When I first visited Tilney Manor at Sanbona Game Reserve a few years ago I decided that Gondwana Family Lodge was the place where I would like to take my 2 young daughters for their first safari experience.
A few weeks ago that dream was realised and, now aged 5, they were ready to experience their first African safari. Situated just past Montagu, a three-hour drive from Cape Town along Route 62, Sanbona offers an authentic safari experience in a malaria-free area - making it safe for the whole family.
As one of South Africa’s largest privately-owned reserves, Sanbona stretches across 58 000 hectares of the Klein Karoo and is a sanctuary for indigenous flora and fauna, including the Big 5.
Amid the vastness of the landscape with it’s unending plains Sanbona offers guests a choice of four different lodges and camps. Dwyka Tented Lodge, Tilney Manor, Explorer Camp and Gondwana Family Lodge.
Sanbona Wildlife Reserve has introduced a Family Getaway Experience at Gondwana Family Lodge for the upcoming school holidays and until 20 December 2019. Situated close to Montagu in the heart of the Little Karoo, a three-hour scenic drive from Cape Town along Route 62, Gondwana Family Lodge offers an authentic safari experience for the whole family in a malaria-free area.
On arrival at the lodge my girls were given Welcome Packs - their own Sanbona backpacks with caps, and an activity book filled with interactive activities teaching them about the wildlife at Sanbona.
As soon as we showed them the kids lounge, which has a great indoor and outdoor play area with arts and crafts, puzzles, board games and movies, they were as happy as could be and we didn’t see them for hours.
Parents can completely relax as all of the staff are extremely welcoming and accommodating with kids. A few times during our stay I found my 5-year old twins being entertained by various members of the team after they had wandered into their workspace.
Our luxurious suite had inter-leading room, each with their own balcony offering spectacular views of the veld. The main dining and lounge area leads out onto a covered patio with a child-friendly swimming pool.
The skull garden is an interpretive trail that takes children through the gardens to learn about plants and animals on the reserve. My kids loved wandering through it, identifying the skulls of animals that they had seen on the game drive.
After lunch, we were ready for our first family safari. My kids were thriled as they got to see giraffe, various buck, oryx, hippo, rhinos, baboons and birds. On my previous visit, I had viewed the famous white lions of Sanbona, however, this time around we were not so fortunate and the elusive cats kept to themselves.
My kids loved the experience, however, I do think that the 3 hour game drive is too long for young kids, and my advice to anyone taking young children is to request that their guide would be flexible regarding the time length of the game drive. Requesting a guide who is tolerant of children is also something that I would suggest to anyone going with younger children.
Children under four years are not accommodated on the game drives, but parents do not need to worry as the Family Getaway Experience includes a complimentary childminder to look after them during game drive hours.
There are guided wilderness walks on offer for adults and children older than 16 years to explore the reserve on foot. Not all guides are qualified to do walking tours, so if you are keen to experience this then I suggest you request a guide who is qualified.
All meals are included, offering wholesome farm-style cuisine and child-friendly options. The kitchen staff were extremely accommodating and made snacks for my kids between mealtimes.
On Friday night we were treated to a traditional South African braai in the boma and enjoyed dishes such as Bobotie, venison, beef ribs, lamb chops, and an array of side dishes and salads.
The Family Getaway Experience package includes:
2 Daily game drives
Guided wilderness walks
Game drive beverages
Kids on Safari programme
Complimentary child minding in our kiddies play area during game drive hours
Snack platter in the rooms on arrival
Story telling inspired by African folk tales around the fire with marshmallows
Exciting evening scorpion hunt
VAT and tourism levy
The Family Getaway Experience provides the perfect opportunity for family’s to disconnect from a busy city lifestyle. It is open to families with children of all ages and includes the Sanbona Kids on Safari programme.
The rate for the The Family Getaway Experience ranges R5 917.50 per adult sharing per night (includes a 10% winter special discount). 50% discount for children between the ages of 4 and 11, with no charge for children aged 3 and younger. A minimum stay of 3 nights applies. Valid until 20 December 2019. Includes all meals, non-alcoholic beverages, and twice daily game drives with beverages. (Rates quoted are valid for low season up to 31 August 2019). T’c & C’s apply.