Today (September 5, 2016): best African safari adventures for families.
An African safari simply has to be on every traveller’s must do list. The stunning African wilderness, the chance to see tribal dances and of course catch a glimpse of some of the world’s most captivating animals in their natural habitat. Pursuit of the Big 5 (lion, African elephant, Cape buffalo, leopard, and rhinoceros) is sometimes vital, sometimes a bonus; but always rather wonderful and totally memorable. The luxury travel industry is leaving its mark on the classic safari holiday big time. No longer do you have to camp in the most basic facilities; comfort, style and indeed luxury has reached the African Safari! To assist you in finding your ideal accommodation, I have compiled a top 10 list of the best African safari adventures for families.
What is your favorite African safari adventure? Leave a comment or take my poll below.
Situated in the Sabi Sand Reserve, which is right next to the unfenced Kruger National Park, these areas make up one of South Africa’s most incredible and pristine preserved wilderness sanctuaries. Expect to see a high concentration of wildlife on the early morning and evening safari drives, including the Big Five, and frequent leopard sightings. The lodge is located on a large waterhole, allowing interesting game and bird viewing from the comfort of the camp itself; the elephants love to drink and splash about and hippos frequent the lodge lawns and you hear them grunting into the night! The lodge’s accommodations are spacious and luxurious and the staff have an addictive enthusiasm. Arathusa’s luxury African spa uses locally sourced spa products and offers numerous signature massages, facials and grooming treatments.
- Hotel website: Arethusa Safari Lodge
Located on the banks the Zambezi River, just upstream of Victoria Falls, Tongabezi Lodge is a romantic safari hideaway. The selection of houses and cottages are beautifully styled using furniture and accessories from all over Africa. Truly spectacular Victoria Falls is the ‘must do’ trip from Tongabezi. The inclusive river cruises take you directly from the lodge up close and personal to sandy islands as you drift past the hippos and crocodiles. Your valet, will bring you juice and pressed coffee in the morning and will draw your al fresco bubble bath on the veranda overlooking the river in the evening. Guests can dine beside the river or on their private terrace. The sunsets are simply stunning. Expect wonderfully quiet nights except for the grunting hippos at the river’s edge!
- Hotel website: Tongabezi Safari Lodge
I would say this is easily the best safari lodge in Malawi, the multi-award winning Tongole Wilderness Lodge is designed like a raised treehouse – offering the perfect observation platform to watch the elephants that come right up to the decks and drink at the river. Highlights here include nature walks, adventurous hikes up Kasukusuku or Chipata mountain and canoeing and fishing on the Bua River. The boutique camp consists of just four riverside suites and a family cottage, they have mastered the luxury safari by offering mammoth sized super comfy beds surrounded by billowing curtains of netting, powerful showers and huge private sunken baths with a view. Elegant dinners are served romantically lit by flickering lanterns. Elephants are regular visitors to the lodge; crocodiles, monkeys and various antelope are often seen, as well as a host of rare birds and let’s not forget those awesome stars.
- Hotel website: Tongole Wilderness Lodge
Chongwe River Camp is located on the vast Lower Zambezi National Park, on the confluence of the Chongwe and Zambezi Rivers. The 4092 km2 National Park hosts good populations of lion and leopard. Enormous herds of elephant are often seen at the river’s edge and ‘island hopping’ buffalo and waterbuck are also common. Chongwe is one of the oldest and most established Safari companies in the Lower Zambezi. The picturesque camp looks out upon the breath-taking mountains and is surrounded by cool lawns with views over the rivers. Rooms are large, with well-appointed tents under thatch and luxury open-air bathrooms. Activities here include day and night drives, boats cruises, walking safaris or their flagship canoeing where you watch the elephants drink, or simply sit back and enjoying your sundowner soaking up the magnificent vista of the Lower Zambezi.
- Hotel website: Change River Safari Camp
Chinzombo is situated on a sweeping curve of the unspoiled wilderness of the Luangwa River which attracts large volumes of hippos and crocodiles, as well as over sixty species of mammals and over four hundred species of birds. The camp is situated on sixty acres of private land and is shaded by ancient trees. Each ultra-luxurious villa at Chinzombo has an open plan design with a partially covered open deck, private plunge pool and a cooled sleeping area, along with a huge luxury bathroom. This camp offers direct access into one of the most game rich areas of the National Park making Chinzombo a truly special place.
- Hotel website: Chinzombo
Wake up to a warm breeze, the distant roar of lions and a symphony of birds. Step out onto your very own veranda and down to the infinity pool where you can gaze at the spray from the nearby Victoria Falls. The open fronted cabins are made of teak and local stone and are open fronted, or there are closed more colonial style rooms with brick and tiles. Take a guided tour of the Victoria Falls, a game drive, or just laze by the pool and marvel at the views and the mist from Victoria Falls in the distance. If you laze for long enough the wildlife just might come and find you!
- Hotel website: Stanley Safari Lodge
In the heart of Zuzuland, less than 3 hours from Durban, you find the Rhino River Lodge on a private 23,000 hectare reserve. Rooms have decks which overlook the river or dry river bed depending on when you visit. Expect to see Elephants steps away from the lodge (including babies if you are lucky) plus lions, cheetahs, leopards and of course rhinos can all be found on the reserve. The lounge and dining areas are comfortable and inviting. The pool is gorgeous and allows a good “cool down” after the hot day.
- Hotel website: Rhino River Lodge
Makakatana Bay Lodge is a 4 star property and this ‘home from home’ lodge, provides comfort and a host of safaris excursions. Located in the Zululand/Maputaland region on the banks of Lake St Lucia, this is the only Lodge in the iSimangaliso Wetland Park. The truly fabulous location offers unspoiled wilderness beaches, vast wetlands and game reserves all combined into one reserve. The owners have put their heart and soul into this friendly 6 cabin camp which has been in their family for several generations. Experience their morning and afternoon game drives, boat cruises floating among the many hippos and crocs on lake St Lucia and a combined game drive and beach visit to a private beach on the eastern side of the park. It is the ultimate bush and beach destination!
- Hotel website: Makakatana Bay Lodge
Set in the malaria-free region of the Waterberg in South Africa, two private bush homes: Ant’s Nest and Ant’s Hill, have been built by Ant and Tessa Baber in harmony with the environment on their 12,000 acre private game reserve. The two properties are the perfect blend of luxury and simplicity with an added dose of family charm and bush views that extend as far as your eyes can see. The horse-back safaris really set the lodge apart and are a “must-do”; there’s something unique and rewarding about riding in the wilderness and encountering Africa’s wildlife in its natural environment. Rides cater for all levels of riding ability and experience, so kids to beginner to seasoned horsemen/horsewomen will find their ideal pace. Other safari experiences include guided walks, walking safaris, day and night game drives, mountain biking, fishing and more. It’s safe to say that whether you’re 9 years old or 99 years old, you’ll never run out of things to do at Ant’s!
- Hotel website: The Ant Collection
Cottars 1920s Safari Camp was one of the first permanent luxury tented camps to take guests on safaris in Kenya. Little has changed since the 1920s and it extends an era of luxury and quality. Accommodation consists of 6 Luxury Safari Tents, 1 Honeymoon Tent, 4 Family Tents all ensuite, very spacious and with large private verandas, plus Cottar’s Private House with 5 ensuite bedrooms, private living /dining area, staff, vehicles, guide and a 25m swimming pool. The camp overlooks the Mara and Serengeti Plains bordering the Serengeti, Maasai Mara and Loliondo reserves. There is an abundance of wildlife; spot the big five and choose your season carefully, as the camp is in the path of the great migration of millions of wildebeest and zebra. In the evening, bathe in your outdoor bathtub and have an amazing dinner under the stars. This camp is reminiscent of a golden era – an era of romance, professional guiding, adventure and elegance.
- Hotel website: Cottar’s 1920s Camp