South Africa Family Safari
South Africa, 12 Days From $2,199 per person Themes
This family-focused itinerary spotlights the northeastern part of South Africa. View the Big 5 safely with naturalist guides and relax each evening in comfortable surroundings.
Flexible date(s). Please Contact Us.
Why Authentic Ecotourism?
Each of the eco lodges selected for this itinerary have been certified by Fair Trade Tourism, meaning that they adhere to the standard as a way of signifying their commitment to fair and responsible tourism. This includes fair wages and working conditions, fair purchasing and operations, equitable distribution of benefits and respect for human rights, culture and the environment. In addition, the tourism businesses strive to be sustainable by:
- Increased knowledge through capacity-building
- Improved use of available resources through networking and partnerships
- Economic viability through responsible use of resources
- Reduction of leakage through local purchasing and employment
- Support to historically disadvantaged entrepreneurs
Day 1 - Johannesburg
After arriving in Tambo Airport in Johannesburg, you will be taken by private transfer to your hotel, the Peech Boutique Hotel.
Known to the locals as "E'Goli" or City of Gold, Johannesburg is the pulsating heart of South Africa's industrial and commercial life where gold mining still continues. Depending on your arrival time, there are some truly fascinating activities such as cultural visits to Soweto, the Apartheid Museum or even a working diamond mine to see. Sterkfontein in the Cradle of Humanity World Heritage Site is well worth a visit. Arts and craft galleries abound.
The Peech Boutique Hotel - Garden Room, Breakfast
The Peech Hotel is Johannesburg's eco-chic boutique hotel. Set in the suburb of Melrose, the hotel has sixteen bedrooms spread over a lush one-acre garden, a sophisticated bistro restaurant and a boardroom. The hotel has a sustainability policy that includes eco-friendly solutions like solar water heating and grey water recycling.
The nodes of Sandton and Melrose Arch are all within ten minutes of the hotel. Rosebank, the Rosebank Gautrain Station & Melrose Arch are five minutes.
Tambo International airport is 45 minutes by car or 25 minutes by Gautrain & taxi. The hotel has a swimming pool in the one acre garden and loungers and hanging chairs for relaxing. The hotel is opposite the James Gray Park and adjacent to the Planet Fitness Wanderers gym; gym access vouchers can be purchased at the hotel reception.
Day 2 - Johannesburg
This morning you will be collected at your hotel for your half day History of Soweto tour.
History of Soweto Cycle Tour - Half day private tour
'History of Soweto tour' -from the start of the 'city of hope'....till Soweto today- This half day tour will let you experience day to day life in the township, from the first people living in Soweto up to today's flamboyant five star Soweto Hotel. We will visit a squatter camp and Regina Mundi church, see Nelson Mandela's house and hear stories about the struggle by black South Africans against Apartheid. We also experience 'the better life for all South Africans' starting after the first free elections in 1994. On any tour, your guide might have some surprises en route.
Days 3 & 4 - Kokolo Game Reserve - Waterberg
This morning your rental car (Nissan Qashqai or similar with air conditioning, power-steering, manual transmission and radio/CD player) will be delivered to your hotel for your drive to Kokolo Game Reserve.
All international customers (only English-speaking countries are exempt) now need an international driver's license in order to rent a car in South Africa. Please note that traveler's must convert their driver's license into an international driver's license in their country of origin.
2½ to 3 hours' drive north of Johannesburg and Pretoria lie the Waterberg Mountains, a stunning area of natural beauty where a dramatic forested plateau overlooks the Palala River. Its beauty lies in its stunning vistas, mountain gorges, spectacular sunsets, clear streams and rolling bushveld hills. The area is home to several malaria-free private game lodges offering Big Five game viewing. Horse-riding and game walks are a particular specialty of this region.
Kololo Game Reserve – Bushbuck Chalet, DBB and one game drive per day
Kololo Game Reserve is situated in the beautiful province of Limpopo, South Africa, in the heart of the Waterberg biosphere. Kololo borders to the Big 5 Welgevonden Game Reserve (located approximately 200 m from the reception and restaurant).
A malaria-free area, child friendly and home to a large variety of game, Kololo is a perfect safari destination. Visit neighboring reserve Welgevonden Game Reserve (of which Kololo is also part) and view the Big 5 - lion, leopard, elephant, rhino and buffalo - or enjoy a sneak preview over the fence, from the comfort of your chalet at Kololo.
Children of all ages are welcome, Kololo is therefore a prime destination for families with children. The "big game" is safely behind the Welgevonden gate so the kids are free to explore the area yet with the adventure of the 'safe' wildlife on Kololo. Kololo has its own gate near the reception, which provides direct access to Welgevonden Game Reserve. Kololo therefore has a unique concept: the Big 5 and accommodation in a luxurious, comfortable lodge where only the safe wildlife roams free.
Days 5 & 6 - Madi a Thavha Mountain Lodge
Today, you drive north to Madi a Thavha Mountain Lodge for a two night stay.
The northern Limpopo is a little known region of mountains, forests and holy ruins. Activities include visiting the Ben Lavin Nature reserve, hiking in the Soutpansberg and Hangklip Mountains or browsing amongst the many arts & crafts markets.
This is the home of the Venda people, famous for their arts and crafts. Take one of the artists' route and see local potters, wood carvers, textile weavers and bead makers all in their own villages. Guided half or full day tours to the artists are also available.
The Thathe Vondo Forest is a beautiful indigenous forest that incorporates the sacred burial ground of the chiefs of the Thathe Clan, while the scenic Phiphidi Falls are believed to be the home of the water spirits that foster good relations with the ancestral spirits. Stop at the Tshakuma fruit market along the way and stock up on the abundance of tropical fruit from the Levubu valley.
Madi a Thavha Mountain Lodge - Suite, Full board
Madi a Thavha, meaning "water from the mountains", is set in a beautiful and quiet valley of the Soutpansberg Mountains of Northern Limpopo, only 10 km drive from Louis Trichardt.
At Madi a Thavha you'll be able to enjoy all that the area has to offer: gallery and exhibition of the art and crafts of the Venda and Tsonga artists, numerous bird species, walking routes, and the studio of Madi a Thavha Design. The lodge is an excellent base to spend a few days to explore the Venda and Tsonga culture, myths and legends and to discover the unspoiled nature of the Soutpansberg and Limpopo valley.
The original farm house with verandas at the front and backside is situated in a large garden and accommodates all lodge facilities.
You will find a lounge and dining room, open plan kitchen, reception and Craft Art shop. In the lounge is a fire place that creates a comfortable and warm atmosphere during the chilly winter evenings. DSTV is available. In the garden is a refreshing swimming pool and the lapa is a nice place to relax and enjoy the beautiful mountain views.
Everything is tastefully decorated with Venda and Tsonga art and crafts, made by people in the villages around Madi a Thavha. During your stay at the lodge you can tour through the area. Possibilities include, joining one of the organised tours and exploring the area by foot or bike. The lodge environment offers various opportunities for activities for families with children.
Activities at Madi a Thavha
A Gallery with a permanent exhibition about Venda, Tsonga and Northern Sotho Arts and Crafts at Madi a Thavha Mountain Lodge is a new initiative to promote the work of the artists and crafters. The exhibition presents the background of Venda, Tsonga and Northern Sotho cultures and their developments with Art and Crafts from traditional to transitional and contemporary.
Besides the main exhibition in the gallery you will find a presentation about Sonoma's and traditional healing, musical instruments, food and food preparations around the lodge. The documentation centre provides background information, research documentation, music and documentaries. You will find a collection of art work, home decoration products, jewellery and small gifts in the Craft Art shop and around the farm house of the lodge.
Day trips from Madi a Thavha Mountain Lodge (for an additional charge)
- Elim tour – Craft Art and Culture
- Levubu Valley tour – Craft Art and Culture
- Letaba dam tour – Craft Art and Culture
- Western Soutpansberg tour - Culture, Nature and Community visit
- Land of Legend tour – Craft Art and Culture
- Lake Fundudzi tour – Nature and Culture
We advise to make use of the services of their local tour guide, because many places are not so easy to find and the guide gives you easy access to the workshops and homesteads in the villages. You can book a tour guide at Madi a Thavha Mountain Lodge.
Days 7 & 8 - Mashovhela Bush Lodge
This morning you head to Mashovhela Bush Lodge for a two night stay.
Mashovhela Bush Lodge – Family Unit, Full Board including 1 activity in the Morning Sun Reserve
Unwind in the tranquil atmosphere of our intimate and small Eco-friendly accommodation in a Venda styled lodge.
Malaria Free Mashovhela Bush Lodge is located in the Morning Sun Nature Reserve, situated at a high altitude where the malaria carrying mosquito cannot survive. We have had no incidence of malaria and are regarded as a malaria free destination.
Relax in our unique ethnically decorated small on-suit chalets. Our 10 intimate en-suite chalets have a unique ethnic feel, whilst offering comfort and privacy. Children are accommodated in our two family friendly units. Mashovhela Lodge is ideal for young, old and everyone in between and is located on our Morning Sun Nature Reserve which is malaria free. The Lodge is child friendly accepting children of any age. Activities for children depend on the age, their interests and their length of stay at the lodge and must be arranged in advance, to secure availability of staff members and materials used.
Day activities at Mashovhela Bush Lodge:
- Mashavhela organizes the following day activities:
- Guided Scenic Drives and Walks
- Guided Walking Trails
- Star Gazing
- Hammock Camping
Activities available in the Morning Sun Nature Reserve:
- Nature Walks: Explore and investigate the diverse fauna and flora of this magnificently beautiful natural heritage site on foot. Marked trails take you across scenic valleys, along sparkling streams and through various indigenous forests.
- Guided Walks and Scenic Drives: Let the supervised staff member, bring the bush alive whilst sharing knowledge on the natural wonders of the bush and the use thereof to man. Visit our sacred Mashovhela pool and the stories about its mythology. Swimming in the top river pools is allowed.
- Venda Dancing and dining: The African night gets filled with the beat of drums and singing by our local Venda dancers. Children are welcome to grab a drum or join the cultural dancing.
- Star Gazing: The reserve is the ideal setting for an out of this world stellar experience whether you are a seasoned observer, starting out or just want to enjoy the night sky. (Advanced booking is essential!!)
- Hammock Camp: Away from the lodge is the "Star gazing hammock camp" which allows a unique experience to sleep under the amazing southern night sky
- Eco-experience: Let the staff educate children how the Award winning Lodge functions off the Eskom power grid.
- Beaded artwork: let the Venda ladies teach you how to do wonders with African glass beads.
- Jungle gym: they have a a small jungle gym for kids to play on in the garden
Days 9 through 11 - Timbavata Game Reserve
Today you travel to the Timbavati Game Reserve, adjacent to the Kruger National Park for your three night safari.
Timbavati Game Reserve
A safari is nearly always an important part of a holiday in Southern Africa - words cannot describe the thrill of tracking a leopard on the hunt or observing a breeding herd of elephants at a waterhole.
The vast Timbavati Private Game Reserve borders the Kruger National Park to the north. You are likely to see large elephant herds and you'll have a good chance of spotting many of the so-called 'Big 5' - elephant, buffalo, lion, leopard and rhino as well a variety of smaller mammals. The Timbavati is known for the White Lion of Tiumbavati, a unique sub-species. Leopard are also very good but you are perhaps slightly less likely to see rhino in the Timbavati. Cheetah, wild dog and leopard are also frequently seen moving through the reserve. Due to a long history of sensitive game-viewing, the animals are quite relaxed allowing for superb viewing.
The Timbavati comprises a number of private game lodges which cooperate in conserving their valuable heritage. Drives are in the early morning and late afternoon when game is most likely to be active. You enjoy game drives in open-vehicle game drives with an experienced ranger and a local Shangaan tracker who work together to give you a deeper understanding of the wildlife and the natural cycles of the bush. Drives are in the early morning and late afternoon when game is most likely to be active. Tracking Africa's big game, the evening safari departs after afternoon tea. After enjoying the bush sunset, the evening holds a sense of anticipation as the rare and elusive nocturnal species begin to hunt.
Main Camp at Motswari Private Game Reserve - Bungalow, Full Board & Game Activities
Motswari Private Game Reserve is open to the Kruger National Park and nestles within the Timbavati Nature Reserve. This family-owned and operated four-star lodge prides itself on its warm atmosphere. The name Motswari means "to conserve and protect" in Tswana. The understated luxury of this traditional, vintage lodge promises an authentic safari experience to all of its visitors from the world over.
The 150 square kilometres that make up the reserve are part of the larger Kruger Park and guests will be treated to wildlife in their natural habitats as part of their unforgettable view of Southern Africa.
Motswari is exclusive in that there are never more than 30 guests present at any one time, providing a more serene environment for the visitor's African experience. With 15 luxury-appointed en-suite bungalows, each with air-conditioning, and all offering unrivalled bush views, guests enjoy a high level of comfort which complements the level of service excellence. The naturally-furnished interiors of each bungalow reflect the wonders of nature that exist just outside the windows.
Meals are taken either in a scenic location out on the trail with one of the highly-trained guides or, depending on the season, spending the evenings dining in the bush or inside the Boma, a traditional meeting-place for those staying in the African wilds.
Day 12 - Depart for Onward Travel
This morning after your early morning game drive and breakfast, you drive to Hoedspruit Airport to drop off the rental car in time for your onward flight arrangements.
The quoted price is for the self-drive option to the lodges. Should you prefer to be privately transported to each of the lodges, add $400 per person (pricing to be confirmed upon booking).
Rental Car Exclusions:
- Airline flights (international and domestic)
- Refundable rental deposit (ZAR2 400), Contract fee (ZAR70), E-Toll fees, Young driver surcharge - 18-20 year old (ZAR300 per day), Baby/child seat (ZAR350 per rental), Claim administration fee (ZAR715 per incident), Traffic fine administration fee (ZAR275 per incident), Domestic one way/drop off fees if over 50km typically R920, Delivery/collection fee during office hours - Monday to Friday 8am-5pm within 25km (ZAR360), Delivery/collection fee after hours within 25km (ZAR705), Fuel, Valet or excessive dirt, Lost keys and Call Out fee (ZAR575 + replacement of keys)
- Travel insurance (essential)
- Visas if required (see notes below)
- Items of a personal nature, gratuities, curios
- Immunization, inoculation & medication
- All services, meals & drinks not specified above
- Surcharge for early/late pickups for road transfers between 21:00 and 06:00 (unless flight arrival/departure times are given at time of quotation)
- Accommodations and meals as listed
- Bike activity
- Car rental (Stolen or Theft Loss Waiver, Super Collision Damage Waiver, Tyre, rim and hubcap waiver, Windscreen damage waiver, Airport surcharge, Unlimited mileage, Water and Undercarraige damage (conditions apply), First additional driver)
- Game drive per day at Kololo Game Reserve
- One activity in Morning Sun Nature Reserve per night
- Two game drives, guided safari walks daily at Motswari Private Game Reserve
Not as good for:
Other Necessary Information
It is vital to ensure that you have comprehensive travel and health insurance before traveling. The biggest risk you are likely to experience in Africa is from the sun. The sun in the southern hemisphere is more intense than in the north and contains more ultra-violet light. You are advised to use high factor sunscreen and wear brimmed hats, sunglasses and always have a long-sleeved shirt available to cover up if necessary.
Confirm that you are up to date with the vaccinations you should normally have. However, in all cases you must discuss your own particular needs and contraindications with your doctor, or at a travel clinic, at least 4 weeks before travel, for up-to-date, individual advice.