Liselle Takes Tiny Toddlers on Safari to Madikwe
Jun01

Liselle Takes Tiny Toddlers on Safari to Madikwe

A few years ago you started a family and now your angelic toddlers are mobile – they’re teetering on the edge of becoming a preschooler and need to learn about their colourful surrounds. It’s probably been a couple of years since you’ve enjoyed a holiday and now that the kids are bumbling around, it’s time to take them on their first safari. The wild inspires, enthrals and delights all who encounter its beauty. It’s the perfect holiday option for families to reconnect while being pampered and cocooned in the raw power of nature. And, it’s never to early for children to learn how to respect and love the wild! The problem is – where do you go on safari with tiny toddlers? Major concerns include babysitting issues, malaria, game drives with youngsters who can’t sit still and staying in child-friendly accommodation. We sent one of our travel consultants, Liselle Raath and her burgeoning family on an expedition to the malaria -free Madikwe Game Reserve in the Greater Kruger to explore two luxurious, family-friendly lodges. And she was only too happy to give us feedback! The Madikwe Game Reserve is based in the Kruger’s North-West province and is home to the big five, over 300 species of bird and a wealth of big game. Their choice of lodges included Tuningi Safari Lodge and Madikwe Safari Lodge, both of which have exceptional programmes geared towards children and plenty of outlets for adults to pamper themselves. Here’s our travel consultant chat with Liselle about her experience with tiny toddlers on safari in Madikwe. 1. Is there a structured kids programme to keep the tiny tots entertained? Yes! And there’s loads to keep the little ones entertained. 2. Are children allowed to go on game drives? Yes, kids over 6 are allowed on game drives.  Kids under 6 can do a bumble game drive for an hour after breakfast with their parents. 3. Is there an in-house babysitting service?  Yes. Normally they charge approx. R75 an hour/per child. 4. Is there a high concentration of wildlife in the area?  We had  a great wildlife experience overall and saw lion, cheetah, elephant, buffalo, rhino and plains game. In South Africa, it was our second best game viewing after Kruger, but overall the best malaria-free safari experience in South Africa! 5. Are the rooms/suites child-friendly? Very, yes.  We had a 2-bedroom villa at Madikwe Safari Lodge and at Tuningi they have baby cots with mosquito nets and a sleeper couch for kids in the rooms. 6. Do the lodges have menu for kid’s? Yes – one can expect spaghetti, sandwiches, macaroni & cheese, pizzas and chicken schnitzels. And there was lots of fruit and cereal for breakfast...

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Our Team Travels: Ulusaba Rock Lodge, SabiSand – Michelle Astbury
May18

Our Team Travels: Ulusaba Rock Lodge, SabiSand – Michelle Astbury

Ulusaba Rock Lodge Sun Safaris’ Product and Reservations Manager, Michelle, travelled to Sabi Sand recently to explore some of the lodges on offer by Sun Safaris. She travelled with her sister Kathryn and together they saw amazing wildlife and stayed at some beautiful lodges. Here is Michelle’s review of Ulusaba Private Game Reserve – Sir Richard Branson’s home in Sabi! Ulusaba has 3 lodges, the first is Ulusaba Safari Lodge, built under large trees along a riverbed, and the other two are Ulusaba Rock Lodge and Ulusaba Cliff Lodge. Cliff Lodge is perfect for small groups or families as it has its own team and facilities. Just next door on the same koppie (hill) is Rock Lodge. Ulusaba; what a treat   We drove in from Newington Gate, winding our way through the western Sabi Sand Game Reserve towards Ulusaba.  We arrived at Ulusaba’s reception, which is located away from both Ulusaba Rock Lodge and Ulusaba Safari Lodge, at their private landing strip. We were met by our ranger Brandon, hot refreshing towels in hand, followed a short briefing accompanied by cool champagne. After we checked in we met Jack our tracker and were driven up to Ulusaba Rock Lodge in the Landrover safari vehicle, the 4×4 engaged to get us up the steep hill! Vikkus, the General Manager met us on arrival and swept us into the main lodge. You enter the main lodge lounge from upstairs, showcasing the beautiful décor and breath-taking views, before ascending the wide staircase taking us into the dining area, housing one of the lounges, the bar and the outside deck. Sitting in plush leather couches with the whole of the Sabi Sand bush stretching out below us whilst Vikkus animatedly discussed the lodge and our itinerary, we understood immediately why this spectacular place was special enough to be included in the Branson Virgin portfolio.  Our luxury Makwela Suite sported a beautiful lounge opening onto a private viewing deck, plunge pool and outdoor shower under the stars before walking 2 steps down into the serene bedroom and deck lounge. The en suite bathroom was opulent, with dual basins, large ball and claw bath, walk in shower and heavenly scented aromatherapy bath products. The view just took my breath away, with the Sabi Sand bush stretching as far as the eye could see, with the pool sparkling and inviting. We headed up to lunch on the deck where we were greeted by name by every staff member we saw, which made us feel so welcome. Sitting down we could see a large herd of elephant roaming the plains below us and another at a distant waterhole. Lunch was a...

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Our Team Travels: A visit to Ant’s Hill, Waterberg – Jako Nagel
Apr23

Our Team Travels: A visit to Ant’s Hill, Waterberg – Jako Nagel

Jako enjoyed a visit to Ant’s Hill One of our Safari experts, Jako Nagel, visited the malaria free Waterberg Game Reserve north of Johannesburg in South Africa. He stayed at the lovely Ant’s Hill next to the sister property of Ant’s Nest where he had the time to enjoy a wonderful horse back safari and more! Here is what he had to say about Ant’s Hill. When I decided to visit the Waterberg region opting for a stay at Ant’s Hill came naturally.  I knew that they offered beautiful appointed suites (or rather bush homes), had quite a reputation when it comes to their cuisine and that they offered amazing experiences through the African bush on horseback.  What I did not know that this would be an experience that I would single out as one of the best I have experienced in my career as a Safari consultant.   See, Ant’s Hill is not about silver cutlery and award winning wines of the world, it is not about Egyptian cotton and Michelin stars – but rather to reconnect with Mother Nature, to be humbled by her beauty and to stand in awe of her greatness.   The bush houses are stylishly fitted out with everything you need from a mini bar, fireplace and inside and outside shower, oversized bath tubs coffee and tea making facilities, veranda and colourful gowns.  I loved the idea that the houses were built in quite a distance from each other – it really felt like I was the only one there making this the perfect destination for families with young children, honeymoon couples and even solo travellers. The food at Ant’s Hill was a reflection of this amazing lodge.  Food was cooked with passion and I could taste it with every bite!  Breakfast and Dinner consist of a healthy spread of dishes to choose from and lunch include heavenly desserts.  Al Fresco dining is offered if the weather plays along and the sprawling views of the Waterberg paired with tasty, honest food simply pairs beautifully.  Dinner is a little more formal but exquisite – this is Friday the chef’s turn to show off with a great 3 course meal and opting for seconds just makes his day!   The activities at Ant’s Hill is off the beaten track and exciting. Except for the usual game drives and bush walks they offer horseback safaris, bush lunches, sundowners with rhinos and for the more adventurous – swimming with horses in the African bush.  I have to be completely honest when I say that I have only been on a horse once before coming to Ant’s Hill and although I was...

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Our Team Travels: Clifftop Exclusive Safari Hideaway in the Welgevonden Review – By Jako Nagel
Apr02

Our Team Travels: Clifftop Exclusive Safari Hideaway in the Welgevonden Review – By Jako Nagel

One of our team, Jako, recently went to visit the malaria free Welgevonden Private Game Reserve, in Limpopo, north of Johannesburg in South Africa. He returned raving about Clifftop Exclusive Safari Hideaway, saying it was in his top 5! Here is Jako’s Clifftop Exclusive Safari Hideaway in the Waterberg Review As I approached the Waterberg… I had to pinch myself… this majestic mountain range in the Northern part of South Africa laid stretched out in front of me like an oversized, gigantic boulder, afternoon sunrays lightened this rock formation up like a spotlight one would find on stage and if you listened carefully you could hear the rumble of a thunderstorm approaching. I immediately knew Mother Nature is showing off… again.  I was mesmerised by this area’s unspoilt beauty. As I approached the Welgevonden Private Game Reserve I thought I heard a rumble in the distance… typical of a bushveld thunderstorm, as fast as you thought it’s coming for you it disappeared like it was never even there. The drive to the malaria free Welgevonden Private Game Reserve is an easy 3 hours drive from Johannesburg and once you arrive at this magnificent reserve’s gates – it is all forgotten anyway.  We were met by Clifftop Exclusive Safari Hideaway’s very friendly assistant manager Orbet in our open 4 x4 safari vehicle. After a quick 15 minute drive along the rocky gravel road I quickly understood why they recommend you leave your shiny sedan at the gates. Nothing really prepares you of what you are about to experience when you enter Clifftop Exclusive Safari Hideaway reception area.  I knew there was reason why it was called Clifftop (I imagined it was perched up on a little hill, with a bit of a view) but as I approached their cosy lounge area and as I caught a glimpse of what was waiting down below, I literally had to catch another breath… and suddenly the word breath taking had new meaning. With the river valley below and hanging rugged cliffs… I immediately knew how this lodge earned its name.  Lunch was informal but scrumptious… succulent pork chops with a fresh garden salad all washed down with G&T or two. Just when I thought life could not get better we were escorted to our room… or rather allow me rephrase… our own African palace… with more square meters that I could count it was fitted out for royalty (no wonder I spotted some well known names in their guestbook) – crisp white linen, an enormous bath, inside and outside shower, fantastic guest amenities, a plunge pool, a thatched gazebo and then again that incredible view, that took my breath...

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Our Team Travels: My Kruger Safari – Michelle Astbury
Dec23

Our Team Travels: My Kruger Safari – Michelle Astbury

My Kruger Safari – A Mega Educational to Timbavati and Klaserie Michelle is our Product and Reservations Manager, she just returned from the Kruger on an educational which took 30 tour operators on a whirlwind tour of the Klaserie and Timabavti reserves in Kruger   I joined a group of tour operators on a visit to the Klaserie Private Nature Reserve and the Timbavati Private Game Reserve. The aim: visit and experience numerous lodges, spot the magnificent game on offer and soak up the atmosphere while staying in some of the most beautiful places in the world. We set off on a Friday morning from Cape Town on the very convenient direct flight to Hoedspruit, the gateway to the reserves in the mid and northern section of the Greater Kruger Area. Once our luggage arrived – on the tarmac of the parking lot – we were divided up into the groups we would explore the Kruger with. There were 8 lodges partaking in this wonderful trip, and they were all on hand to whisk their group off on their adventure. I set off with 2 groups to the Klaserie to visit nDzuti Safari Lodge and stay at nThambo Tree Camp and Africa on Foot. Even the rain soaking us on the drive couldn’t dampen our excitement. First stop was a quick view of nDzuti Safari Lodge. This lovely lodge only has 4 rooms, which keeps it intimate. The beautiful deck and lawns overlook a waterhole and the bush. Back on the safari vehicle, we headed, still in the rain, to Africa on Foot and nThambo. We saw the first of the first big 5 – the Rhino – on the drive. I was deposited with my group at nThambo Tree Camp, where I was to spend the night. After checking in, we went off to our rooms for a change of clothes before lunch and our evening game drive. nThambo has 5 safari tents on raised decks. These rooms have wonderful views of the bush, while the main lodge has a plunge pool and a lovely lounge.   We headed off with our guide Matt, and tracker Isaac on our evening game drive, thankfully the rain had stopped. We saw a wonderful herd of elephant, many birds, and another rhino and then joined up with the group from Africa on Foot for sundowners. We headed back to nThambo for dinner, yummy lamb braai (BBQ) where the local hippo made an appearance, as did a roaming hyena! An early morning game drive took us to a sight that was on my bucket list – a pack of wild dogs!! We visited...

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Our Team Travels: Natasha’s Botswana Safari review
May26

Our Team Travels: Natasha’s Botswana Safari review

Our Team Travels: Natasha’s Botswana Safari review. A visit to  Camp Kuzuma, Machaba Camp and Haina Kalahari Lodge. Natasha Allan, a consultant from Sun Safaris, enjoyed an educational stay in Botswana. We always make sure our consultants visit the properties they sell to their guests. Currently, we offer a 7 and 8 night package to Botswana which includes Camp Kuzuma, Machaba Camp and Haina Kalahari Lodge. Natasha experienced all that this package has to offer and visited a selection of alternate camps we use on a regular basis. If you’re interested in a Botswana safari, please contact us for a quote.  Below is Natasha’s account of her safari. DAY 1 Woke up super early to catch my flight from Cape Town to Johannesburg to connect with the flight to Kasane. We were met at the airport and road transferred to Camp Kuzuma in the Kazuma Forest Reserve (Chobe region) (approximately 1 hours drive). The highlight was watching elephants come to drink from the waterhole right in front of camp.       DAY 2 After our morning game drive and yummy breakfast, we were road transferred to Kasane Airport to connect with a light air charter to Machaba Camp. Machaba Camp is located along the Khwai River on the edge of the Moremi Game Reserve. It is a stunning tented camp with a fresh look and offers a wonderful bush experience. There were a few highlights for me, but the one that stands out was before leaving for a morning game drive, we saw a leopard and a pack of wild dog walking along the Khwai River. And not to forget all the awesome hippos wallowing in the water.           DAY 3 We were road transferred to the airstrip to connect with our light air charter to Haina Kalahari Lodge. Haina Kalahari lodge is situated in the heart of the Central Kalahari, bordering the Central Kalahari Game Reserve. It is a beautiful tented camp. The highlight was going on a Bushman walking experience. We learnt how they used to live authentically off the land.     DAY 4 After our morning game drive, we were road transferred back to the airstrip to connect with our light air charter to Maun Airport where I had connect for my onward light aircraft charter from Maun Airport to Kwetsani Camp in the Okavango Delta. From the airstrip I was road transferred to the Okavango Delta.  From here I was transferred by boat for a site inspection to Jao Camp; situated on Jao Island. After the site inspection we travelled by boat to Kwetsani, which is one of the...

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Our Team Travels: My Madikwe Safari – by Anne-Marie Mulder
Apr08

Our Team Travels: My Madikwe Safari – by Anne-Marie Mulder

Madikwe Game Reserve Review My husband and I have recently enjoyed a four night stay at the Madikwe Game Reserve in South Africa and I am pleased to say there are only great things to report. On arrival at OR TAMBO, we made our way to the Budget Car Rental desk to pick up our car. This was the first time I had picked up a car at Johannesburg airport and I found it to be hassle-free and easy! As a suggestion, I would allocate an hour to the landing, luggage collection, car-pickup and exit onto the highway.  The road journey from the airport to the Madikwe Game Reserve is on a national highway, which is very safe and in excellent condition; however, there are a few tolls along the way, so be sure to have around ZAR 400.00 cash for the return trip. Our first destination was Motswiri Private Safari Lodge. I did not inform the lodge that I was six months pregnant because I didn’t want any fuss made. As soon as I was greeted by Adri, the lodge manager, my ‘state’ drew attention and the fussing began. She made me feel very special about being pregnant and when lunch time came, I had my own egg-free potato salad and delicious phyllo pastry vegetable pies waiting. Our ranger, Zede, requested that I sit in front with him for my comfort.  He had even placed some pillows on and around the seat, ensuring the game drive was divinely comfortable, to say the least! A pride of lion had made a zebra killing that morning, and our aim was to get there and see it.  When we got to the sighting the zebra carcass was almost bare after having 9 lion cubs and 2 big mama lions feasting on it all day.       After a delicious dinner of kudu shank, traditional pap and sauce among other things, it was time to retire to our very large and well-appointed room. I did not go on the morning game drive as I preferred to take in more of this lovely lodge before heading on to our next stop: Jamala Madikwe. As soon as we pulled up to the entrance, we were delighted at the site of around 15 elephants at the watering hole just in front of the lodge. Rodney and Nico – the owner managers of the lodge – informed us that there had been 40 elephants onsite earlier that morning. The Jamala suites are set out in such a way that each suite has a view of the watering hole and the animals that visit it throughout...

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