March 22, 2023

Thornybush Reserve’s family-friendly safari lodges are a fun-filled vacation for all ages

Head to the lantern-lit, communal tables at the outdoor boma (gathering place) in South Africa for barbecued impala and a local Pinotage.

Figure you’ll have to wait to check the game-viewing trip to South Africa off your bucket list until you are empty-nesters? No need now that lodges on the 38,000-acre Thornybush Nature Reserve in the northeastern Limpopo province cater to families. Choose between Thornybush Game Lodge or Serondella–or rent out the entire camp and get your choice of up to seven others.

Game drives, the area’s headlining activity, are open to children six years and older and are bound to keep them wide-eyed and bushy-tailed. The assigned guides are great with kids and will enthusiastically point out the “Big Five” – lions, Cape buffalos, elephants, leopards, and rhinos – along with the highs (like a hyena suckling her pups) and lows (like a cheetah feasting on an impala) of the circle of life. Being privately-owned allows for plenty of off-roading into the bush for closer looks at zebra, giraffe, and vervet monkeys. It’s a spectacle to be sure, but “ranger-in-training” backpacks furnished upon check-in contain boredom- and hunger-fighting ammunition just in case little attention spans wander. To see lions on the prowl (instead of sleeping), schedule a ride for after sunset.

Back at camp, full electricity and air-conditioning are among the creature comforts while the private plunge pools in the suites at the flagship Thornybush Game Lodge will delight a family as large as five–or a couple on their honeymoon looking for some luxury.

Be sure to take a break from the kids one morning to remember what life was like before them. While they’re treated to a ranger-led hunt for lion tracks or termite mounds, you can slip away for a couples’ massage and hydro “bush bath” at Thornybush Game Lodge’s Amani Spa.


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