There’s a cliché that the family who plays together, stays together. Or something like that. I suppose clichés tend to stick around because…well…they are often true. If I had to take a poll of one hundred families, you would probably find the happiest ones take the time to just enjoy one another’s company. I will write a few blog articles about how to maximize home playtime, but this article tells you about the easy-to-access getaways where you escape to just enjoy your tribe – no distractions besides the beautiful backdrop.
Phinda Mountain Lodge (Phinda Game Reserve, KZN)
Phinda Game Reserve offers a diverse and exciting wildlife experience that is absolutely ideal for adventurous families. Its excellent location on a game-dense coastal reserve allows access to marine and land-based wildlife, and the astute guides will curate your excursions to deepen your understanding of the wild. Whether you are night diving with turtles, tracking black rhino on foot, or searching for leopard in a 4×4, Phinda offers a top notch safari with an unusual twist.
The Family Cottages are beautifully designed with sweeping vistas of the surrounding bushveld. Each of the cottages has a private plunge pool, so your family can unwind together in privacy between the more rigorous activities available at the lodge. During your stay, you will be allocated a private 4×4 vehicle so you can game drive at a pace that suits your family, without inviting the consternation of your fellow guests. We’ve all been there!
Umngazi River Bungalows (Wild Coast)
I was having a conversation with a seasoned family traveller, and she said to me “Out of all the expensive holidays we’ve splashed out for the kids, the only one they ever talk about is Umngazi. It’s kind of annoying actually.” That, of course, piqued my interest so I booked our tickets and headed to this locally famous getaway for a taste of idyllic family time. Umngazi did not disappoint.
The setting of the bungalows is truly unbelievable. Flanked by a calm river and the turbulent Indian Ocean, the bungalows are set amidst tropical gardens with the most spectacular views. The cottages are designed nicely, if a bit dated – but you don’t even notice because there are so many amazing things to do. Checking in, you have the option of enjoying tons of interesting excursions during the day, and adult play time in the evening. The kids can be allocated professional nannies, and they have special areas for kid crafts, kids activities, and even a kids dining room. All this, and it still manages to have an intimate and authentic feel.
I remember going to the bar for our regular afternoon drink by the pool, and saying to my husband, “wow the only decision we have to make is which view we should take in from our lounger.” Not a bad holiday, moms and dads.
Morukuru Beach Lodge (De Hoop Nature Reserve)
Situated in amidst the picturesque seaside sand dunes of De Hoop Nature Reserve, Morukuru offers an exciting array of family activities in a luxurious lodge setting. Activities range from sandboarding and birdwatching to stargazing and romantic beach picnics. With babysitters on hand and a fantastic kids program, parents can escape for an hour or two of much needed time to connect with each other. The rooms enjoy sweeping views of sand and sea, inviting lazy days listening to the subtle sounds of waves crashing at your doorstep.
Offering excellent access to Southern Right whales from April to September, 4×4 game drives through the fynbos, and tidal pool walks, one has the sense of being utterly immersed in nature at Morukuru. What more could a discerning family ask for?
Kersefontein (West Coast)
This qtarmstay offers an unusual experience that will enthrall your children and provide endless entertainment for adults. As well as that all important quiet time together. Proprietor Julian Melck is the somewhat eccentric backdrop for your stay, and he seems to have endless capacity for hosting guests in what is essentially an extension of his personal home.
The kids will spend their days chasing chickens, feeding pigs, petting horses, and mimicking the sounds of sheep bleating from their pens. You can bring a little picnic and feed them under the old oak trees while watching the Berg River slowly meander past.
Come evening, Julian hosts a formal dinner straight out of Africa circa 1920, with guests sharing a huge table in a decorous colonial dining room. The conversation is always interesting, with international guests often of quite high academic caliber – my husband sometimes likes to just sit back and enjoy the lively discourse. Night owls can enjoy music and more random conversation at the bar while weary parents sit back and let the silent night lull them to sleep.