OUR TOP 5 CHILD-FRIENDLY SAFARI LODGES
There is nothing more rewarding then taking your children on safari in Africa. The joy as they see their first elephant, the wonder as they encounter their first giraffe, the excitement as you drive past their first lion in the wild. A safari is the chance for them to spend time in nature like they’ve never experienced, learning about new flora and fauna.
It’s also a chance for you introduce them to the concept of conservation. Many safari lodges have sustainability deeply ingrained in their ethos, making them the perfect place to educate your children on wildlife conservation and sustainable tourism.
And most importantly, a safari offers you the chance to relax and unwind. Safari lodges that cater to children run separate safari programmes for the littles one so that you can also have some time to yourself.
Here are our top 5 child-friendly safari lodges if you’re planning a family-friendly safari.
1. Lalibela Game Reserve
Lalibela Game Reserve is a malaria-free game reserve in South Africa’s Eastern Cape. It is home to the Big Five, an abundance of plains game such as zebra and giraffe, and predators such as cheetah and hyena. The primary focus of Lalibela is the conservation of the wildlife and indigenous flora.
Lalibela has 6 lodges, Mark’s Camp being their child-friendly safari lodge. It is made up of 8 stone and thatch chalets. The décor can be described as relaxed Pan-African style. The biggest selling point is the large waterhole in front of the lodge which is home to a resident hippo and her baby.
Lalibela has a wonderful safari programme for children. They have separate game drives designed especially for the little ones – it is a sensory safari designed to expose children to the sights, smells, sounds, feel and taste of Africa. They also have activities between meals and game drives such as rhino t-shirt printing, making African masks, and making wind mobiles.
2. Lukimbi Safari Lodge, Kruger National Park
Lukimbi Safari Lodge is a luxury safari lodge located on the Lwakahle River, within the iconic Kruger National Park . The lodge is in a prime spot in South Africa, perfectly situated to ensure exquisite views and spectacular wild animal sightings for the whole family. The focus at Lukimbi is on dazzling visitors with excellent service and the natural wonderful world around them!
Lukimbi Safari Lodge offers 14 classic, comfortable and luxurious suites, all spacious enough to accommodate families. The larger suites includes a private pool to keep the children entertained for hours. The decor is African-inspired, classic and elegant.
The aim of the lodge is to keep all family members entertained, safe and happy during their stay in the exclusive game lodge with an excellent children’s programme. Children can enjoy game drives and guided bush walks, treasure hunts, arts and crafts, and interactive sessions with the rangers, while parents can relax in the spa. There is marshmallow roasting, casting tracks from Plaster of Paris, and game drives. For the younger ones, Lukimbi offers babysitting and a shallow kids pool. The main pool area allows the older children to see elephants drinking from the pools in the river nearby.
3. Jaci’s Lodges, Madikwe Game Reserve
Situated in the magnificent, malaria-free safari destination, Madikwe Game Reserve, is Jaci’s Lodges. Jaci’s Lodges focus on creating the ultimate authentic African safari experience with stunning safari-style accommodation, a variety of safari activities, open-air dining and of course, a wonderful children’s safari programme.
The Nare Suite and the Safari Suite cater to families with children. The Nare Suite can accommodate up to 6 people, 4 adults and 2 children. The decor is homely, African-inspired and colourful. Fun additions include a ‘starpod’, private plunge pool, eco-friendly amenities and fireside starlit dining as often as possible. The Safari Suite is perfect for bigger families, sleeping up to 4 adults and 4 children. The decor is bold, bright and African; and the lodge has the same fun additions as the Nare Suite. Both suites have their own private game viewing vehicle.
Jaci’s loves having families stay and as a result has a number of activities to make the children’s safari experience extra special. They have jungle drives on the private vehicles of the Nare and Safari Suites. Children can also enjoy guided river park walks along the Marico River and swim in the bush swimming pools. The submerged Terrapin Hide allows the little ones to watch the elephants drink from their waterhole. The camp’s chefs love cooking and baking, and the children get to join in with cookie and baking decorating. Another favourite activity for the little ones and the guides is track moulding from Plaster of Paris. The Jaci’s Pups Club hamper is given to each child and is full of safari activities.
4. Footsteps Camp, the Okavango Delta
Ker & Downey’s Footsteps Camp lies in a remote part of the Okavango Delta and offers an authentic and rustic camping safari without compromising on luxury. The camp is intimate, with only 3 tents. The focus of Footsteps Camp is on guided walking safaris, allowing you to gain a deeper understanding of how the wildlife lives and how the bush works. The camp is simplistic in style which allows it to perfectly create an authentic safari experience.
Footsteps Camp has designed a specialist family safari known as “Young Explorers”. This specially designed programme gives families the opportunity to discover the magic of the African wilderness together. The programme gives the family exclusive use of the camp, with a professional guide, private chef, waiter, housekeeper and dedicated Mokoro guides.
The emphasis of Young Explorers is on learning how to track game, both on foot and in 4×4 safari vehicles. Children learn how to identify different animal spoor, identify a range of birds, pole a mokoro, drive a game vehicle, and fish. At the end of the programme, each child receives a Young Explorers certificate, t-shirt, cap and water bottle. In short, it’s a safari scouts programme!
5. Linyanti Ebony, Botswana
Nestled between the Okavango Delta and Chobe National Park lies Linyati Channel, a wildlife haven. Built on raised decking overlooking the Linyanti Marsh lies Linyanti Ebony. Intimate, authentic and eco-conscious, the camp has panoramic views of the beautiful surrounding wilderness. The camp is home to fantastic wildlife including as lion, wild dog and leopard.
The décor is elegant, and strikes the perfect balance between contemporary items and those that speak to the golden days of safari. An expansive lounge and dining area, plunge pool, cosy fire circle and boma make the for the ideal space to reconnect as a family. A wonderful highlight is the scenic helicopter ride included for families staying 3 nights or more.
The Ngwana Club is the name of the family-friendly programme offered by the camp. Ngwana is the Setswana word for “explorer”. Ngwana Club offers a variety of safari activities for the little ones. Nature walks around the camp with a guide and parent teach them how to identify animal spoor, discover the traditional uses of plants, bird watching and searching for the Little Five. The camp’s child specialist guides have traditional story-telling where they share the history and folklore of the area and their people with the children. The guides dress in traditional tribal clothing and perform a play accompanied by an interactive drumming session. There is also an arts and crafts station where children can bead, draw, colour and paint.