Top South African, Family Friendly Safari Lodges.

By - Jo Wagner
20.07.15 05:20 PM

Singita – Sabi Sands on the western border of the Kruger National Park.

Almost immediately from our arrival we hardly saw our teenage kids for days who later on told us they participated in a mini-ranger course, attended baking and cooking classes, did a spell of mountain biking and learned how to do archery. We went on a walking safari and visited a local community centre supported by Singita. I rate Singita as one of the best for families.

Ant Hill and Ants Nest Lodges – Malaria free in the Waterberg district of the Limpopo province.

On arrival we soon found our accommodation was built on a cliff with a great view. The reasonable rates and being close – less than 3 hours drive – to the main centre of Johannesburg, also appealed to us as we had booked for a long week-end and did not want to travel for many hours by car. We saw a great number of animals on the three guided 4×4 outings we had as a family. We also had a great three hour outing on horseback.

Jock Safari Lodge – Southern part of the Kruger National Park.

Arriving with my wife and two children below teenage years, I soon realized this is an ideal place for all of us as it caters well for all our needs. The kids (7 and 10 years old) had not an idle moment as there was a large variety of activities and outings to choose from. We took one of the historic/cultural outings where we were told the story of Jock of the Bushveld around a camping fire with the distance roaring of a lion that made us shiver.

Ulusaba – Sabi Sands area on the western border of the Kruger National Park.

I found the setting of Ulusaba on a rocky hill in particular interesting and attractive. It caters very well for the entire family and has a number of special child oriented programs. Our teenage children loved the tree-house accommodation. Ulusaba’s connection to the Branson brand ensures exclusivity is high on the list although this comes at a cost. The Big 5 are virtually on the door step and well trained guides ensure our outings were unique and safe experiences.

Jembisa and Palala River Lodges – Malaria free area in the Limpopo Province.

Travelling into the Waterberg district of the Limpopo province brought back pleasant memories of this beautiful area of South Africa with its thickly bushed kloofs and canyons. It is close enough to the main centers allows international tourists to fly in and be transported in less than 4 hours to the lodges. I rate it highly on child-friendly activities and good value for money.

SeasonsinAfrika Tuningi – Malaria free area in the North-West Province.

Tuningi and Little Tuningi are lodges in the greater Madikwe Game Park and therefore share in its variety of wild life. It’s offering of family packages rates very high and it is close to the main centers to allow for less than 4 hour travel time by car. Our younger children were delighted to join others on an hour “bumble” to a waterhole and then helped the chef prepare a meal. I found it is a lodge that offers great value at a reasonable cost for families.

Riverbend – Malaria free area the Addo Elephant Park of the Eastern Province.

Similar to Amakhala Lodge the Riverbend lodge is in the Addo Elephant Game Park. The children enjoyed the mini ranger program they attended. We were pleased after flying in from Cape Town to travel only two hours by car to reach the Addo Gate. The cost vs value factor is also high and we were enthralled with a number of close elephant encounters during our three day stay.

Amakhala – Malaria free area in the Addo Elephant Park of the Eastern Province.

The major attraction of Amakhala is in being in the greater Addo Elephant Park Game reserve. It has a great advantage to be only two hours by car from Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape with its airport connecting it to all major centers. I rate it high on family activities and entertainment for children.

Morukuru Farm, Owner and River Lodge – Malaria free area in the Madikwe Reserve.

It took us just over four hours by car from Johannesburg to get to this lodge consisting three different lodges inside the greater Madikwe Reserve on the border of Botswana. Its variety in accommodation was such that we accepted the offer to stay two days in the River Lodge and another two days in the Farm Lodge. This particularly appealed to our younger children who each received a special Morukuru Kidz backpack loaded with all sorts of goodies.

Karongwe – Malaria free area in the Limpopo Province.

Of the four lodges available we had booked our family of four into the Kuname lodge on the banks of the Kuvjename river. Our 6 and 7 year old children participated in a special “Little Paws” program learning to identify spoors whilst we had a two hour 4×4 game drive along the river where we saw a large variety of wild life including a leopard. We flew from Johannesburg to Nelspruit where we were fetched by shuttle service that took us three hours northward on good tarmac.

Tswalu NM

Soon after our arrival it became clear this is probably one of the most exclusive lodges. Relaxing on the veranda with its serene expanse of the rolling grasslands in front of me, I realized the 6 hour journey by car was worth it. We took this option instead of flying in with its private air service. The 100 000 hectares and a maximum of 30 visitors at a time makes this an ideal place for a break away from the crowds. Privacy and exclusivity is rated tops at this lodge.

Grootbos NM

For me the appeal of being close to Cape Town – a 2 hour drive – and the diversity scenery – mountains, ocean and fynbos – made up for not having a large variety of wild life. It is one of the most beautiful settings and ideal for a short break away holiday. It can easily be combined with a visit to Hermanus to do some whale watching and to play golf at the Arabella Estate.

Jo Wagner