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Top 10 Family Safari Lodges

Choosing a lodge for your family safari needs a bit of consideration. Sure, there are family safari lodges all across Africa but there’s also malaria to think about. And although family lodges are big on activities for children as well as for their parents, there are different experiences on offer. Then there’s cost – best thought of as a range between three and five star accommodation, with price reflected in levels of facilities, comfort and cuisine. Phew, where to start?

Right here: we’ve visited these lodges, gone to several with our kids, and done the (moderately) hard yards for you. And here’s what we experienced.

THREE-STAR VALUE FAMILY LODGES

Sossusvlei accommodation

MALARIA-FREE NAMIBIA – KULALA

The famous Sossusvlei sand dunes are the highlight feature of the Namib Desert, and guests at Kulala Desert Lodge even have an exclusive-use entry gate to them. But this is also a landscape full of surprises. Drives and walks take you in search of desert-adapted elephants while the starry night sky can be observed from your bed, positioned on the roof of your family chalet on request. Complete with pizza oven, pool and Wi-fi, Kulala is relatively close to Windhoek and combines well with a fly-in Botswana safari and Victoria Falls.

Botswana family friendly accommodation

OKAVANGO DELTA KIDS SAFARI – YOUNG EXPLORER’S CAMP

Lying in an exclusive-use concession, Shinde’s Young Explorer’s Camp has been designed for adventurous families looking for a Botswana safari. There are only three tented suites, and each family has their own guide and vehicle to make it easier to plan the day. It’s big game country here: combine day and night drives with walks and water-based wildlife watching for the complete safari experience. At camp, children have activities ranging from archery and 4X4 driving to tracking animals and cooking in the bush. Go during the dry season – June to October – and combine with Victoria Falls.

FOUR-STAR LUXURY LODGES

Top family safari lodge

MALARIA-FREE MADIKWE – JACI’S CAMPS

The meeting of savannah and Kalahari habitats at Madikwe Private Reserve offers both diverse and abundant wildlife. This is a Big Five reserve minus the malaria risk, and it’s only a morning’s drive from Johannesburg airport. Jaci’s camps are all highly recommended but, speaking from personal experience, we suggest Nare Suite at Jaci’s Safari Lodge, sleeping up to six and looking out over its own waterhole. In fact, Madikwe is so easy that it even works with young kids too – read about a Madikwe family safari here.

Top family safari lodge

PRIVATE KRUGER SAFARI – KAMBAKU

If your kids like the idea of finishing their safari as a qualified Junior Ranger, then Kambaku Safari Lodge is the place for them. Set in the private Timbavati Reserve adjoining the Kruger Park, Kambaku offers a Kubs programme, based on the educational value of nature and inspired by the owners’ own experience as ‘bush parents’. Game drives take you in search of not just the Big Five (lion, elephant, rhino, leopard and buffalo) but the Magnificent Seven – the aforementioned plus cheetah and wild dog. Combine the Kruger with Cape Town for a classic family holiday.

Exclusive use family safari lodge

PRIVATE ZAMBIA – CHONGWE RIVER HOUSE

Our preferred family lodge on the Zambezi River, Chongwe is one of our top exclusive-use safari house recommendations and lies in a private reserve next to the Lower Zambezi National Park. Such a combination of national park and private reserve allows a great variety of activities and experiences – no-one gets bored on a Chongwe safari! Designed for larger families looking for comfort and exclusivity, Chongwe River House has four en suite bedrooms and provides the services of a chef and house staff plus your own boat, canoes, vehicle, guide and park rangers. Over to you.

FIVE-STAR DELUXE LODGES

Top family safari lodge in malaria free reserve

FIRST-TIME PERFECT: MARATABA

So you’ve got young kids and you want a proper safari with the Big Five but NO malaria? Head north of Johannesburg for a couple of hours and an enormous area of private reserves opens up – the Waterberg. Marataba Safari Lodge, complete with antelope peacefully grazing its lawns, is a luxurious lodge in the Marakele Reserve and devotes nearly a third of its rooms to families. Expect kid’s menus, bunkbeds, tailored activities and dedicated play areas: it really works for a young family and we should know – read about it here!

Malaria free family safari accommodation

NO-ONE DOES IT BETTER: TSWALU

If you’d like your family to experience the Kalahari then treat them to a stay at malaria-free Tswalu. South Africa’s biggest private reserve is also its most unique, and blends big desert wildlife – lions, rhino, giraffe – with Africa’s rarest animal sightings: wild dog, aardvark and pangolin. And of course it wouldn’t be the Kalahari without a family of meerkats to watch. Accommodation is elegantly luxurious and each booking gets a private guide and vehicle; you’ll also have the knowledge that your visit directly helps both local conservation and community development.

Kenya family friendly accommodation

WILD IN KENYA – SARUNI WILD

Not only is Saruni Wild a classic destination for the Masai Mara wildebeest migration, but this tented camp also runs a superb family safari programme. If you’ve ever felt guilty about not letting your kids light fires, throw weapons and tend cattle, then this is the time for them to do all that and more. Immerse your family in the way of the Maasai people; walk with their warriors, learn their songs, discover the details behind the landscape. You’ll also track animals, try out survival tricks and make traditional jewellery – and did anyone mention 4X4 game drives? Your kids won’t stop talking about this one.

Safari activities for children

YOUR OWN SERENGETI – MKOMBE’S HOUSE

Named after a guide who loved leading family safaris, the influence of Mkombe runs through this villa-style accommodation. Designed for exclusivity-seeking families, Mkombe’s House sleeps four adults and six children in classic African-safari style and comes with everything you need: chef, house staff, baby sitters and two pools. The only exclusive-use house in the Serengeti, Mkombe’s northern location is ideal for a wildebeest migration safari, especially the action-packed river crossings, but wildlife here is excellent all year round. Your safari programme revolves around you and your family – choose between drives, walks, bush picnics and sundowners, all privately guided.

Lifetime memories on safari

SUPER-SIZE ME: SOMALISA

All ages are welcome at Somalisa Acacia but you might want your kids to be on the older side: this is about as authentic as it gets. Located on a seasonal floodplain in Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park, this really is the sort of place where elephants wander through camp and drink from the pool. Combining easily with Victoria Falls, Hwange is all about the big stuff: hippo, buffalo, giraffe plus all the predators – lion, cheetah, leopard and wild dog. Family accommodation at the camp consists of linked en suite tents, and there’s a children’s activity programme that includes bush cooking, arts and crafts and safari skills.

Hands-on Expertise

  • We’re based in Africa
  • Consultants Travel in Africa
  • Knowledgeable team
  • Expect great customer service

Accredited & Bonded

  • SATSA – Bonded Membership (2061)
  • Travel Save Compliant Certificate
  • Fully Independent & Owner Run
  • Travel Support from Start to Finish

Reviews

Safari Online made our fantastic family holiday dream come true!!

Safari Online have been nothing but professional and incredible from the time we made our first enquiry to the last day of our stunning holiday. Nothing was too much trouble for Walter. We are now starting to plan our next family Safari for 2019. Guess who we will be booking with??? Safari Online we hope you are ready!!!!!

Penni (AU)
Walter has always been an excellent communicator and has supported us fully

We have been to Africa for 24 of the last 27 years so know a bit about what is involved. Walter has arranged the details for the last couple of years, and has done a superb job. He is always quick to respond and comes up with answers immediately……..no evasive tactics, always head-on!

Roger (UK)
It was a safari of a lifetime and exceeded all of our expectations!

Our mom grew up in Central and South Africa so we had visited the continent many times. My sister and I wanted to take our teens and husbands to Africa to experience the magic. We had a limited budget but big and specific expectations and by some miracle Walter was able to manage both.

Heather (USA)
Safari Online were extremely efficient and absolutely charming to work with.

Our 28-day itinerary took us to South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Botswana. A magnificent and unforgettable adventure. Everything ran smoothly and efficiently from the flights, transfers, rides, connections, etc. Absolutely wonderful! Can’t thank them enough!

Ann and Mario (Canada)
Professional, quick and top of the edge service!!!

From the very first contact we’re very happy about the respond time and quality of information from safari-online.com. Based on the received first tailor-made quote, which is a weblink with all the details about the flights, photos of the lodges etc. we knew that this is “our” partner for this trip. Our expectations were excelled!!!

Lukas (Germany)
Best trip I have ever been on. Highly recommend.

Would highly recommend. Safari online asked questions when booking and were efficient and knew exactly what we were looking for in terms of accommodation and animals were wanted to see. Gave advice on a few little extras with no pressure, which we did and am very grateful which make trip even more exciting. Would definitely recommend booking with them.

Professional, patient, efficient and responsive. Met all our travel needs and requirements spot on

Communication was excellent – I asked A LOT of questions and did a ton of research myself and Walter was extremely patient with me and very responsive. he was straight forward and extremely professional. Tour itself was excellent – an incredible experience and one never to be forgotten. Everything was spot on.

Neena
Very helpful good suggestions for holiday ideas always available for questions good organising

Excellent service and they supplied good suggestions for our holiday they also organised all internal flights and arranged check in for us so we had no worries while on holiday. We have had a most memorable holiday staying at wonderful places thanks to Sabrina and Safari Online. Would recommend Safari Online to organise your holiday.

Lorraine (UK)
An incredibly well organised tour with no hassles whatsoever.

Safari Online understood our needs and was able to present us with sensible options to choose from. It was evident that this tour operator has knowledgable and experienced agents who can arrange a seemless tour. We were provided with a professional online itinary which was comprehensive and easy to use, knew exactely what to expect, and encountered no stumble blocks along the way.

Gwen (AU)
Karina was absolutely instrumental to our safari success.

Our experience with Safari Online was excellent. After becoming very frustrated trying to search for a safari destination on our own, we turned to Karina for help and she was a lifesaver.  We had an amazing safari adventure at the lodge–the experience of a lifetime–and are so grateful for her help. We literally couldn’t have done it without her!

Chris (USA)