“We weren't sure what to expect from a safari or whether our children were too small, but at 7 and 8 they loved it. We wanted to go somewhere malaria free and South Africa was suggested. We visited Ant's Nest first and were surprised at the very warm and heartfelt welcome - they are huggers, not hand shakers. It has a very laid back, relaxed and friendly vibe which is exactly what you want on holiday with kids.
They ask you the night before how you want to spend your day, what time you want breakfast, and what activities you want to do. We were spoiled for choice, with game drives, walks, archery, and swimming but the main reason to go there is the horses. The children had never ridden before and they found horses with the right temperament for them, allowing us to ride out into the bush together – they even had someone walk next to our youngest son’s horse just as a safety precaution.
We had magical picnic lunches and evening meals under the stars. It was also where we had our first sundowner and it didn't disappoint – it’s something that needs to be experienced by all! The tranquility of watching the sky turning beautiful shades of pink and orange, whilst sipping a crisp gin and tonic is simply wonderful. The night sky was so clear that you could see the milky way and even a second galaxy which is something we don't see with our light pollution in big cities.
The guides were all so friendly and perfect for the children. We learned so much and some of the most interesting facts were about the ants and flora rather than the game, the kids even ate buffalo thorn leaves to see how sweet it was. The rhino here were fed by the owners and an option for sundowners was to go to their house and watch them feed the rhino from their high deck area. The children thought this was magical and helped out. It was amazing to encounter these huge beasts in such close proximity that you could feel the ground shake as they walked.
Impodimo was next and it’s where we saw lion for the first time. A pride had been sleeping in the afternoon and not long after we arrived, I could hear my heart beating as a big male got up and walked past our jeep - it was electrifying. We followed slowly as he padded down to a waterhole and lazily lapped up a seemingly huge amount of water. The rest of the pride then made an appearance and there were 3 cubs that played tag around a termite mound, pouncing on each other and having fun under the fading sun. It was lovely to watch and something we all still talk about.
Madikwe Safari Lodge gave us a very warm welcome and we had a beautiful villa that had a separate room with bunk beds for the kids - it was really well thought out and perfect for families. Our first meal was ostrich skewers which was divine. There is a kid’s club and eco room which the boys really enjoyed. They had a lizard and tarantula and all sorts of learning materials. Every time we went past the pool area, we went to have a look at the animals which were only around 500 feet away at the nearby waterhole. We saw warthog, giraffe, zebra, and elephant peacefully drinking and splashing around in the water. It was a place to lose track of time simply watching the parade of animals with the children.
Overall the safari was something we didn't know was a good idea and whether it would be too much for the children with the early starts and sitting quiet and still for hours. We shouldn't have worried, as they were enthralled by the animals and the experience. Beach holidays tend to mingle together in the memory and can be hard to distinguish one from another. The safari holiday in South Africa was something that has not been forgotten and our shared experiences have been told countless times with still the same enthusiasm and glee as the first time. We simply loved it.”