Top Five Family-Friendly Safari Destinations in South Africa


To visit Africa at least once in a lifetime is a dream for everyone. Whether you are young or old, it is an exciting destination. Many might think that Africa is not a great destination for families to visit, but being in the bush, the kids have the freedom to be outside. They get to enjoy the African sun, fresh air and learn more about nature. The only downside to visiting the Greater Kruger National Park in South Africa is that this is a malaria area. Malaria prophylaxis is recommended when travelling to this area. However, most parents would prefer not to give their children any medication when travelling. But this would not have to prevent you from going on a safari in South Africa. There are plenty of other Big 5 game reserves that are malaria-free and offer great wildlife sightings.  

Cape Town and the Garden Route

A popular stop while travelling to South Africa would be Cape Town. There are plenty of international flights arriving directly into Cape Town and this is a great start to any holiday. Arriving in Cape Town would give you a few days to relax after your international flight as well as to get used to your new surroundings.

Should your time be limited and you would only be in Cape Town for a few days, but would still like to experience a game drive there are a few reserves close by that you would be able to visit. You can either do a quick day visit or you can even overnight. Some of the popular reserves for day visits from Cape Town would include Aquila Private Game Reserve or Inverdoorn Game Reserve.

From Cape Town, a great area to explore would be the Garden Route. This is often a forgotten gem. The Garden Route includes popular towns like Plettenberg Bay, Oudtshoorn and Knysna. Along the Garden Route, there are also some great game reserves you can include in your trip. Sanbona Wildlife Reserve is among the favourite and is famous for their white lion sightings. Another favourite along the Garden Route would be Gondwana Game Reserve. This is a great stop when travelling with a large family as they have an African Villa that can accommodate up to 4 adults and 4 children. All with its own private chef, butler and field guide.

Eastern Cape

When travelling along the Garden Route, most travellers will end in Port Elizabeth from where they will board their domestic flight onwards to their next destination. However, if you missed the game reserves en-route. Don’t fear. From Port Elizabeth there are also great game reserves you can visit, some are only about an hours drive away.  

The Addo Elephant National Park is one of the more popular stops as this reserve allows day visitors as well as self-drive routes. This park is home to one of the largest African Elephant populations. So if it is elephants you are after, then this is a park not to be missed.

There are a number of private reserves close to Port Elizabeth as well. Shamwari Game Reserve and Kwandwe Game Reserve are among the most popular.  

Pilanesberg Game Reserve

Should you not be able to include a visit to Cape Town or the Garden Route in your stay and Johannesburg be your only stop, Pilanesberg National Park would be the ideal location for your family-friendly safari. Only about 3 hours drive from Johannesburg, you can include this as a day visit or an overnight stop.

The reserve offers great photographic hides, giving you a comfortable stop to sit and wait for the perfect shot. This is an ideal location to view wildlife and birds in their natural environment, completely out of sight.

Madikwe Game Reserve

The Madikwe Game Reserve is another game reserve located close to Johannesburg. Being about a 4.5-hour drive from Johannesburg, you can either self-drive to your lodge or you can opt for a short charter flight to one of the airstrips in the reserve. One of the rangers from the lodge will then meet you here and transfer you straight to the lodge.  

The Madikwe Game Reserve is also a Big 5 reserve but is popular for the Wild Dog sightings as well as both black and white rhinos.


When planning an African safari, the Kalahari is often overlooked. Travelling with families this would be ideal as it offers wide-open spaces and children can be children again. They can enjoy the outdoors and soak up the African sun.

The Kalahari might not be your first choice for a Big 5 safari, but here you get to see the hard to find species like aardvark, pangolin, African wild cat and brown hyena. Another favourite would be a visit to the Meerkats.  

Tswalu is a great property when looking for a Kalahari Safari and they offer both individual units or a homestead for parties of up to 10 guests travelling.

When planning your next family safari, don’t forget South Africa. With all the options of Malaria-free reserves, you can enjoy a great safari without any risk for the family.