FAMILY TRAVEL

 “The biggest lesson from Africa was that life’s joys come mostly from relationships and friendships, not from material things. I saw time and again how much fun Africans had with their families and friends and on the sports fields; they laughed all the time.”Andrew Shue (American actor)

What more could you ask for in a destination like Southern Africa, than to enjoy some family time with your children. 

  • It brings us back to a life we knew growing up
  • 100% natural settings with trees, stars and endless savannas
  •  Install’s an appreciation of the Africa’s natural beauty
  • Educational  
  • Takes away the rush of our daily lives
  • It teach children to respect our wildlife
  • Memories lasting a lifetime , and stories for generations to come
  • Hardly any time to get bored

Southern Africa has many places that accommodate families however there are some hotels and lodges that cater perfectly for families.  Below are just 3 choices that come to mind

Images courtesy of Imvelo Safaris, preferred partners of Personal Collection by Thompsons Africa , experts in Southern Africa

African Bush Camps

The Best Part About Memories is Making Them –  Travel can be a wonderful time for a family to bond and a safari is a great way to connect through disconnecting from the normal routine. Everything is new and exciting; seeing an elephant for the first time, making pizza out in nature, or learning the call of an eagle. Watch  African Bush Camps Family Adventure Safari video to see why their family-friendly camps are the best on offer.

You can see how families become a part of their family, hosts entertain children with games and activities while guides ignite a sense of wonder and curiosity in the kids they teach. Their guides are experts in explaining, in fun and interactive ways, how everything in the ecosystem is interconnected, making it an enriching educational experience. 

“Travelling in the company of those we love is home in motion.”

Leigh Hunt

Samara

“We did not inherit the land from our forefathers. We have simply borrowed it from our children.” – NATIVE AMERICAN PROVERB

Samara offers an adventure for all ages. Family-owned and family-run, they are passionate about educating the next generation of conservationists and opening their eyes to the wonders of the wild. Inspiring educational activities combined with a breathtaking malaria-free setting make Samara the epitome of a child friendly safari.

Kids Programme & Babysitting

The Samara Kids Programme, part of our child friendly safari activities, caters to children up to 12 years old.

Experienced staff will engage your children in a variety of age-appropriate, fun and educational activities whilst you relax and unwind.

Activities include:

  • ‘Outdoor classroom’ bush excursions in the lodge grounds
  • Track identification
  • Rock painting like the Khoi-San
  • African crafts
  • T-shirt making
  • Orienteering & navigating
  • Storytelling
  • Colouring-in
  • Board games

When parents are away from the lodge, babies and toddlers younger than 2 years old must be placed under the care of the experienced childminders available. This babysitting is available during game drives and over dinner. A dedicated children’s menu is available at both lodges, and special requests can be accommodated.

Activities for teenagers

Unlikely to take kindly to being grouped in with the ‘kids’, we have a host of activities ideally suited to teens and young adults.

These activities cater to those already into the Big Outdoors as well as those who simply want to get that perfect ‘Insta-worthy’ picture to show friends back home.

These include:

  • Air rifle target practice
  • Bush walks (minimum age 16 years)
  • Sleep-outs (weather dependent)
  • Conservation activities
  • Overnight trail (minimum age 16 years; subject to ranger availability)

The activities described above can also include parents, allowing you to reconnect as a family on an exciting wilderness adventures.

Sabi Sabi

ELEFUN CENTRE AT SABI SABI BUSH LODGE

Families with children are always welcomed at Sabi Sabi Bush Lodge, and children are afforded a bush and nature experience, from the youngest to the eldest members of the family. The EleFun Centre is a fully-fledged children’s facility within the lodge environs, which fosters awareness and an appreciation of nature.The EleFun Centre offer hands-on, interactive activities designed for children between the ages of 4 and 12 years. Age-appropriate bushveld themed activities are guided, and supervised, by qualified staff, and include bushcraft subjects such as bush survival, bugs & birds, tracks & signs of wildlife – all environmentally sensitive subjects that every child will find fascinating.  

There is time for creative hobbies, while the afternoon sessions are fun-filled with games. Selected rangers lead bush walks and talks, and the childcare professionals provide specially planned midday child-friendly game drives, based on the topics covered in the rangers course, at the time of your visit.

The beautifully designed centre also includes a wonderful, secure outdoor play area. While set itineraries will take place every morning and afternoon, children are welcome to enjoy the facility between formal sessions.  Parents and/or guardians can relax and enjoy the incredible safaris, have a pamper session in the Amani Spa or just kick back and enjoy some private time, knowing that their children are reveling in their own special bushveld experience.

JUNIOR RANGER PROGRAMME

10:00 – INTRODUCTION TO JUNIOR RANGER PROGRAMME (AGES 4- 12)

Childcare professionals will introduce the variety of activities that are required in order to qualify as a Junior Ranger. These will of course be based according to their ages.

11:00 – 12:00 – ADVENTURES WITH NATURE 

This is the time for interactive bush activity. Weather permitting, a Ranger – or the EleFun co-ordinator – will lead the children in and around the lodge grounds on a walk, and for the older children there are additional midday educational drives out into the bush. The young Junior Ranger group will learn interesting facts about the Sabi Sabi bushveld and the animals, e.g. bugs & birds, bush survival or tracks & signs of nature.

12:00 – 13:00 – HOBBIES AND CRAFTS

In cases of inclement weather, children will enjoy an arts and crafts session, where boys and girls can enjoy hands-on projects, all relating to nature and the natural world – this could get messy but they definitely won’t be bored.

13:00 – 14:00 – CLOSED FOR LUNCH WITH PARENTS OR GUARDIANS

14:00 – 15:30 – GAME TIME

We encourage all the children to join us for our indoor and outdoor afternoon games which are really fun as well as educational. There is a spacious outdoor area with an obstacle course, a maze, open field to play soccer or enjoy some water sports and jungle gyms. There are also general knowledge quizzes based on African animals and they learn different animal sounds too. 


Images courtesy of Imvelo Safaris

OUR TREEHOUSES & SLEEP OUTS IN AFRICA

If you long for adventure, romance and the true African bush, we highly recommend the following treehouses or sleeps outs.  This is a once in a lifetime opportunity and we suggest that you try this out for at least one night or a few more if you can venture to explore and escape listening to the wild, go to sleep and wake up.

LOSIABA STAR BEDS – LAIKIPIA NOTHERN KENYA

Poised on a rocky kopje, the Loisaba Star Beds command sweeping views over an undulating valley and a permanent waterhole, frequented by resident wildlife. Handcrafted four-poster wooden beds sit on raised wooden platforms jutting out from a thatched-roof accommodation and are rolled out each night for guests to enjoy the most memorable sleep under the endless African sky. Rustically designed to complement the surrounding environment, each star bed is individually built in harmony with the natural rocky features, incorporating a sitting area, and open plan bathroom with a view.

A team of traditional Samburu & Laikipiak Maasai warriors welcome and host you with their customary warm African hospitality.  Rising early to watch sunrise from your Star Bed with a comforting hot beverage, the day ahead promises adventure, with a myriad of activities by which to experience Loisaba. A day of fun is rounded off with drinks by the log fire in the Star Beds lounge, sharing tall tales of the African bush, with the tale-telling continuing over a delicious shared dinner.

Loisaba Star Beds is a truly authentic and intimate African experience.

Recently purchased by The Nature Conservancy and partnered with Space for Giants elephant foundation, Loisaba Conservancy, a functioning ranch, is a success story of conservation. Home to elephant, a healthy population of lion, the rare wild dog and an abundance of other species, Loisaba is a prime example of successful collaboration between conservation, community, ranching and tourism.

 

THE RUBONDO ISLAND TREE HOUSE SUITE

Rubondo Island – in the southwest corner of Lake Victoria – is for those seeking the thrill of adventure in a truly wild area, all but untouched by man. The camp – the only lodgings on this verdant island – immerses you in this lush and unspoilt ecosystem.

From its lakefront location to the eco-friendly design of the eight fabulous cottages, the camp offers unrivalled access to this one-of-a-kind destination, where elephant roam wild, colourful birds and butterflies flit through the pristine indigenous rainforest and the waters teem with hippo, crocodile and the iconic Nile perch.

Rubondo Tree House Sleep Out is satellite suite to the main Rubondo Island Lodge – a fun and romantic one-night addition to your safari. The tree house Suite is an easy thirty-metre walk from the end of Rubondo Island Camp’s private beach along a jungle path to a wooden walkway that gradually climbs upwards against a steep hillside towards the tree canopy.

 The Rubondo Island Tree House Suite offers all the comforts of the camp’s cottages, such as hot and cold running water that flows into a deep-soaking copper bathtub and an antique sink basin, no less. While there isn’t any electricity, one might rather refer to it as an “email-free” escape. You will never be too far away and always be able to communicate with the staff at the main Rubondo Island Lodge so you should always feel safe. The Tree House leaves you with a walkie talkie and the time and space to relax, take in the vast African sky, and enjoy your solitude.  The Rubondo Tree House Sleep Out Suite itself is an entirely open structure that is partially protected from the elements by a canvas canopy. There are no predators on this remote island, and high up in the canopy guests are safe from the roaming elephants and hippos that may pass below.

 

LION SANDS TREE HOUSES – SABI SANDS KRUGER SOUTH AFRICA 

The Lion Sands Luxury Treehouses are the ultimate bush bedrooms. Arrive at sunset to a scrumptious picnic dinner and spend the hours of dusk fully appreciating the vastness of the bushveld as it transforms from day to night. Slumber directly beneath the Milky Way where you may well lose count of the shooting stars.

The Treehouses at Lion Sands are for the hopeless romantic (ideal as a wedding or anniversary treat), the adventurer, the person who needs a complete disconnect and digital detox, or the wildlife enthusiast who prefers the bush au-natural. All of the Treehouses are securely constructed above the ground, where animals will remain at a safe and comfortable distance. Our Field Guide will provide a full orientation when he drops guests off before sunset and will remain on call via the radio left behind until it is time to leave the following morning after sunrise and a good cup of coffee!

The Treehouses, including Chalkley Treehouse and Kingston Treehouse (Sabi Sand), and Tinyeleti Treehouse (Kruger National Park) are booked in conjunction with your accommodation.

Pack an overnight bag with your essentials, while leaving your other belongings back in your room at camp.

 

THE NEST MARA RIVER KENYA 

What does it take to find the perfect tree house? We looked all over the private Pusinkariak area we call home.

Located on the western side of the Mara River and only open to access by foot – thick with trees, valleys, rocks – we kept circling back to one particular spot: fifty metres from the water looking along a stretch that is filled by a raucous pod of hippo. A line of Warburgia stretches along a little draw, and a single tree at the end shows scars: a scratching post for a resident male leopard. The salt lick luring the impala leads to a hippo funnel and their small sandy beach.

Our tree house, ‘The Nest’, is perched out on a limb in a lone Warburgia tree overlooking the Mara River. A mere meander away from Serian, it’s the perfect picnic spot after a trek through the bushes, and doubles as a romantic overnight tryst for two: think soup under the stars to the sounds of harrumphing hippo…

  • Set in our own 1,500-acre private conservation area, not far upriver from Ngare Serian.
  • Perfect for a night out for those staying at Serian or Ngare Serian.
  • Also, an idyllic picnic spot to incorporate into a walking safari.
  • Built 12ft into a Warburgia tree, overlooking the Mara River.
  • 2 cosy nest-shaped double beds, plus plenty of space for additional bedrolls for kids.
  • Flush toilet up the tree, and bucket shower down below on request.
  • Candlelight & kerosene lanterns.
  • All-weather and rain-proof.
  • Kitted out with infra-red spotlight and night-vision camera for watching nocturnal creatures.
  • Book a romantic night in The Nest in the middle of your stay at Serian or Ngare Serian.

 

KUALA DESERT LODGE SOSSUSVLEI DUNES NAMIBIA

Kulala Desert Lodge is situated at the foot of the majestic Sossusvlei Dunes and is the closest location to Sossusvlei (via a private gate exclusive to Wilderness Safaris vehicles).

Scenic nature drives and walks are available, while electric ‘fat bikes’ are a fun way to explore the spectacular open plains. Top off an extraordinary desert experience with a soaring hot air balloon flight over the dune field.

The camp comprises 23 thatched and canvas “kulalas” (including two family units), each built on a wooden platform, with a flat rooftop for sleep-outs under the stars.

The main area includes a pool and wraparound veranda overlooking a waterhole.

 

Come and experience these wonderful adventures where you will hear the noises of wildlife and see stars for miles.  Its a romantic and should be on everybody’s bucket list.

Written by Lauren Maker