park and are relatively easy to spot and photograph, which means that game drives are exciting and will keep your children on the lookout.
4. Sanbona Wildlife Reserve (Western Cape province)
The Sanbona Gondwana Lodge is a prime choice for a memorable family getaway. It is situated in the spectacular Karoo, just three hours’ drive from Cape Town, and caters for every member of the family.
The Kids on Safari programme is especially for little ones and includes face-painting, guided walks, and exciting visits to the rock art sites in the caves. There are also many awesome animals to spot on a game drive (including leopards, hippopotamuses and rhinoceroses), as well as excellent facilities like a child-friendly swimming pool and a playroom.
5. Kruger National Park (Limpopo and Mpumalanga provinces)
As one of the top safari destinations in the world, it is wonderful for parents to know that Kruger caters for the needs of children too. Its tarred roads and huge variety of wildlife (including some of Africa’s wildest predators) make it an easy safari and some of the lodges include kiddies’ activities in their itinerary for the family.
These activities include learning the basics of the Shangaan language, face-painting, body-painting, playing in the safari-themed room, and heading out on a “touch-and-feel walking safari”. Kruger is only four hours from Johannesburg. It is one of very few places in South Africa in which malaria may be an issue. So, children should be over the age of five years, and should be treated with the appropriate prophylaxes in advance.
The Rainbow Nation of South Africa certainly offers no shortage of fabulous things to do and see for families. An African safari is one of the top bucket-list items for any adventurers who want to experience the undeniable magic of this land.