A South African safari with a 7 year old

We planned a trip to Mauritius to celebrate some big birthdays in 2019 and whilst talking to a travel agent they recommend that we make it in to a multi centre holiday and combine it with an African safari. As our Pip was only 6 and the other children we would be travelling with were 8and 11, we didn’t want to have to deal with malaria and malaria tablets so settled on Medikwe Game Reserve which is on the boarder with Botswana and more importantly is malaria free. We had 2 nights on safari and it was a perfect length of time, especially for a smaller reserve.

Where we stayed

There a number of different lodges in Medikwe and we stayed at Motswiri Private Safari Lodge. This is a small lodge with 5 bush villa’s and a family villa with it’s own pool. It was perfect for kids.

On arrival we were greeted with fresh juices. The villas fan out on either side of the main building and the whole area is fenced so whilst there are the occasional smaller animals hanging out around the villas the larger animals are kept out.

We stayed in a bush villa with a large canopied bed and a smaller camp bed for Pip. The bathroom was almost as big as the bedroom with a huge bath. The villa also comes with an outdoor shower that is completely private and overlooks the watering hole. There is nothing more magical than showering whilst elephants wander past

The family villa is equally as comfortable and has 3 separate bedrooms so would be great for families with multiple generations or older kids that don’t want to share rooms. It has it’s own private small pool. We were there in August which is winter but it was still very warm and the kids were brave enough to swim even though the water was chilly.

What we got up to

Your stay includes two safari drives a day in the lodge’s open top safari vehicles. The first one starts before dawn, so around 6:30am when we were there. It was incredible to set out in the dark and watch as the sun rose, and it was an impressive sunrise both mornings. mornings were chilly so we started out in jackets and with blankets but once the sun rose it soon warmed up. Usually around 9:00am we stopped for a snack and a drink and our guide found a spot where we could stop and set up a table and stretch our legs.

The second safari drive was late afternoon when it was starting to get cooler and the animals were waking up and becoming more active.

We managed to see a wide variety of animals. This included zebra, a variety of different antelopes, elephants, giraffe and coyote. We also saw a black rhino which we had missed seeing when we were on safari in Kenya. The animals are used to seeing the safari vehicles that it doesn’t bother them at all to have them there and you can get up close and personal while the animals carry on with what they are doing and ignore you. Unlike when we were in Kenya there are rules at Medikwe about how many vehicles can be in one place at a time so whilst the guides are continuously radioing each other with updates on where the animals are there is never a massive crowd of vehicles competing to view them.

Every game drive the aim was to spot lions, we followed tracks and possible sightings but didn’t manage to spot them until the very last day when we managed to stumble across the pride just chilling in the sun. This was the highlight of the holiday for us and the kids.

Our guide had been a teacher and was great at showing the kids animal tracks, explaining about the nature reserve and even teaching them to spit impala poo, a necessary life skill (this is a game that South African children play and perfectly safe apparently). They took it in turns to sit in the front seat with him and ask a million questions.

The Food

Breakfast was a buffet or fruits and cereals and also a cooked option made to order. It was served out on the deck by the pool where you could watch the animals coming and going.

There was a dinner menu but the chef came out to talk to us each morning and we were able to make requests for dietary requirements. On our second night we were celebrating our friends birthday and the chef brought out the biggest chocolate cake ever. The staff sang happy birthday and then some traditional songs and dances, the energy was amazing. Dinner was served inside on an evening.

Getting there

We rented a car and drove from Johannesburg. The drive took about 4 hours but was fairly easy and the roads were quiet. The kids loved that we could spot animals on the drive and had to stop at one point as there was a troop of baboons crossing the road. There is a number of places to stop on the route which we did for food and souvenir shopping.

There is also the option to fly from Johannesburg if this is a better option.

We did a safari in Kenya for our honeymoon which definitely wasn’t kid friendly but this was smaller and more family friendly. We were looked after so well and the food and accommodation was superb.

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