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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.


Sossusvlei accommodation


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


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.


Top family safari lodge


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


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


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.


Top family safari lodge in malaria free reserve


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


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


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


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


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.

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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)
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Lukas (Germany)
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Gwen (AU)
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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!

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