We’re all about taking the stress out of family travel and putting incredible spaces and places on your radar. Many of you have reached out to us for advice on destinations that offer easy, effortless experiences without compromising on the wow factor.
We’ve rounded up three of our favorite family-friendly bush (and beach) itineraries to inspire your 2024 travel plans…
- Make memories in Madikwe (South Africa) and Madagascar
Madikwe Game Reserve in South Africa is situated on the border with Botswana, close to the Kalahari Desert. It offers beautifully varied scenery and an abundance of wildlife, making it a great choice to spot the Big Five, as well as cheetahs and ‘painted wolves’ (wild dogs). The fact that it’s malaria-free and less than an hour’s flight from Johannesburg, with an easy connection from US flights, makes it even more appealing.
And while you’re ticking exotic animal sightings off your list, it’s worth noting that Madagascar, home to over 107 lemur species, is a mere 4-hour flight from Johannesburg. This is an island of incredible fauna and flora that offers excitement for all ages, and we always get wonderful feedback from our YPA families when a Madagascar stop-over was on the itinerary.
- Combine adventure and game viewing in Botswana and South Africa
You can’t go wrong with a family vacation that offers wild bush activities and action-packed game drives. We love Mashatu Game Reserve in eastern Botswana for its wide-open spaces and frequent leopard and cheetah sightings. There are also lots of active experiences on offer, like horse riding and mountain biking, as well as visiting photographic hides alongside waterholes.
In South Africa, the Sabi Sands Game Reserve, adjacent to the famous Kruger National Park, is a great destination for luxury bush accommodation and spectacular big cat sightings. Because of the reserve’s smaller size, guests can enjoy shorter game drives and more downtime at the lodge enjoying the indoor and outdoor facilities.
This itinerary works best when utilizing private charter flights between the destinations to avoid excess time in transit.
- Soak up the best of the bush and beach in South Africa (Timbavati, Sabi Sands and Cape Town)
We love this kind of a bush/beach combo itinerary because families experience two different safari terrains, and then end off in the vibrant city of Cape Town which offers an endless array of beach, food and cultural experiences.
While the Sabi Sands Game Reserve offers a lush riverine landscape, which is great for the big cats, the Timbavati Game Reserve is a non-riverine environment, boasting picturesque open grass plains and hills dotted with Rock Fig and Jackalberry trees. The vast expanses in the Timbavati are very conducive for Big Five sightings, including naturally occurring white lions. If the kids are feeling brave, book a treehouse sleepout night for an evening they’ll never forget.
Also, if anyone in the family is nervous about flying in small aircraft, the option to drive in to both Sabi and the Timbavati is very manageable.
Once you’ve had your fill of wild bush adventures, make your way to Cape Town for beautiful seaside accommodation (we particularly love the Mount Nelson, Ellerman House and Table Bay for families). Here you can take your pick of world-class local experiences: Climbing (or taking a cable car) up Table Mountain, kayaking with penguins, cycling along the Sea Point promenade, taking a street art tour with a local artist, or have fun with an in-home cooking class or picnic at Kirstenbosch Gardens.
So from our point of view, using South Africa as your base, family-friendly safari holidays that are easy and effortless whilst still offering incredibly exciting and unique experiences are possible. Let us help you plan your dream trip to make 2024 a year to remember.