Renowned safari journalist and expert Lisa Grainger recommends her favourite African camps, from savannahs teeming with Big Five, to star-lit desert wildernesses.
One of the most child-friendly camps in Africa: unpretentious, relaxed and ideal for first-timers safari-goers who want a slightly gentler experience.
Waterberg is a pretty area, with gentle hills, pretty forests and a couple of rivers. It’s tranquil, rather than stunning. There’s no elephant or lion – so it can feel a little tame.
Because it’s a former family bush home, it’s full of colourful, informal living spaces and child-friendly spots (from a pool, trampoline and sandpits to stables with 70 horses). The staff are brilliant with children, taking them on bug trails, spoor-tracking lessons, riding trails and even feeding them supper.
There are big hot baths for relaxing after horse rides but otherwise rooms are roomy, colourful and comfortable, rather than super-luxurious – ideal for families. The lodge is owner-run, and the staff exude the same warmth and friendliness. It’s a happy, relaxed place, though always full of children – which is not every holidaymaker’s dream.
Game & game viewing
Ant’s Nest doesn’t have elephant or lion, but it does have rare sable antelope, and at night aardvark, porcupine and bushbaby are sometimes spotted. Nearby, an elephant camp offers rides on the big creatures – so if you want to see elephant, they’re not far away. Ditto a Big Five reserve, for a day trip away.
Mountain bikes are available for guests to use – on gentle roads, or off-road in the bush. There are also horse riding excursions for those who have never ridden. Even if you’re a beginner, it’s great fun. Guides are expert at taking guests right up to herds of giraffe, zebra and antelope to see them up-close.
Taking the kids
This is child-heaven: as well as trampolines, toys, books and a pool, the activities are created for them, from bug-walks and star-talks to lessons in how to make a toothbrush from a tree. The staff love children and will ensure their enthusiasm about the bush is passed on.
Meals can be taken in various spots – under trees, on verandahs and under the stars. Children’s dinner can be organised earlier.
Guides & guiding
Guiding is first-rate for children; guides are well-trained to keep children entertained and educated. The horse guides are brilliant at taking out guests of all ages and abilities; even children who have never been on a horse leave enthused. Drives are tailor-made to ensure the smallest of guests always have something to keep them entertained.
It’s about three hours drive north of Johannesburg, or 30 minutes flight, and about five hours from Kruger National Park.
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Food & drink
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