Being a city slicker, de-stressing is equally as important as getting up and going to work in the morning. And when you have kids, it becomes even more important to take the family out of the city and break free from everyday routine.
Kids love animals. Being South Africans, we’re blessed with an abundance of wildlife that comes in all shapes and sizes. So we recently visited Sanbona Wildlife Reserve for a family holiday to get up close with the Big 5.
The Reserve is not only home to the amazing Gondwana Lodge, but also one of the largest privately-owned wildlife reserves in South Africa and was the first authentic free roaming wildlife reserves with the Big 5 in the Western Cape. Besides these magnificent beasts, you can get acquainted with other indigenous animals such as giraffes, zebras and a variety of wildebeest to name a few. Plus, there are over 650 indigenous plant specimens for you to spot at the reserve. The staff are highly trained and knowledgeable – making your experience on the wild side that much smoother and a whole lot friendlier with smiley faces. Everyone, from the lodge Manager to the tour guides, were super helpful and hit it off with our kids right away.
Our journey began with a mini bus ride from the Welcome Lounge to Gondwana Lodge where we stayed for the weekend. On the way, my kids got their first look at wild animals as we observed a zeal of zebras crossing the road. We were welcomed with a three-course lunch while our luggage was taken to our rooms.
We did a quick tour of the accommodation then headed out the door again for an afternoon of driving through the reserve. Our guide, Pascale, shared with us her pearls of wisdom by saying, ‘You can go out on a game drive 100 times and have 100 experiences’. We were excited to have our unique experience as we set out to the specially-made safari Hilux, and after just 20 minutes the guides Pascale and Chris spotted two cheetahs sleeping off their late afternoon lunch under a tree. Chris offers to take those who dare to brave it right up to the spotty cats on foot with his gun in hand. Pascale took time out to teach us the tracking tricks like spotting the difference between the animals by their dung. Later, the little ones excitedly collected some dung on their own and matched it up with the right animals.
A sweet treat, especially for my kids, was sipping on cups of hot chocolate and nibbling on biltong while we got to watch the sights of nature around us. We had the wonderful and funny opportunity of witnessing a rumble between a couple of giraffes head-butting their way to respect. We also observed a herd of elephants – an awe-inspiring sight to behold. Another event we were lucky enough to witness was the close alignment of Saturn and Venus – certainly a once in a lifetime opportunity, as this is the closest that these two planets have ever been to each other in decades. Pascale whipped out an awesome telescope for a brief lesson on the planets, pointing them out to us as we stood in amazement.
After star-gazing, we headed back to the lodge for some much-needed warmth in the form of Amarula – only for the adults, of course! We then made our way to the dining room for an all-you-can-eat buffet spread. Rolling out the dining room, stuffed and sleepy, we headed to our suite for a peaceful night sleep.
Exciting and educational game drives, top-quality meals and unendingly attentive staff, one thing that can be said for certain, is that at Sanbona Wildlife Reserve you will fall asleep each night feeling fulfilled and content – a true African experience.