Safaris and game lodges are what South African holidays are made of; whether you’re visiting from abroad or you’re a local after some adventure. The game lodges available across the country include luxury retreats, beautiful tented camps, and rustic establishments that are like homes away from home. For families that are planning an African safari holiday that they’ll never forget.
Here are our top 20 game lodges with kids activities to keep the little ones entertained …
It overlooks the watering hole where the elephants drink, offers spacious suites for families with children, and has fun activities for the little ones on offer. These include a bush programme that takes them into the wild with an experienced tracker that knows just how to show them what fun awaits them in the African veld.
This game lodge in Limpopo enjoys a stunning setting of mountains and bush.
The family unit (called the Leopard House) sleeps four. During the day, the kids’ programme keeps the shorter family members busy with outdoor games, painting, baking, target shooting, kleilat (a traditional clay sling), art and crafts.
Incredible game viewing and gorgeous accommodation for the family is what Thornybush is all about.
But, more than this, there are also dedicated activities for children visiting this lodge. These include treasure hunts, educational bush walks with game rangers, and picnics next to the swimming pool.
Just 3.5 hours from Cape Town, this family-friendly game lodge and reserve is an awesome getaway.
The luxury family suite is ideal for four people, and kids’ activities here are designed to create a very special connection between little ones and their beautiful surrounds. There are a variety of fun kids’ programmes available on weekends and during school holidays. They include lessons on bush survival skills, game drives for children, guided bush walks, and fascinating insect walks.
Kariega, in the Eastern Cape, is great for Big Five viewing for the whole family. Although children are welcome to join on game drives and river cruises, they also get to enjoy a dedicated children’s programme here.
Kids can look forward to creating their very own bushmen paintings, going on guided walks and learning about the bush, target practice, arts and crafts, watching DVDs in the playroom, reading books, or making puzzles.
Escape to the Karoo with your family and stay at the Samara Private Game Reserve. Inviting colonial-style accommodation and the opportunity to interact with cheetahs sets this lodge apart.
Kids also enjoy exploring the bushmen’s paintings, seeing ancient fossils up close, going on game drives to spot the “funny five”, track identification, and other outdoor excursions.
This family lodge is only about an hour outside Port Elizabeth and offers awesome Big Five viewing.
There are interleading rooms for parents and children, and the children’s programme includes access to a fun Adventure Centre, Kids’ Club, the Wildlife Rehab Centre, and the Born Free Centre.
Just three hours from Johannesburg is the upmarket, serene retreat of Kololo Game Reserve. There are suites for families of four or six, and there is a dedicated programme for little ones.
The programme includes a fun wildlife safari in the bushveld, together with colouring-in books, puzzles, and questions. Little ones love being part of the wildlife experience.
Beautiful tented and family suites are set against the Outeniqua Mountains for a spectacular stay at Botlierskop.
In addition to the game drives and horse safaris, children over six years also have their very own activities on offer here. These include fishing excursions, junior ranger programmes, and a variety of spa treatments.
This game lodge is in the Kruger National Park in Mpumalanga, and has awesome game viewing, star gazing and bird watching opportunities.
Children also have their own programme, which includes arts, crafts, outdoor games, and night walks. For those with a particular interest in the outdoors, Jock Safari Lodge offers junior ranger training too.
Mabula Game Lodge is in the Waterberg and is ideal for families because it is close to Johannesburg, has lovely accommodation, is renowned for its excellent food, and offers a Cubz Club for kids. This club is all about fun and the outdoors. It includes child-friendly stargazing, game safaris, tug of war, egg and spoon races, PlayStation, and much more.
Family suites and excellent game viewing (including sightings of the Big Five) await visitors to Tau Game Lodge in Madikwe.
Families with little ones will love the Cubz Club, which offers kiddie game drives, arts, crafts, a treasure hunt, and a Cubz Club backpack with loads of goodies inside (including a deputy ranger certificate and badge, and a t-shirt).
This four-star safari lodge is a great choice for families that want to enjoy the wildlife experience of South Africa.
The family suite and family safari tent each sleep four. The dedicated Children’s Coordinator ensures that little ones have just as much fun as their parents. There is also a babysitting service for parents that need some time together while their children have loads of fun.
Limpopo’s Palala is where family-friendly accommodation and five-star luxury meet. This is a stunning place where safaris are the order of the day, set against the natural beauty of the Waterberg.
The children’s entertainment includes PlayStation, DVDs, and outdoor play area, board games, a trampoline, table tennis, and more. There are also outdoor activities like fishing, river cruises, guided walks, picnics and game drives; crafted especially for the younglings.
Madikwe Safari Lodge is recommended for families because it offers fabulous accommodation, excellent game viewing of the Big Five and many other species, and a host of activities for little ones.
These include outdoor movies, dress-up plays, animal tracking, pool games, a chance to meet a bearded dragon, baking, arts and crafts.
Gondwana is a game reserve on the Garden Route that is home to the Big Five and is close to some of the best beaches of the area.
But, the Junior Range Programme is the real highlight for the kids visiting this reserve. This programme includes interactive activities, game drives, junior ranger packs, and a completion badge.
Tuningi is an exclusive lodge in the heart of the North West, where families come to experience the raw splendour of Africa.
There are a number of bespoke activities for kids – including kids’ game drives (even especially short ones for little ones under five years old), trips to the watering hole with the ranger, lessons about the stars, and special meals.
This five-star lodge is in the acclaimed Addo Elephant National Park, where a wide variety of animals can be seen on guided or self-driven excursions.
Children love swimming in the pool, or heading out for the dedicated kids’ activities. Very young ones can go on a Wilderness Ramble with the fun guide, while older ones can head out on a KhoiSan adventure. Kids’ safaris are available to any child over the age of six years.
Set against the Swartberg Mountains just outside Oudtshoorn, Buffelsdrift is a stunning family getaway for many reasons.
There are luxury family tents, a curio shop, a spa and a restaurant. There are also kids’ activities on offer; including meerkat safaris, feeding the elephants, and bush safaris with the adults.
This three-star lodge in Hluhluwe invites families to see the Big Five in their natural habitat, rewarding game drives, and relaxing evenings spent around the fire. Special activities for little ones include an adventure game drive, stargazing, poop identification, target shooting, and more.