What better way is there to educate, enthral and entertain your children during the holidays than to share a thrilling family safari experience in nature’s own playground? With improved access and an increasing number of luxury lodges expertly catering for families, seeking the ‘Big Five’, no longer needs to be a big effort. So, why not take a path-less-travelled this year and create your own memorable adventure amongst the wilds of South Africa, the sand dunes of Namibia or lush national parks of Sri Lanka?
Just an eight-hour flight south from London and families can arrive in sunny South Africa — without jet lag — ready to explore the great African bush. It is only a short onward flight from Johannesburg to the malaria-free district of Madikwe Game Reserve in the North West Province and Madikwe Hills Private Game Lodge. Set within 75,000 hectares of safari park and situated on a rocky outcrop, surrounded by age-old Tamboti trees, families can discover the exclusive Little Madikwe camp. With a private house option, the exclusive camp is fully staffed, with a private guide, chef, butler, childminder and dedicated safari vehicle. Welcoming children of all ages, it allows families to dictate the pace of their safari experience in tailored style. The region is home to the fabled ‘Big Five’ (lion, buffalo, elephant, rhino and leopard) and over 66 mammal species, plus it is renowned for its packs of rare African Wild Dog. Having marvelled at cheetah, giraffe, kudu and a spectacle of bird species, guests can later relax on their private deck, in their private pool or retreat to the shade of the impressive lodge interior (an entertainment centre is available for children reluctant to embrace a complete digital detox!).
Another lodge located in a malaria-free area is the exclusive Tswalu Kalahari, where guests arrive by private plane and can explore South Africa’s largest private game reserve at their leisure. With a maximum of just 30 guests at any time, here, families can explore the uniquely arid savannah and admire diverse wildlife, such as meerkats, aardvarks and the Honey Badger, enjoy bespoke horse-riding safaris, take part in vital conservation work or become inspired by the brilliant starry skies.
For those wishing to combine a safari visit with a longer African tour (where they are not limited to malaria-free areas) there are, of course, larger luxury lodges available, namely Sir Richard Branson’s Ulusaba Private Game Reserve with its dedicated, family-friendly, Rock Lodge. Boasting arguably the best view within the famous Sabi Sand area, families are spoilt for accommodation options, child amenities and specially tailored activities. Their dedicated Cubs Club and fun-filled children’s back-packs are bound to be a hit with your little explorers!
Should you embarking on a self-drive holiday along South Africa’s popular Garden Route, Grootbos Private Nature Reserve in Gansbaai provides a unique ‘Marine Big Five experience’, with beach picnics, pony rides and vast coastline available to explore from its family-friendly Garden Lodge. Further along the coast in the Eastern Cape, approximately an hour outside of Port Elizabeth, Shamwari Game Reserve makes for an ideal holiday finale. A world-leader in conservation and wildlife rehabilitation, the reserve boasts two family-friendly lodges — Riverdene Family Lodge and Sarili Lodge — offering flexibility, along with the warmest of South African welcomes. Being malaria-free, these properties are both easily incorporated into a wider African adventure.
For families with older children perhaps wishing to venture a little further, the equally well-appointed, yet far more remote, Four Seasons Safari Lodge Serengeti in Tanzania provides an unforgettable luxury family holiday in the heart of Serengeti National Park. Offering raised walkways, a Discovery Centre, Maasai warriors as guides, vast wilderness and accommodation overlooking a thriving watering-hole, there is plenty to captivate every member of the family. With specially created family itineraries, private dining in the bush and Kijana Kids Club, parents and children alike cannot fail to be amazed by the breathtaking wildlife and sheer sense of space.
Crossing from East Africa to the south west, Namibia’s dramatic sand scapes, diverse wildlife (including significant cheetah population), plus vast Namib Desert draw families for an altogether unique safari experience. Ideal for families with teenagers, this desert landscape is known for rhinoceros, giraffe and oryx, not to mention the incredible salt pans of Etosha National Park in the north. Perfect for budding photographers, keen artists and dune enthusiasts, Namibia’s boutique lodges work especially well as a circuit.
Whether it is Africa calling your family name, or another continent altogether that beckons, there is a bounty of culture, wildlife and striking landscapes just crying out for families to discover. Chena Huts in Sri Lanka, for example, is an ideal base for spotting leopards in Yala National Park, while the vast wilderness of Canada boasts bears and wolves to thrill wayward teens. And, of course, North America is blessed with the raw beauty of Yellowstone National Park with its bison elk and antelope. Quite simply, the world is waiting! So hear the call of the wild and let Elegant Resorts create an enchanting adventure that will amaze, beguile and mesmerise every member of your family — a luxury safari experience to last a lifetime and beat the bane of boredom.