Ready... Set... Safari!
You’d be hard pressed to find a kid that isn’t intrigued by the call of the ‘Big 5’ and the African wild. Madeline Hoskin rounds up some safari sleeps that all ages will adore.
Ulusaba Private Game Reserve
Sabi Sand Reserve, South Africa
Sir Richard Branson doesn’t do anything half-heartedly, so rest assured a holiday to Ulusaba will enchant all who stay. This game reserve – right near Kruger National Park – packs in the action; from twice-daily game drives, swimming pool, sports facilities, a spa that knows how to pamper even the smallest of guests, and an activity-packed Cubs’ Club. In fact, kids are made supremely welcome here, with all visiting ‘cubs’ catered for with special food menus and even their own backpack stuffed with goodies to assist their entertaining African education. For accommodation, you’ll be lapping up views across the expansive lowveld to the Drakensberg Mountain range from a stunning room in the Rock Lodge. And just to sweeten the deal, kids under 12 stay free (an offer valid until at least 18 December 2014).
Cottar’s 1920s Safari Camp
Maasai Mara, Kenya
As its name suggests, Cottar’s will inspire all the family to embrace the pioneer sense of adventure that thrived in the early 20th century. The whole thing feels serenely timeless; from unspoiled quiet and views out across the Serengeti, to the majestic wildlife and luxuriously rustic accommodation found in one of the four breezy canvas family suites. To encourage their cultural immersion, sign the kids up for Maasai Warrior School where they’ll learn bow-and-arrow skills, fire-building, the traditional adamu jumping dance, and more. They’ll also get to don Maasai clothing, henna and jewellery to experience a blessing ceremony. When not occupied with game drives (both day and night), game walks or interactions with the local Maasai community, you’ll be relaxing in the new 25m pool or dining, drinking and relaxing in one of the camp’s two mess tent areas, or perhaps even taking a unique safari bath set up right in the savannah.
Don’t be deceived by the word ‘cottage’ – Loisaba provides self-contained accommodation for up to six adults and four children, complete with divinely earthy wooden interiors, a secluded swimming pool area, your own staff and the exclusive use of a custom game drive vehicle. From here you’ll have all that’s required to explore the sprawling bush surrounds and working cattle station – the vast region being home to over 50 species of wildlife,
as well as the welcoming nomadic Samburu and Laikipiak Maasai peoples. There are options to ride horses and camels, raft along the Ewaso N’giro or Ngare Narok rivers, speed along on quad bikes, visit local villages, have a hit of tennis, go swimming and – of course – enjoy game drives, walks and even lion tracking.
Sabi Sand Reserve, South Africa
This Sabi Sabi collection property not only boasts 25 African-styled suites with pictureperfect thatched roofs, roaming views over plains and a waterhole, and a plethora of animals to spot... it also has a fantastic children’s facility, the EleFun Centre. Fun, safe and educational, it provides immersive activities for two distinct age groups: four- to eight-year-olds in the Junior Tracker Programme, and those nine to 12 as Junior Rangers. The space is brightly coloured and authentic in design, filled with outdoor play options, ‘edutainment’ in the form of bushcraft and animal spotting, and more. Kids will even venture out on specially created walks and game drives that will instil in young ones an unshakable love for Mother Nature. With this acquired private time, parents can go out on safaris, enjoy some pampering at the Amani Spa or engage with their surrounds in a traditional Shangaan Community Tour.
Phinda Private Game Reserve
KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
There are delights all year round at &Beyond’s Phinda. From your home in one of the handful of spacious lodges that speckle the 23,000-hectare reserve you’ll either enjoy the thriving green warmer months with the pitter-patter of baby animal feet or the cooler times where vegetation is sparser allowing for the best wildlife viewing. And it’s not just the Big 5 you’ll find here – it’s also a sanctuary for rare cheetah and black rhino, and a birder’s
dream, with over 415 species to be found. For kids aged six and up, &Beyond’s WILDchild programme will add a heightened level of magic to the experience. Under the guidance of an expert tracker they’ll be encouraged to get hands-on and delve into their new environment. There’s also the option to explore the region’s marine charms at Sodwana Bay close by, right on the cusp of the Indian Ocean. Watch turtles, snorkel, scuba dive or fish to truly round out your South African encounter.
Jaci’s Safari Lodge
Madikwe Game Reserve, South Africa
It’s an all-round family adventure at Jaci’s Safari Lodge, where kids of all ages are welcomed with Jaci’s signature hospitality. Young explorers from five to 12 can head out on a children’s safari, morning and evening, while even those four and under are entertained with a specialised Jungle Drive, combining all the safari sights with fun facts and a toddler-friendly 45-minute duration. Families can bed down in African style in the Safari Suite, a chic and vibrant escape sleeping up to eight under its thatched roof. Roll up the canvas-panelled walls to let the inside in and spend a day by the suite’s private splash pool, or head out on an adults-only game drive while little ones under five are bathed and fed from Chef’s delicious customisable menu.
Chongwe River House
Lower Zambezi River, Zambia
For those of you with kids aged seven and up, this is a heaven-sent safari that sees you lodged amid four airy bedrooms, living space, pool and unforgettable views from all windows. Specialist guides will lead your clan on a game drive that’ll have eyes peeled and minds captivated, with meals served at kidappropriate times and opportunities to learn some of the ways of the local community (right down to the proper way to eat with your hands). If kids need a morning break from the wild, there is the choice for them to skip the game drive and play games with the house’s hostess instead. There are also chances to learn the rhythms and beats of African drums, or to follow a pro and become a ranger for the day, deciphering animal prints and droppings out in the wilderness. And let’s not forget the fantastic location. It’s right by the banks of the Chongwe River near the Zambezi, a region renowned for drawing in herds of wild elephants.
Londolozi Game Reserve
Kruger National Park, South Africa
Families have long been the heart of Londolozi, where kids discover the South African wilderness alongside their parents and the inspiring staff of the Cubs Den kids’ club, who turn the surrounding bushveld into the world’s most exciting, most personalised classroom. There are fish ponds to splash in, tents for camping out and cultural activities such as dancing, beading and drumming. Kids over the age of six are welcome to accompany their
parents on all-ages game drives, while younger children can either enjoy the fun of the Cubs Den or get out and about with a private family game drive designed to engage young minds with frequent stops and hands-on fascination. Two of Londolozi’s five camps are ideal for families who refuse to compromise on style and comfort. Resting on the shaded banks of the Sand River, the chalets of Founders Camp evoke a classic era of African safari in black and
cream with a touch of bohemian luxe. Varty Camp, home to the reserve’s massage rooms, library and boutique, is considered Londolozi’s heart, welcoming families with private
swimming pools and earthy-toned comforts.