With the draw of the Big Five, city sightseeing and golden beaches, safari holidays to South Africa and South Africa family getaways provide unforgettable memories. Combining the best of both worlds, family safaris in South Africa offer enthralling activities and experiences to explore. Not only can you observe magnificent birdlife in Tsitsikamma, but you can also search for striking mammals at Addo Elephant Park.

The range of wildlife experiences available from north to south make the rainbow nation a prime location for African adventures. So, where are the best family holiday destinations in South Africa?

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Lalibela Game Reserve

Home to the Big Five of lion, leopard, elephant, buffalo and rhino, Lalibela Game Reserve is great for a classic African safari escape. The private reserve, which is close to Port Elizabeth and Addo Elephant National Park on the Eastern Cape, is malaria-free and features excellent game viewing for all families. 

Take your game vehicle out for a spin and spot a cluster of the 350 species of bird, from elegant blue cranes to fierce jackal buzzards. Predators like cheetah and jackal also roam the 10,500 hectares. Between learning about their hunting techniques and Lalibela's conservation efforts, enjoy the spectacular views of lush savannah grasslands while the kids partake in a host of educational activities themselves.

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Garden Route

Over on the Western Cape, discover blue duiker in the indigenous forests along the Garden Route. Stretching 300 kilometres from the small town of Mossel Bay to the mouth of the Storms River, there are countless wildlife experiences to explore. The coastal areas, Knysna and Plettenberg Bay, harbour southern right whales from June to November and migratory humpbacks between May and June. For children, seeing these gentle giants up close is utterly magical.

After marvelling at the colourful aquatic life at Plettenberg Bay, why not hop back on the road with your private vehicle on a Garden Route & Kruger Self-Drive? This 15-night South Africa family safari holiday invites you to embark on a nature walk, visit a penguin colony and enjoy a thrilling game drive in one trip.

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Kruger National Park

Situated in the far North-East of the country, the world-famous Kruger National Park is the place to be for rare black rhino and white rhino species. In addition, African elephants frolic in the tall grass and relish in mud baths! Because of its diverse habitats, you'll even witness many of the 150 mammals and 500 bird species.

Kruger National Park is a firm family favourite for its iconic animals. In the south, the landscapes are more varied and the game more plentiful. However, the north offers remote and unique landscapes such as the fever tree forests near the border of Zimbabwe and Mozambique. At most lodges, dedicated children's safari programmes will keep your little ones occupied and teach them about the important work done to protect the local wildlife and communities.

During your visit, you may come across a herd of zebra or even catch a glimpse of an agile cheetah in the wild!

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Why not explore Waterberg, one of South Africa's best kept secrets? Just a three-hour drive north of Johannesburg, these rolling landscapes of red mountains, rocky outcrops and rugged gorges present a wondrous setting for your travels. Big game such as elephant and hippo make the 12,000 hectares their home and birdlife from great egret to black-billed barbet woodpecker populate the Waterberg-Nylsvley Birding Route.

There are plenty of activities for kids to explore as well. Whether it's a game drive in Welgevonden or exciting game viewing on horseback at Ant's Nest & Ant's Hill, every wildlife experience is entirely unique. All-in-all, Waterberg is an excellent holiday destination in South Africa for family adventures.

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Drakensberg Mountains

Stunning views of escarpments and peaks, beautiful waterfalls and rivers teeming with lively fish, lush vegetation blanketing the terrain – Drakensberg is a treasure trove of natural habitats where wildlife thrive. Discover the area's ancient San rock art and nearby private game reserves, ideal for a safari with kids.

Located in KwaZulu Natal, the Drakensberg mountains area – which is malaria-free – sees large herds of grazing reedbuck and eland inhabiting these awe-inspiring landscapes. Bird watching trips at Maloti Drakensberg Park also provide plenty of sightings, from curious Cape vultures to graceful African marsh harriers. Around the boutique Fordoun Spa Hotel, you and your family can even go mountain biking through the farm's winding trails before relaxing and rejuvenating in the property's private swimming pool.

"The Drakensberg is the highest mountain range in Southern Africa, a lesser-travelled location bordering the Kingdom of Lesotho. Fun-loving families will adore the array of activities on offer and the value for money is excellent. Think snow-capped peaks in winter and silver mountain streams meandering various walking trails in summer. For a magical experience, explore the Zulu cultures and combine your visit with a battlefields route and safari."

- Janine Bullen, Africa Travel Specialist

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Madikwe Game Reserve

South Africa's North West Province is a diverse region known for its diamond mining history, agricultural roots and spectacular wildlife experiences. In the malaria-free Madikwe Game Reserve, rare big cats such as caracal and serval roam the lands in search of prey while scrub hare and kudu actively avoid predators.

Madikwe Game Reserve also provides excellent accommodation for families. Tuningi Safari Lodge is a child friendly option with four family villas and two family suites to choose from. While in the North West Province, younger ones can go treasure hunting whereas older teens take part in an afternoon game drive.

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Wild Coast

From walking along white sandy beaches to watching birds navigate extensive indigenous forests, the Wild Coast is a haven for outdoor adventures and family friendly activities. It’s a place where ancient traditions remain very much alive, and something entirely different to touring areas like the Garden Route.

Set up high on the steep cliffs overlooking the Mbotyi River estuary, Mbotyi River Lodge is ideal for a South African family holiday. The river lodge, which is home to a natural habitat for more than 100 bird species, offers inexpensive accommodation and a wide range of experiences. Whether it's water sports such as kayaking or horse riding on the local trails, there's something for the whole family to enjoy.

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The Cape Winelands

Just outside the city of Cape Town, you'll discover charming towns and lush gardens all throughout the Cape Winelands. South Africa's largest wine-producing region encompasses the towns of Franschhoek, Stellenbosch, Paarl and Wellington. Not only do you get to sip on world-class wines, but you can even experience Winelands, Whales and Wildlife all in one trip. Combining a relaxing Cape Town visit with guided game drives and whale watching excursions, this leisurely self-drive is the ultimate family adventure.

Away from Cape Town, by checking in at La Clé Village, Franschhoek, you and the family will be treated to a host of thrilling activities during your stay. While the kids have fun with their cookie baking classes, you can head towards Dieu Donné Vineyards and admire its breathtaking views of the Franschhoek mountains.

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Port Elizabeth

Nicknamed 'the friendly city' and 'the windy city', Port Elizabeth is a bustling location set within distance of multiple wildlife reserves and parks. A short drive north takes you up to Addo Elephant National Park, where the Big Five live across the diverse landscapes of Karoo, grassland, fynbos, thicket and forest.

Although you'd normally use Port Elizabeth as a base to explore wildlife areas, there's also the option to encounter marine life along the coastline. On a day trip to the white sandy beaches, you may spot a pod of dolphins from the sun-soaked shores. But by embarking further via boat from late winter to the middle of summer, you can discover southern right whales and great white sharks in the crystal-clear waters!

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De Hoop Nature Reserve

During your adventures from Cape Town to the Garden Route, what better way to break up your journey than with a visit to De Hoop Nature Reserve? This excellent malaria free safari for the entire family promises spectacular views of sand dunes, fynbos and mountains while offering a wealth of wildlife to watch. Discover striking bontebok and Cape mountain zebra grazing with their foals in the plateaus.

Alternatively, you can embark on a guided or self-guided hike and experience natural history enveloping right before your very eyes. There's abundant birdlife scattered throughout the rich landscapes and land-based whale watching available from May to November. As such, De Hoop is perfect for a safari with kids.

Experience a Family Friendly Safari in South Africa

Between its malaria-free nature reserves and exciting wildlife activities for children to discover, South Africa is a fantastic choice for your next family adventure. With so many family holiday destinations to choose from though, it can potentially be difficult to land on that one experience everyone will love!

So, speak with our expert Travel Specialists to start planning your ultimate safari itinerary. From seasoned safari goers to young children, there's a game reserve to suit every type of traveller.

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