Without a doubt, most South Africans have experienced the call of the bush at some point in their childhood. Whether your early family safari memories are of a baboon that stole your pitstop bacon and egg sarmie in the Kruger or meeting a lone rhino on the short walk between bird hide and car, we’ve all got them!
At Pentravel, we love to LOVE a bush break. Give us a boerie on the braai under a twinkling sky and the calls of hyenas in the darkness, as we go all goosebumpy. And the generally tech-free and pro-family environment makes it a pretty special gift to give to our own kids and a new generation of travellers.
We’ve rounded up our best family safari ideas, game reserve inspiration and bush breaks the kids will love by chatting to a few of our seasoned Pentravel safari experts.
Kruger National Park
An easy drive from Johannesburg and a quick gander from anywhere in Mpumalanga, the vast Kruger Park is a staple on South African safari holidays. From the wildlife-rich South, to the interesting Central roads and the unique North, the park has its fill of various accommodation options, camps, lodges and even a golf course!
Why we love it? Super kid-friendly with safe camps, well-stocked camp shops, swimming pools and the sound of the wild.
Local girl Monique has had her fair share of family safari memories and having been to the incredible Timbavati Game Reserve over 16 times, we pretty much consider her an expert! There’s a variety of accommodation (from 3* to 5* luxury), a more private experience than the adjacent Kruger Park and easy transfers from Hoedspruit to your lodge.
Why we love it? Home to some of South Africa’s rare white lions and filled with exceptional wildlife.
Motswari Private Game Reserve
Located within the greater Timbavati is another local favourite – Motswari Private Game Reserve. With excellent rangers and guide who go above and beyond, Motswari offers an exceptional place for a family safari. For those slightly older visitors, guided safari walks and interest talks offer a unique aspect to this luxury lodge.
Why we love it? Motswari’s renowned guides, rangers and staff go above and beyond.
Mabalingwe is a short drive from Pretoria and offers an excellent choice for a weekend bush break. Relaxed and incredibly family friendly, there are also resort-style activities to keep the kids entertained, such as tennis, a swimming pool, mini golf and kids’ area. Plus, you can opt into your own game drives and stay self-catering, making this an easy and relaxed option for families.
Why we love it? The Oasis Bar is great for sundowners, and there are loads of kid-friendly activities.
This famous Eastern Cape national park is situated just an hour from Port Elizabeth and is also 100% malaria-free, making it a great option for families. As part of the SanParks stable, Addo has a variety of self-catering chalets, as well as some luxury camps so there is something for every palate. Although home to the full set of the Big 5, Addo’s major attraction is its large elephant population!
Why we love it? Easy to combine with an Eastern Cape beach holiday or Garden Route meander.
Sanbona Private Game Reserve
Situated close to Barrydale just off the R62, Sanbona Private Game Reserve is a little slice of luxury amid the arid Karoo. Family-friendly Gondwana Lodge has been built in the traditional style of a thatched Karoo homestead, and offers a wide variety of kid-friendly activities: a dedicated Kids on Safari programe, interpretive nature walks around camp, kids activity books and a children’s zone for indoor play and fun. But parents will love it too! From spa treatments to Big 5 game drives, incredible cuisine, wilderness walks and stargazing, there’s plenty for everyone at Sanbona.
Why we love it? Luxury Big 5 safari experience close to Cape Town and entirely child-friendly.
St Lucia Wetlands
Now known as the iSimangaliso Wetland Park, the Greater St Lucia area was declared South Africa’s first Natural World Heritage Site in 1999 and its natural abundance is breathtaking! Explore this pristine wonderland with game drives, snorkeling at Cape Vidal, a hippo boat cruise, turtle cruises and even bush and boat safaris. There’s a wide variety of accommodation options to suit your family’s needs too.
Why we love it? The simple natural wonder is incredible; there really is something for everyone!
Ideally situated just a few hours from Cape Town is Gondwana Game Reserve, featuring luxury safari lodge accommodation and filled with all the perks a private reserve can offer! From guided nature walks through fynbos vegetation, to bird-watching and Big 5 game drives, a Junior Ranger Program for the kids and a relaxing pampering at the Spa, there’s plenty for everyone.
Why we love it? A fully luxury safari experience in the Western Cape, easily combines with a Garden Route holiday.
If you’re looking to plan a local bush break the kids (and you) will love, South Africa is filled with both well-known parks and reserves, and hidden gems. Contact Pentravel today for our best recommended family safari packages.