Taking A South African Safari Adventure With Your Kids Is Not A Crazy Idea!
“You are planning on going to the Kruger National Park with your 15 month old son?!?” a friend of mine asked incredulously when I excitedly told her about our holiday plans. “Yes!”, I responded emphatically, laughing, “why not?”. And ‘why not’ indeed! It is an amazing holiday destination – relaxing, educational and exciting, all at the same time.
The Kruger National Park
The Kruger National Park is famous the world over and with good reason: it is huge (600km’s to be exact) and it has a wondrously awe-inspiring selection of wildlife, game, birds, plants and trees available. Not only do you have a chance to see the Big 5 (Buffalo, Elephant, Leopard, Lion and Rhino), the park is also home to the Little 5 (Buffalo Weaver, Elephant Shrew, Leopard Tortoise, Ant Lion and Rhino Beetle), the Birding Big 6 (Ground Hornbill, Kori Bustard, Lappet-faced Vulture, Martial Eagle, Pel’s Fishing Owl and Saddle-bill Stork) and the Big 5 Trees (Baobab, Fever Tree, Knob Thorn, Marula and Mopane).
The border of KNP, the Crocodile River
Kruger National Park offers a variety of accommodation options including camping, chalets and safari tents (our favourite option is the safari tent accommodation which comes complete with a braai and a fridge!).
Safari Tent at KNP
For this trip however, we had the opportunity to stay in a self catering house situated in the Mjejane Game Reserve. This Game Reserve is also home to the Big 5 and borders KNP. It is also the only reserve with direct gate access into the Kruger. Sadly, this gate was closed during our stay, so we had to enter the Kruger through one of their main gates as day visitors (meaning that we could only stay in the park during 06:00 and 18:00 daily).
The house we stayed in bordered a big game fence which meant that a variety of wildlife often simply walked past our house while we were relaxing by the pool or in the lounge. This really was magical and our son simply loved looking at the buck, warthog, elephants, birds and baboons as they strolled past.
A family of warthogs walking past our house
Game Drive Activities WithKids
Kruger Park is largely built for the purpose of self-drive, i.e. all visitors drive their own vehicles through the park looking for wildlife sightings, and this is exactly what we did. Considering how frustrated kids get in the car though, we often stopped for breaks in safe areas (where we were allowed to exit the car) and we kept our game drive trips short. This meant that we would be in the park by 07:00 and leave by 12:00. We also packed a lot of toys and books to keep Bean entertained.
We were lucky enough to see Rhino, Elephant, Buffalo, Ground Hornbill, Giraffe, Hippo and much more! I loved looking at my son’s eyes as they lit up in excitement when we saw a new animal he had never seen before.
Although KNP does offer guided game drives, these are only allowed from the age of 12.
One of the picnic spots in KNP, Afsaal.
Rhino, just chilling!
When travelling to Kruger National Park (whether with or without kids), it is important to be aware of the fact that you are travelling to a wild area with wild (and often dangerous) animals and that this area does have Malaria. The following precautions therefore should be adhered to:
- Find out where the nearest medical facility is in case of an emergency
- Do your research about the prevalence of Malaria as well as the precautions to take (if you would prefer a Malaria-free holiday in a game reserve, you can visit Rhino River Lodge in KwaZulu Natal
- Pack a first aid kit
- Be aware of snakes, scorpions and spiders
- Be aware and adhere to the rules of KNP with regards to safety
- It gets hot, so pack a hat and sunscreen
For an extensive list of what to pack for a holiday in the Kruger National Park, read this to get our free printable checklist.
So, to get back to my friend’s incredulous reaction to our safari adventure and her prompt question upon our return, of whether we would do this again if we had the chance, my answer is still: “Yes! Why not?”. Our holiday was simply amazing!
About The Author: Alexa is an adventurous mom and travel blogger writing about unique local experiences, family friendly excursions and things to do and see when you visit South Africa at www.thingstodowithkids.co.za where you can get some more inspiration for child friendly activities in and around South Africa.
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