5 South African Family Safari Lodges; are the originals still the best?

October 28th 2016  |   Family Safaris, Travel, Countries, Experiences, South Africa  |  by   Richard Smith
Giraffe on a family walking safari Ants Nest, South Africa

We started helping families plan safari holidays pretty much from the inception of Aardvark Safaris in 1999. Back then a combination of Jaci’s Safari Camp in Madikwe Game Reserve and Ant’s Nest in the Waterberg was our clients’ favourite holiday. Seventeen years later, is the original still the best?

Both properties have undergone some big changes:

Jaci’s added Tree Lodge to the original Safari Lodge and also has two villas suited to family travel. Their ‘jungle drives’ offer something special for the real littlies, while those six years old and above are welcome on morning and afternoon drives. There’s more to it for families than this though, as Jaci’s guides really understand kids and will keep children engaged acting as ‘the guide’s spotters’, helping make their own pizza, or looking for animal tracks.


Guide teaching children to recognise animal tracks, Jaci’s Safari Lodge


Vibrant safari design in the lounge at Jaci’s Safari Lodge

The original Ant’s Nest house is fantastic for extended families who can take over the whole property for complete flexibility. It was joined in 2003 by Ant’s Hill an entirely separate lodge with rooms to suit all-comers including a family cottage sleeping up to six.


Sable lounge, Ants Nest


Ant’s Nest pool and gardens

The reserve is now 12,500 acres and since it isn’t home to lion or elephant (which will be seen in Madikwe from Jaci’s) children and adults can all spend time out of a vehicle on foot, mountain bikes, or horses.


Children can ride ponies around the private reserve at Ant’s Nest

They still combine brilliantly as a malaria-free family safari holiday, but nowadays there are some other choices also worth looking at.

Kwandwe Reserve is malaria-free and within South Africa’s southern climate band, meaning it has its best weather in the UK’s winter period. Anyone wanting to escape the cold and damp for a family safari with great wildlife at Christmas, New Year or in the February half term, ought to have a look at this reserve and its choice of properties.


Bird spotting with children’s safari guides at Kwandwe Uplands

At Ecca Lodge three suites suit families, with parents in the main bedroom, and children accommodated in the separate lounge area. Melton Manor and Uplands Homestead are private villas, perfect for a family looking for exclusivity and flexibility on holiday.


Private villa with pool and gardens, Kwandwe Uplands

While some sections of the malaria-free Madikwe Game Reserve can be busy, the joy of the Morukuru properties is that they have their own 3,500 hectare reserve. This sits alongside, but is not separated from, the main reserve. While Morukuru guests can access their private area and the main reserve, other vehicles cannot come onto the private reserve.


Teenagers enjoying fishing on the private Morukuru area of Madikwe reserve

Morukuru’s three properties, Farm House, Owner’s House and River House, have five, two and four bedrooms respectively, meaning there is one suitable for almost every size of family.

morukuru- farm-house-buskbuck feeding-on-the-lawn

Bushbuck feeding on the lawn, 5 bedroom Morukuru Farmhouse

Madikwe Safari Lodge is a third choice within the eponymous reserve. The owners, More Hotels, have an excellent pedigree in hosting families on safari and ensuring children have a fun and memorable holiday. A third bed can be created on a sleeper couch within the parent’s suite and family suites have an entirely separate bedroom.

Madikwe Safari Lodge Cubz dough fun

Cutting biscuits at Cubz kids club, Madikwe Safari Lodge


Dining with views at Madikwe Safari Lodge

While these are among our top choices, we’ve travelled widely and there are other malaria-free family friendly safari lodges and camps which we happily recommend. Our team of safari experts have visited many on holiday with their own families so can offer truly first hand advice.

Any questions?

If you’ve got this far and not found an answer to a question you have that we should have included, please ask in the comments section below, or pop us an email. We’ll be sure to reply and may amend the article to include our answer.

What next?

We would be delighted to help you plan a holiday, or answer any questions if you’re at an earlier stage. Our team of family safari experts have travelled widely throughout Africa. They can offer expert advice on every type of safari from family and beach holidays to riding and primate safaris.  If you would like to talk to someone who has been there and done it, please just send us an email or give us a call.

3 responses to “5 South African Family Safari Lodges; are the originals still the best?”

  1. Sue Howels says:

    You definitely have to try Molori Safari in Madikwe! Excellent choice for both families and couples, and they have recently completed the “Whisky Bar Hide” 🙂

    • Renate says:

      Hi Sue

      Thanks for reading the blog and for your comment. We know Molori and the family suite and junior rangers make it somewhere we would certainly consider for families.

      Yours, Ren

  2. Jessica-Leigh says:

    Good day Richard, I love reading about all the African safari reserves you’ve visited and hoe family-driven safaris are your thing. Kaingo Private Game Reserve in Limpopo also offers a great family safari experience and is a bit more exclusive, which makes you feel like a VIP guest. They now have a new website you can have a look at if you’re interested – http://www.kaingosafari.com. Hope this helps.

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