5 wonderful family-friendly luxury safari lodges in South Africa

There are few experiences more exhilarating than driving through the African bush on an open Landrover, under the gaze of the setting sun – as you observe wild animals in their natural habitat. And there are few experiences more gratifying than watching a child experience this for the first time. Their wide-eyed wonder at seeing majestic creatures that they have only seen in storybooks and movies, will create memories that will last forever. South Africa boasts an abundance of family-friendly safari lodges that welcome children of all ages. Here are some of the best.

Morukuru Family

The three opulent Morukuru Family lodges in the magnificent malaria-free Madikwe Game Reserve are the ultimate in exclusivity. They are offered on a sole-use basis. Each lodge includes its own butler, personal chef, private game ranger, tracker, nanny (if required) and game drive vehicle.

On arrival, children are handed activity packs designed to keep them interactive on game drives. The friendly staff will keep them entertained with activities like bush walks, and nature-themed arts and crafts, and the personal chef will make whatever they like. For kids who can’t live without modern technology and comforts, they have access to satellite television, a DVD player, a library, board games and wi-fi. This is also a great place for multi-generational family get-togethers.

Mhondoro Game Lodge

Mhondoro Game Lodge in the malaria-free Welgevonden Game Reserve, has two two-bedroomed suites and a villa, which is ideal for bigger families. Smaller children will enjoy the open-air play area while older kids will enjoy the recreation room which is stocked with a PlayStation, board games and movies. Kiddies “bumble drives” can be arranged for families with children under six years. For parents wanting to go on the normal game drives, babysitting services are available.

The food here is amazing and there is a special kids’ menu at mealtimes. Other highlights of one’s stay here are the elephants that come to drink from the lodge’s heated saline swimming pool and the underground game-viewing hide, which brings one at eye level with the wildlife drinking from the waterhole in front of the lodge.

Madikwe Safari Lodge

The family suites at Lelapa Lodge in Madikwe Game Reserve are bright and cozy and have separate bedrooms with bunk beds for two kids. The swimming pool here is no ordinary pool. It has a waterhole right in front of it, where animals come to quench their thirst. It also has a slush machine for the kids and pool noodles for them to play with.

Young wildlife enthusiasts will be entertained and educated at the Eco-House, where there are lots of activities (like arts and crafts), live creatures (like tarantulas) and remains of dead creatures (like cool skulls and horns) to keep them occupied. Field guides will take them on bush walks, teach them bush skills like dung-tracking, and nurture their love for the bush.

Sabi Sabi Bush Lodge

Sabi Sabi Bush Lodge is situated in the acclaimed Sabi Sand Private Reserve which borders the world-famous Kruger National Park. It is the only Sabi Sabi lodge that welcomes children and features exquisite villas that can accommodate them. At mealtimes, there is a special kids corner with child-friendly treats. There are special game drives for younger children.

The Elefun centre is a vibrant children’s playroom within the lodge grounds which offers interactive, age-appropriate activities. Professional child-minders take care of the kids and inspire them to learn more about nature through arts and crafts, and fun-filled bushveld games.

Jacis Safari Lodge

Jacis Safari Lodge in Madikwe Game Reserve offers special family safaris. There are shorter “jungle drives” for younger kids. Children can be accommodated in the private Nare and Safari Suites at Jaci’s Safari Lodge or in the Tented Suites, by special request. Baby-sitting services and earlier evening meals for kids are also available.

Children are made to feel special, taught bush skills and taken on bush activity walks. They also have a playroom and swimming pools at their disposal. The swing bridge that they will walk on as they go to game drives and return from them will make them feel like true adventurers.

With so many family-friendly options available, now’s a great time to introduce your children to the magic of the African bush and give them memories that will last a lifetime.

Comments (24)

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  1. Joanna says:

    It’s great that there are options for families with children to enjoy the beauty of nature by staying overnight in a safari lodge. I like how these lodges have specific services that help adults relax as well (like babysitting or early meals for children) but also keep the children entertained, like the waterhole in front of the pool from Madikwe Safari Lodge. The best lodge for me has to be the Morukuru Family! Having a personal butler and a chef is pure luxury! :)

    • Sara Essop says:

      Hi Joanna. Yes, that’s what these lodges were aiming for. The parents and the kids can each enjoy their own activities, so that everyone has fun. Having a personal butler and chef is pure luxury, indeed.

  2. Lisa says:

    I have no kids (yet!) and the thought of visiting any of these excite me. I’m familiar with Madikwe Lodge, but not heard of the others. Kids will surely enjoy learning bush skills at Jacis Safari Lodge, I would too!

  3. Maggie says:

    These are awesome! I had no idea there were so many family friendly ones. I always hear that safaris are meant for adults and older kids. I have a 5 year old who has been asking to go and I’ve been hesitant. But now I just might take her sooner than expected!

    • Sara Essop says:

      Hi Maggie. So many people believe that safaris are only for adults and older kids. Although older children may have the patience to sit on longer safaris, it is so much more gratifying to see the smaller kids getting excited when they see wildlife.

  4. Raghav says:

    This is just so amazing and since we plan to visit Africa in the near future as a family, it is really helpful.The Mhondoro Game Lodge really looks wonderful and I believe I have seen a video of the elephants drinking water from the pool. I think your posts really breaks a myth that game lodges are more for adults and it’s nice to see so many options for families too.

    • Sara Essop says:

      Thanks Raghav, I think that you should definitely take your kids on a safari. I had also seen photos of elephants drinking from Mhondoro’s swimming pool before I went there and was hoping that I’d get to actually see it while I was there. I was lucky enough to see it twice.

  5. I can totally relate to this article as I have been on a safari and it is a wonderful experience. SO good that I definitely want to do it again with my son. The Sabi Sabi Bush Lodge is probably my favourite and its awesome that its soo close to the Kruger National Park.

    • Sara Essop says:

      Hi David. I think that after you do a safari for the first time, you will want to do it again and again. I certainly feel that way. And you can’t go wrong with Sabi Sabi Bush Lodge…or any of the other lodges on this list.

  6. Elisabeth says:

    We are planning our trip to South Africa and this is exactly what we needed! I am glad I stumbled upon this, as we will definitely include Madikew Safari Lodge. It just seems so amazing to have a pool where elephants can drink from and it all seems stunning. I think they’re great places to take the kids and make some unforgettable memories!

    • Sara Essop says:

      I hope you enjoy your trip to South Africa, Elizabeth. Just remember, a trip to South Africa is incomplete without a safari. I’m sure your kids will love it.

  7. Janiel says:

    This looks absolutely AMAZING!I really want to go to South Africa on a Safari, its on my bucket list and I literally made an audible ‘AAAWWWEE’ when I saw the pic of the mama elephant and her baby! SO FREAKING CUTE!!!

    • Sara Essop says:

      It really is amazing Janiel and I think that it should be on everyone’s bucket list. On my last safari, I saw baby elephants, baby giraffes, baby lions and baby zebras with their mothers. They were all so adorable.

  8. South Africa is a very beautiful place. I have gone there 2 times in my life. My travel was very fantastic. I stayed in another lodge. That was also very wonderful. But I appreciate your work. You have given a list of best lodge in South Africa.

    • Sara Essop says:

      I’m glad you enjoyed your trip to South Africa, Rashmi. We call it “A world in one country” because it has so many wonderfully diverse experiences. Although a safari should be at the top of everyone’s list.

  9. Soumya Nambiar says:

    Wish I had so many options to choose from while growing up in Africa. But this is so nice to have so many options for children in luxury safari lodges. Definitely would love my own butler as well. Malaria free also is a good enough incentive for me.

  10. Rhiannon says:

    I’d never considered safari a very family-friendly adventure (I imagine kids getting bored in the middle of nowhere, running off and getting eaten or something), but on reading this I can see that there are so many lodge options available for families with kids! And come on, what kid doesn’t love slush machines?!

  11. Sara Essop says:

    Hi Soumya, I think that hotels and lodges are realising that more people want to travel with their families these days and so, they are going all out to cater for them, which is great.

  12. Heraa says:

    Wow I would love to go on this kind of adventure. It feels like a great escape from daily routine and out in nature. I wouldn’t have imagined all those facilities being provided there. The lodging is looking so lush and comfy.

  13. Jen says:

    Amazing! All of these look like such fantastic experiences, I can imagine that it is indeed exhilarating. An African safari would actually be the ideal family holiday, especially for young families. I really like the sound of the Morukuru Family lodge because of how personal and exclusive it is. My ideal would likely be Mhondoro!

  14. aneesa says:

    Amazing travel ideas , do any of these lodges cater halal certified meals. I have tried to find fully catered halal travel options in south Africa and find it to be very limited especially if one is not fully satisfied with halal friendly. Hope to create an awarness in the south African travel industry.

    • Sara Essop says:

      Good question Aneesa. The good news is that most of these lodges will be able to arrange halaal food for you if it is specified to them when making your booking. All the best,

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