I will always have a warm place in my heart for South Africa since it was our honeymoon destination. I try to convince everyone to go on a safari for their honeymoon because it is a truly special experience. I’m pretty sure my success rate has been zero so far, but I’m persistent. Maybe this post will convince someone or at least cause some regrets for my friends that ignored my advice!
I really can’t wait to take our boys on a safari and South Africa will probably be at the top of our list again. There are safari destinations in South Africa that are malaria free, which is a big consideration when you’re traveling with kids. After a lot of research for our honeymoon we stayed at Londolozi, which has a concession in the Sabi Sand private game reserve bordering Kruger National Park. Best. Decision. Ever. It’s not in a malaria free zone, but it is considered low risk in the winter months. There are five lodges that vary in price based on the amenities. They all look amazing, but the Private Granite Suites are over the top luxurious.
After looking at the Londolozi website again recently, I noticed that they accept kids as young as four at their Varty Camp Lodge and Founders Camp. It looks like Declan might be celebrating his fourth birthday in South Africa!
The game viewing at Londolozi is incredible and they are well known for the number of leopards in their concession, a fairly rare safari sighting. When we were there we saw the big 5 (lion, leopard, elephant, rhino and buffalo), including a leopard in a tree eating an impala with a hyena waiting underneath to catch any scraps that fell. We also got to watch three lionesses hunt impala (unsuccessfully) under a full moon and then hear them roar back and forth to each other afterward like a football team in a huddle. However, it wasn’t just about the big 5 or having a check list of animals to spot. It felt like a privilege to observe all of the animals in their natural environment. One of my favorite moments was watching a bird with a nest on the ground “yell” at an elephant for almost stepping on its home. The elephant looked really startled and definitely stayed away from the nest for the rest of the visit to the watering hole.
We saw a pack of wild dogs – one of South Africa’s most endangered mammal species, and learned so much about their pack structure and behavior. And we also witnessed the sometimes tragic circle of life. We saw a cheetah that looked like she had given up on life after losing her babies and getting wounded in a fight with hyenas that stole her kill.
A safari should be on everyone’s bucket list, so start pinching your pennies.
If you’re going all the way to South Africa, you might as well spend some time in Cape Town, one of the most beautiful cities in the world, and drive at least part of the Garden Route. Kids will love this part of the trip as well. Take a day trip to the Cape of Good Hope and visit the jackass penguin colony (the name alone will fascinate kids), play chicken with the ostriches, and try to keep your picnic away from the panhandling baboons. Oh, and I almost forgot the whales, dolphins, and seals on the Garden Route. At certain times of the year, the whales are so close to shore that you can watch them from land. We watched a whale lobtailing for 30 minutes from our hotel room when we were on our honeymoon.
While I’m planning this future dream trip to South Africa, how amazing would it be to add the Tsala Treetop Lodge to the itinerary? What kid (or adult) wouldn’t love sleeping in a treehouse? Plus, each treehouse has a private infinity pool. And check out the list of activities on their website. I think we will need a full week to try all of them.
Considering we still have ~2.5 years before Declan turns four, I think this trip is shaping up nicely.