Going on safari with children can seem daunting, but not if you choose the right location. Jasreen Mayal Khanna tells us why Gondwana Game Reserve, South Africa, will be an experience of a lifetime for both you and your children.
While planning my holiday to Cape Town with my best friend and her son Momo, we considered going on a safari at Kruger National Park. But the idea of putting little the little boy through two more flights was unappealing. A local friend mentioned that Gondwana Game Reserve was within driving distance of the city, just at the start of the Garden Route in Mossel Bay. We did a bit of research and realised that not only was Gondwana more accessible but it also specialised in children’s safaris. That was enough to convince us.
The drive from Cape Town to Mossel Bay on the Garden Route took about five hours, but the journey was spectacular. While Momo slept in the back, my friend and I marvelled at the landscape, which changed from coastal vegetation to vineyards to indigenous bush. On reaching the reserve, we were taken to the very plush Luxury Bush Villa, in which all families with children under six years are accommodated. It had a cosy kids’ room on the top floor and two spacious bedrooms next to the open living room. The bungalow had modern amenities such as flat-screen TVs with a DVD collection (who doesn’t want to watch The Lion King after an African safari?), bathtubs and electric fireplaces. The walls were also decorated with chic African artifacts and framed photographs of wildlife. Momo was very excited to find out that he got his own room and proceeded to explore, while the grown-ups sipped wine and watched the gorgeous sunset from the deck.
Early next morning, we took off for our first game drive. Most reserves do not allow children below the age of six years to set out in a Jeep, but Gondwana was able to arrange a private car for our group (at an additional cost). Our ranger was called PG and he made a special effort to befriend Momo and explain the whole experience to him. Over the course of our stay, we spotted zebra, giraffe, lion, impala, cheetah and more. PG was superb at explaining how the wildlife is adapted to life in the bush and how the rangers watch for signs to spot animals.
After the safari, he gave Momo an activity kit and taught him how to draw, colour and learn the names of the animals that we had seen. The lodge also guides children on how to spot constellations in the night sky once the safaris are over. At meal times, the restaurant had a special kids’ menu, which made my friend’s holiday stress-free. Our two days passed by with exciting game drives and thrilling stories narrated by the staff.
Months later, I was on the phone with my friend discussing the amazing experience that we had in South Africa. She mentioned how Momo still remembers the name of our guide and the things he learnt with amazing clarity. That was when I realised how truly special the safari had been for him, and for us, too.
To find out more about Gondwana, visit www.gondwanagr.co.za.