Imagine a lodge where kids can sip milkshakes and enjoy popcorn while on safari — one that offers a kids’ club as well, so mom and dad can relax and maybe have a spa treatment between game drives. Well, I’m thrilled to tell you that such a place really exists. My family and I visited Sabi Sabi Bush Lodge in South Africa in April and were amazed to find that it was the perfect combination of family fun and safari adventure.
The Sabi Sabi Private Game Reserve lies in the southwestern section of the Greater Kruger National Park. Although it is a private reserve, there are no physical boundaries between it and Kruger National Park, which stands as one of the world’s largest nature conservation areas at some 7600 sq. miles. This integrated location, along with its diverse landscape, makes Sabi Sabi a hotspot for biodiversity. It is home to over 350 species of birds and 200 other animals, including the Big Five. You can also see some spectacular species that are often difficult to find in other parts of Africa, like cheetah and wild dogs, one of the world’s most endangered mammals.
Sabi Sabi Private Game Reserve lies approximately 300 miles east of Johannesburg and is decently accessible considering it is so well integrated into the wild bush surroundings. Guests have three options for arriving at Sabi Sabi: a 1-hour flight from O.R. Tambo International Airport (Johannesburg) directly to the Sabi Sabi Airstrip via a private charter; a 45-minute commercial flight to Mpumalanga International Airport (Nelspruit); or they can opt for a scenic 5-hour chauffeured or self-drive from Johannesburg.
A Lodge for Every Era
Sabi Sabi is comprised of four completely separate and unique luxury lodges. These award-winning accommodations embody the characteristics of life in the bush “Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow.” The romantic Selati, for example, offers a more vintage feel reminiscent of the early days and original African safari experiences, which began in the late-1800’s. Bush Lodge and Little Bush Camp represent the more contemporary options, offering luxurious accommodations with a modern day feel. While Earth Lodge truly exemplifies a new era of safari lodges, or the “tomorrow,” with its unique architecture. This property breaks with traditional safari style to blend in with its surrounding landscape in a masterpiece of artistry and innovation.
Of the four lodges, Bush Lodge is the largest and the most family-friendly. It’s comprised of 25 spacious suites with en-suite bathrooms, alfresco showers, and an eclectic mixture of furnishings from different parts of Africa.
Happily accepting children of all ages, Sabi Sabi Bush Lodge is home to the amazing EleFun Centre, a children’s facility with both indoor and outdoor play areas. The childcare professionals at the EleFun Centre lovingly care for their younger guests, as they learn through play with daily scheduled crafts and activities. Let’s face it, the average safari schedule is tough on little ones. With early mornings and later evenings, sitting in a safari vehicle for hours game driving can be taxing on them. However, Bush Lodge’s EleFun Centre brings a whole new meaning to family-friendly safari. Your clients will thoroughly enjoy the fact that their children can let off steam and get some much-needed exercise at the Centre, while simultaneously carving out some adult time away from the kids. The staff throughout the resort is extremely accommodating to families with children, and they go the extra mile to make sure that even your youngest clients will feel at home. On our last game drive at Sabi Sabi, the staff surprised our children with a treasure hunt in the bush that led them to individually decorated bags of popcorn with their names and a milkshake stand. What a treat!
Dining Even a Kid Can Love
A stay at Bush Lodge is inclusive of meals, most of which are served buffet-style, with the exception of dinner. The buffets offer a lovely spread with a large variety of dishes, and the chef is happy to accommodate any special requests. In fact, the chef visits each table during breakfast daily to take any special orders that guests might have for lunch and dinner. Talk about attention to detail! The breakfast buffet includes a “Children’s corner,” where little ones can help themselves to cereal, pastries, pancakes, milk, juices, and more. It’s a simple detail, but kids love feeling “grown up” and being able to serve themselves.
Dinner is always a distinctive event at Bush Lodge, especially when it is served at the Boma. Your clients will return from their afternoon game drive to a lantern-lit path leading to a beautifully decorated dining area with twinkling white lights, tables set around a large firepit and multiple cooking stations. The first two of five courses are served at each table, and the third course is a buffet-style salad bar. The main course options are available at the individual cooking stations, which serve exotic game dishes, such as ostrich, warthog, and kudu, as well as more traditional cuts of beef, chicken, and fish options. Even the pickiest eater would be hard-pressed not to find something they love among this amazing selection. To top off the meal with something sweet, the chef always prepares two different local desserts. The home-made bread pudding with custard is phenomenal, and the koeksister, South Africa’s version of a donut, is a must, even for those that would normally skip dessert!
The Most Well-Rounded Safari Experience
After experiencing several different safari lodges in multiple parts of Africa, I can sincerely say that Sabi Sabi Bush Lodge in South Africa is the most family-friendly lodge we have visited. What’s more, I feel that it is the most well-rounded as well, as it checks off all the boxes of what one would want from an African safari with children. The animal viewing is remarkable. From wild dogs to white rhinos to hyena pups, the game drives there are absolutely special. Our guide and tracker were excellent, extremely knowledgeable and engaging. The EleFun Centre, the warm staff, the attention to detail in every aspect of the property, I can’t say enough about this magical place. If you have clients looking for a bucket list-worthy family adventure, then look no further. You cannot go wrong with a family safari at Sabi Sabi Bush Lodge.
For more information, visit sabisabi.com.
This story originally appeared in worldstompers.com, a family travel website created to inspire families with kids to expand their idea of adventures. You can follow the adventures of the Bazavilvazo family @worldstompers on Instagram and The Worldstompers on Facebook.
To read about Mayra’s visit to the Four Seasons Hotel The Westcliff Johannesburg, click HERE.