5 South African Family Safari Lodges; are the originals still the best?
We started helping families plan safari holidays pretty much from the inception of Aardvark Safaris in 1999. Back then a combination of Jaci’s Safari Camp in Madikwe Game Reserve and Ant’s Nest in the Waterberg was our clients’ favourite holiday. Seventeen years later, is the original still the best?
Both properties have undergone some big changes:
Jaci’s added Tree Lodge to the original Safari Lodge and also has two villas suited to family travel. Their ‘jungle drives’ offer something special for the real littlies, while those six years old and above are welcome on morning and afternoon drives. There’s more to it for families than this though, as Jaci’s guides really understand kids and will keep children engaged acting as ‘the guide’s spotters’, helping make their own pizza, or looking for animal tracks.
The original Ant’s Nest house is fantastic for extended families who can take over the whole property for complete flexibility. It was joined in 2003 by Ant’s Hill an entirely separate lodge with rooms to suit all-comers including a family cottage sleeping up to six.
The reserve is now 12,500 acres and since it isn’t home to lion or elephant (which will be seen in Madikwe from Jaci’s) children and adults can all spend time out of a vehicle on foot, mountain bikes, or horses.
They still combine brilliantly as a malaria-free family safari holiday, but nowadays there are some other choices also worth looking at.
Kwandwe Reserve is malaria-free and within South Africa’s southern climate band, meaning it has its best weather in the UK’s winter period. Anyone wanting to escape the cold and damp for a family safari with great wildlife at Christmas, New Year or in the February half term, ought to have a look at this reserve and its choice of properties.
At Ecca Lodge three suites suit families, with parents in the main bedroom, and children accommodated in the separate lounge area. Melton Manor and Uplands Homestead are private villas, perfect for a family looking for exclusivity and flexibility on holiday.
While some sections of the malaria-free Madikwe Game Reserve can be busy, the joy of the Morukuru properties is that they have their own 3,500 hectare reserve. This sits alongside, but is not separated from, the main reserve. While Morukuru guests can access their private area and the main reserve, other vehicles cannot come onto the private reserve.
Madikwe Safari Lodge is a third choice within the eponymous reserve. The owners, More Hotels, have an excellent pedigree in hosting families on safari and ensuring children have a fun and memorable holiday. A third bed can be created on a sleeper couch within the parent’s suite and family suites have an entirely separate bedroom.
While these are among our top choices, we’ve travelled widely and there are other malaria-free family friendly safari lodges and camps which we happily recommend. Our team of safari experts have visited many on holiday with their own families so can offer truly first hand advice.
If you’ve got this far and not found an answer to a question you have that we should have included, please ask in the comments section below, or pop us an email. We’ll be sure to reply and may amend the article to include our answer.
We would be delighted to help you plan a holiday, or answer any questions if you’re at an earlier stage. Our team of family safari experts have travelled widely throughout Africa. They can offer expert advice on every type of safari from family and beach holidays to riding and primate safaris. If you would like to talk to someone who has been there and done it, please just send us an email or give us a call.