Biscuit baking, bug walks and pool picnics on a safari in Africa?
Yes, when you take the kids to Thornybush Nature Reserve!
The 38,000-acre private game reserve in the northeastern Limpopo province of South Africa is one of the few in the country offering child-friendly lodges.
Family safaris at Thornybush Nature Reserve mean you don’t have to leave the kids behind when you go on safari.
Family safaris at Thornybush Game Lodge
The biggest player is the Thornybush Collection of four- and five-star game lodges.
It owns or operates 11 lodges in the Thornybush Reserve, as well as the lovely Simbambili Game Lodge (for adults) in neighboring Sabi Sands Game Reserve.
Children are actively welcomed at both Thornybush Game Lodge and Serondella.
Other lodges in the collection accept youngsters if the family books out the sole use of the camp.
Children must be six and older to go out on game drives.
Your family is assigned a ranger-guide who enjoys interacting with young guests, and drives can be tailored to suit kids’ interests and attention spans.
Kids are unlikely to get bored on game drives – not when they see, almost within touching distance from their open Land Cruiser, a cheetah bloodily devouring an impala (gross!) or a hyena suckling her pups (cute!).
The Thornybush experience
Accommodations are very comfy in the Thornybush Collection.
All lodges have electricity and air-conditioning.
Thornybush Game Lodge – the flagship camp in Thornybush Nature Reserve – has 20 suites, each with indoor and outdoor showers and giant sliding doors to private viewing decks.
Two suites can sleep families of five. With large living rooms and private plunge pools, they also double as honeymoon suites.
The lodge also has a main pool for the use of all guests.
The dining area at Thornybush Game Lodge overlooks a waterhole, often visited by elephants and buffalo.
Lodge meals are buffet-style.
One evening, we ate in the lodge’s outdoor boma (African gathering place).
Seated at communal tables, we feasted by lantern light on barbecued impala and lamb – trying some fine South African Pinotage too.
A couple of wee ones were curled up on mattresses by the blazing fire pit. South African hospitality at its best, we thought.
Thornybush Game Lodge
Explore more of South Africa!
Read our posts on:
Cape Town | Hiking up Table Mountain isn’t exactly a walk in the park. But it’s one of the best things to do in Cape Town!
Wine tasting in South Africa | There are more than 185 great wineries in Stellenbosch. We hit many of them!
Where to stay in Cape Town | For a luxury retreat, the 12 Apostles Hotel offers amazing ocean views, walking trails and divine dining.
Photo credits: 6 © Janice and George Mucalov, SandInMySuitcase | Remaining images Thornybush Game Lodge (except lead image)
About the authors
Luxury travel journalists and SATW, NATJA and TMAC “Best Travel Blog” award winners, Janice and George Mucalov are the publishers of Sand In My Suitcase. Between them, they’ve traveled to all 7 continents. See About.
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Monday 18th of July 2022
Thornybush looks like a wonderful safari place for staying with children because there are so many conveniences and it seems to me that you can feel at home at Thornybush Game Lodge, which is really important. It's so cool that you can look at a waterhole from the dining area!
Thursday 8th of August 2013
An African safari is at the top of our family's travel wish list. What a great place to enjoy the animals. Glad to know there are family-friendly safaris out there. My kids would love this. Thanks for this!