South Africa Family Safari
South Africa offers the perfect safari adventure for you and your family. Combine the non-malarial, wildlife-rich Madikwe Game Reserve with cosmopolitan Cape Town for the perfect balance between bush and beach.
Prices: On request
Duration: 10 nights
Destinations: Madikwe Game Reserve, Cape Town and the Western Cape
i) Big 5 game viewing in Madikwe Game Reserve
ii) Enjoy exclusivity at Morukuru Owners House
iii) Non-malarial destinations throughout the itinerary
iv) Visit the endangered African Penguins at Boulders Beach on the Western Cape.
v) Feel like you are on top of the world on a visit to Table Mountain
vi) Relax on beautiful beaches in Cape Town and around False Bay
A superb introductory safari adventure for you and your family. Suitable for children of all ages, this safari combines the malaria-free destinations of the Madikwe Game Reserve with Cape Town and the Western Cape. Big 5 game viewing will excite and thrill both children and adults alike, whilst the exclusive feel of Madikwe provides that all important touch of authenticity. Head down to Cape Town to explore the natural beauty of this bustling city. Swim with African penguins, take an educational trip to Robben Island, overlook the city from the dizzy heights of Table Mountain or swim with great white sharks at Gaansbai.
Best time to visit?
So when is the best time of year to take this trip to maximise your overall experience? Without knowing you yet this is a difficult question to answer. With so many variables to consider we need to know what is important to you before we advise on the preferable time for you.
There are many variables to consider when attempting to recommend the best time to visit. Specific considerations include the whereabouts of migratory animals, the effect the density of the vegetation and height of the grass has on wildlife viewing, special wildlife moments such as the birth of baby animals, and the effect weather patterns has on wildlife behaviour. Other factors to consider are the variation in prices at different times of the year, visitor traffic, whether you prefer a lush or relatively arid environment and of course the annual climate, namely temperature and rainfall values.
For this reason we present detailed information for each individual destination in the locations section to help you understand what may work best for you. We will of course have an in-depth discussion with you prior to making a booking so you are completely happy with the time of year you decide to travel.
- Game drives
- Outdoor mini-adventures for junior guests
- Romantic starlit sleep-outs
- Bush breakfasts and lunches
- Mountaintop or riverside braais,
- Whale watching on the Western Cape’s whale coast (seasonal)
- African penguins at Boulders Beach
- Shark cage diving (seasonal)
- Visit Table Mountain
- Robben Island cultural visit
- Adrenaline outdoor activities
- Domestic flights as detailed in the daily itinerary.
- Airport transfers throughout South Africa.
- 10 night’s accommodation as stated in the daily itinerary
- All meals as stated in the daily itinerary
- All-inclusive safari activities at Madikwe Game Reserve.
- Included activities as above
- All relevant taxes and surcharges
- Return international flight to South Africa
- Airport transfers in home country
- Meals and drinks not stated in the daily itinerary
- Optional activities as above
- Applicable VISAS
- Tips and gratuities
- Health innoculations and medications
Your Ultimate Wildlife Adventure Begins
Board your overnight flight bound for Johannesburg.
Morukuru Owners House, Madikwe Game Reserve (L, D)
Arrive in Johannesburg and receive a warm welcome from one of our representatives who will assist with your transfer to Madikwe Game Reserve. The scenic flight will only take an hour, welcome news no doubt after your long international flight.
On arrival in Madikwe you will be greeted by a staff member from your lodge and transferred to your accommodation. The transfer will undoubtedly double up as a game drive and your first bush experience will be underway as you stop for interesting sightings along the way.
You will be welcomed into camp and receive a friendly briefing before having time to freshen up and grab a bite to eat before heading back into the bush for your first proper game activity.
Morukuru Owners House, Madikwe Game Reserve (B, L, D)
The pace softens over these next three days as your time is dedicated to safari activities and observing the many species of animal that call the Madikwe home. A big 5 reserve, lion, buffalo and elephant are almost guaranteed ticks on your checklist. Leopard, typically elusive as they are in most reserves, are showing signs of being more conspicuous and sightings are becoming more and more reliable. You may be one of the few percent of safari travellers who can return having seen African wild dog in their natural environment as sightings at Madikwe are arguably as reliable as anywhere in the world.
Madikwe’s location tucked up against the Kalahari Desert on the Botswana border attracts dry country wildlife such as gemsbok, greater kudu, caracal and the elusive brown hyena. Other common wildlife species you are likely to see whilst exploring the bush are giraffe, zebra, wildebeest, springbok, hartebeest, and tsessebe, to name only a few of the larger herbivores. Typically elusive wildlife that are rare sightings elsewhere but achievable at Madikwe are serval, eland, and sable.
The beauty of staying at Morukuru Owners House is that all safari activities are private and you have full autonomy to dictate the timings and the pace of the activities. This is a real bonus when travelling with children.
The Twelve Apostles Hotel, Cape Town (B)
Today you will depart Madikwe Game Reserve with a mind full of unforgettable memories, a memory card full of fantastic images, and no doubt with promises to return.
Enjoy a last game drive on your way to the airport before flying back to Johannesburg in preparation for your connecting flight to Cape Town. Arrive in Cape Town and receive warm greetings from one of our representatives who will help you with your car hire.
The drive into Cape Town is less than half an hour on a good run. The remainder of the day is at your leisure. Maybe you will relax by the pool or head over to the V&A Waterfront for dinner.
The Twelve Apostles Hotel, Cape Town (B)
These next 5 days are free days and deliberately left open for you to decide what you want to do. We will discuss the many options available prior to your trip so you can get the very most out of your stay in Cape Town and the surrounding area.
You may wish to experience more wildlife and if so Cape Town and the Western Cape is the perfect location for marine encounters. Shark cage diving, seasonal whale watching by land and sea, the unmissable African penguins and even snorkelling with cape fur seals is possible. Enjoy the natural beauty of the city by hiking or taking the cable car up Table Mountain.
Choose to take some relaxation days on the plethora of wonderful beaches on the Atlantic Seaboard and False Bay.
Finally no trip to Cape Town would be complete without a visit to Robben Island, the now disused prison that held Nelson Mandela captive for a proportion of his 27 years of incarceration.
The End Of Your Ultimate Wildlife Adventure (B)
All good things must come to an end and you can be sure you and your family will have made memories you will all discuss for a lifetime.
You will head to Cape Town International Airport in good time to catch your outbound flight to your final destination.
Morukuru Owners House
Madikwe Game Reserve, South Africa
Overview: Morukuru Owners House was built by the owners as their own private retreat in the Madikwe Game Reserve. Tucked under the leafy canopy of an ancient Morukuru tree, on the banks of the Marico River, lies this ultra luxurious home away from home. Guests can enjoy exclusive use of the house making it ideal for honeymooners, couples or a small family.
Accommodation: Guests can enjoy the exclusivity of the entire 2-king sized bedroom house. The house is fully air-conditioned and both rooms are en suite. Bathrooms have indoor and outdoor showers and there is also a beautiful outdoor bath immersed into the natural surroundings.
Facilities & Amenities: Guests can enjoy a wide range of luxuries. Services include a private butler, private chef and private safari guide. The house is equipped with a private swimming pool, large dining room, living room and an outdoor fireplace, as well as a wine cellar.
Power & communication: The property is powered by full mains electricity. Complementary WiFi is available throughout the property. Mobile phone network coverage is available.
Activities: Game drives (private vehicle / guide / tracker), bird-watching, fishing, fun outdoor mini-adventures for junior guests, romantic starlit sleep-outs in our hide, bush breakfasts and lunches, candle-lit dinners, memorable mountaintop or riverside braais,
Children: Kids of all ages are welcome at Morukuru Owners House. The property is extremely child friendly, even offering baby sitting services as required.
The Twelve Apostles Hotel & Spa
Cape Town, South Africa
Overview: Dramatically located above the Atlantic Ocean, flanked by the majestic Twelve Apostles and Table Mountain, the award-winning Twelve Apostles Hotel & Spa offers luxurious rooms and exquisite dining experiences. The beaches of beautiful Camps Bay are only a stone’s throw away as are the many attractions of Cape Town and the nearby Cape Peninsula.
Accommodation: 55 deluxe guest rooms and 15 luxurious suites all with uninterrupted views of the sea or mountains. All rooms are equipped as expected of a 5 star international standard hotel.
Facilities & Amenities: Spa. Award-winning restaurants. Selection of bars. Infinity pool, rock pool and jacuzzi. Indigenous gardens. Private 16 seat cinema and free in-room movies. Babysitting facilities.
Power & communication: The hotel is fully equipped with mains electricity. WiFi comes as standard and mobile phone network coverage is very reliable.
Activities: Enjoy activities in and around Cape Town. These activities are provided by 3rd party operators.
Children: Guests of all ages are welcome. Children under the ages of 12 are free of charge when sharing with two adults.
- Special Status: Game Reserve
- Location: Northern South Africa
- Land mass: 750 km²
- Mammal species: 66
- Bird species: 350
- Big 5 reserve: Yes
- Game drives
- Big 5 game reserve
- Non-malarial reserve ideal for families
- Excellent sightings of rare dry country wildlife
- Superb African wild dog destination
Madikwe Game Reserve is the fifth largest wildlife sanctuary in South Africa. The recent incorporation of privately owned land has seen its size increase from 680 km² to 750 km². It is located in the northern reaches of South Africa and straddles the Botswana border. It is indeed very close to the capital, Gaborone. The reserve sits on land previously used for farming. However, poor farming practices coupled with infertile soil meant farming in this area was always going to fail. Economically disadvantaged, the region required an idea which would provide a financial uplift to the area. It was decided a game reserve would be much more financially rewarding for the local population.
The land was prepared to enable indigenous flora to flourish, 10,000 indigenous large mammals were reintroduced to the area and the boundaries of the planned reserve were fenced off to prevent escape of wildlife. Madikwe Game Reserve was born. Today, although it is state owned it operates very much like a private reserve and is regarded as one of the best conservation areas in Africa.
Madikwe is a beautiful reserve with a varied topography of vast open savanna, woodlands, a perennial river, seasonal wetlands, rocky outcrops and Kalahari veld, dissected by the rugged Rant Van Tweedeport and bordered in the south by the Dwarsberg Mountains. These varied habitats support outstanding biodiversity. The reserve currently supports 66 mammals and over 350 bird species and is a reliable Big 5 destination.
Lions, elephants and buffalo are present in large volumes and are easy to spot whilst out on safari or indeed close to your camp or lodge. Both black and white rhinoceros are present with the former being more elusive than the latter. The leopard, although inherently elusive, is becoming more easily observable whilst out on game activities. The real claim to fame at Madikwe is the relative ease at which African wild dogs can be seen.
Other common wildlife species includes giraffe, zebra, wildebeest, greater kudu, springbok, hartebeest, tsessebe and gemsbok, to name only a few of the larger herbivores. Typically elusive wildlife that are rare sightings elsewhere but achievable at Madikwe are caracal, serval, the brown hyena, eland and sable.
We have for a long time questioned whether Madikwe fits with our promise of delivering a truly authentic safari. The 150 kilometres electric fence designed to prevent the escape of larger animals certainly is at odds with our policy of recommending large intact ecosystems. However, after lots of deliberation we do feel Madikwe is a place capable of offering a genuinely good safari, for the right guests.
It is a very quiet reserve and offers an exclusive experience at a fraction of the cost of premium private destinations such as those in the Greater Kruger ecosystem, the Sabi Sands Game Reserve for example. Tourist traffic is relatively low and they adopt a strict policy of no more than 3 vehicles at a sighting at any one time which prevents the crude crowding that can occur in some of the more commercial national parks. The conservation ethos of the reserve is also very much in line with our own beliefs.
Perhaps the biggest reason people are drawn to Madikwe is for the fact it is one of the few reserves on the African continent capable of offering good safari in a non-malarial area. This is particularly attractive to young families or pregnant ladies who wish to avoid the use of malaria prevention tablets.
In summary, Madikwe is the perfect destination for those wanting an excellent safari experience without the crowds but with luxurious accommodation. We find it is the perfect destination for families, honeymooners, first-time safari guests or those who enjoy the finer things in life. The more outdoorsy guest looking for an adventure in the remotest depths of Africa would be more suited to large, wilderness ecosystems elsewhere.
Best Time To Visit
The Madikwe Game Reserve is a year-round safari destination. However, seasons can be divided into the cool, dry winter and the hot, wet summer. Each season, and indeed the months within each season, offers you a different experience. There is no time of year that offers you the best of everything so we provide you with a balanced account throughout the year so you are able to make an informed decision on the best time to visit based on your preferences.
The dry season runs from the months of May to September. This season is characterised by low rainfall, clear skies, cold evenings and mornings, and extremely pleasant daytime temperatures. June to August are the coolest months with daytime highs of only 22-24 degrees Celsius and average lows of 3-4 degrees Celsius. It is advisable to bring warm clothing for morning game drives at this time of year.
The wet season runs from October to April and is characterised by rainfall, cloudy and often moody skies, pleasant evening and morning temperatures, and hot daytime temperatures. The wettest months are December to February with an average rainfall of 85 mm over each month which is actually relatively low. Rain usually falls as short, sharp showers and passes to leave clear blue skies, therefore rarely affecting safari activities. Rainfall tailors off into March and April to very low average levels of 25 mm per month. Temperatures are much higher at this time of year with average daytime lows of 16-18 degrees Celsius and highs of 30-32 degrees Celsius. Morning game drives are extremely pleasant but activities later in the heat of the sun may be perceived as uncomfortable by some.
Wildlife viewing is deemed best in the dry season when water sources become limited and animals congregate around predictable permanent waterholes and rivers. Vegetation has also thinned out at this time of year and grass is low ensuring animals are more visible. The wet season does however have its own advantages. Baby animals are often born during these months and migratory birds arrive from afar to the delight of birders.
Due to the reserve being fenced there are no migratory terrestrial animal movements. All terrestrial wildlife are therefore year-round residents ensuring good game viewing throughout.
Madikwe is well run and tourist traffic never appears too much of an issue. However, the summer season is deemed high season and the park does become more crowded, especially during school holidays. Prices however don’t reflect this and are consistently higher through the months of July through September, peaking around Christmas and the New Year celebrations. Prices are hit and miss throughout the rest of the year so please speak to us about getting you the best deal.
- Location: South-west South Africa
- Land mass: Cape Town 400 km²/ Western Cape 129,449 km²
- Points of interest:
- Cape Town
- Table Mountain National Park
- Cape Winelands
- Whale Coast
- Cape Point
- Robben Island
- Boulders Beach
- Shark diving
- Whale watching
- Dolphin watching
- Swimming with endangered penguins
- Cultural tours
- Wine farm tours
- Outdoor adventure activities
- Exhilarating interactions with Great White Sharks
- Whale and dolphin watching by boat and on land
- Share your beach space and swim with the endangered African penguin
- Hike up or take the cable car to the top of Table Mountain for unrivalled views of The Mother City.
- Spend time in the Cape Winelands and experience the best wine the Cape has to offer.
Cape Town, what can we say about Cape Town except it is quite truly spectacular. The inclusion of a city in our itineraries may at first appear at odds with our promise of offering the best wildlife experiences on the planet. However, under further scrutiny Cape Town and its surrounding areas in the Western Cape offer so much more than the typical city break.
Unique wildlife interactions, spectacular beaches, unbelievable hiking trails, fascinating cultural history and world-class wine tasting, Cape Town offers clients the perfect complement to their authentic African safari, either within South Africa or neighbouring countries.
Nestled in the south-western part of Africa, Cape Town is a bustling city with a population greater than 4.5 million people, larger than the sprawling U.S city of Los Angeles. However, its comparison with Los Angeles and other large cities ends there. Its geographical location with the mighty Table Mountain as its centrepiece provides the most beautiful of settings. Cape Town has one of the highest levels of biodiversity of any equivalent area in the world. There are an estimated 2200 species of plants confined to Table Mountain alone with many being endemic to the mountain and being found nowhere else on earth. To gain perspective, the United Kingdom only has 1200 species of plants throughout the entire country. Such is Cape Town’s biodiversity it reached first place in two of the three categories in the 2019 iNaturalist City Nature Challenge. This floral biodiversity naturally encourages a diverse fauna to the area.
Cape Town and its surrounding areas along the Western Cape are exceptional destinations for wildlife lovers. Indeed, this part of the world is recognised as offering wildlife interactions with the so called marine Big 5. This term was coined in South Africa and includes the whale, shark, dolphin, seal and penguin. Access to all these marine species are within driving distance of Cape Town.
South Africa, specifically Gaansbai and False Bay in the Western Cape, is the location of some of the best shark interactions in the world. Divers are submerged in a metal cage into the shark’s natural environment and have the opportunity to observe and photograph these misunderstood predators at extremely close quarters. It is an extremely exhilarating experience.
The African penguin, formely known as the jackass penguin, is listed as endangered by the IUCN as their numbers continue to dramatically decline. With only about 55,000 individuals remaining in the wild, down from 200,000 in 2000 and 4 million at the turn of the 19th century their existence as a species is critical. Despite this they are astonishingly easy to interact with down at Boulders Beach in Simon’s Town on the Cape Peninsula. The penguins happily allow visitors to get within a metre of them on land and fun can be had swimming alongside them in the sea.
Cape Fur Seals are also easily observed frolicking in the waters off of the coast. They are a spectacle at the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town but can quite easily be observed from the shoreline at most places. For those interested in seeing a huge abundance of seals a visit to Seal Island and the huge colony of 64,000 cape fur seals is highly recommended.
The Cape Whale Coast, just outside Cape Town and occupying the coastline of the Western Cape, is an extraordinary stretch of land that in whale season comes to life with these huge marine mammals dominating the ocean and nature lovers dotting the coastline. The towns of Kleinmond, Hermanus, Stanford and Gansbaai are the main towns people flock to witness this migration of humpback whales, southern right whales and bryde’s whale. Outdoorsy guests may elect to embark on the whale trail which is a 55 km walking trail traversing the De Hoop Nature Reserve with 5 night’s stay in unique accommodation positioned along the trail.
Of course a visit to the Western Cape isn’t all about wildlife viewing as there are plenty of opportunities for adrenaline activities, relaxing on pristine beaches, sampling the best wine the region has to offer and taking time to understand the culture and history of the area.
Cape Town itself has some spectacular beaches including Camps Bay, Clifton beaches 1-4, Llandudno, and Oudekraal to offer only a few suggestions. However, the sea is notoriously cold here so for those who like to enjoy a dip in the ocean head down the Cape Peninsula to False Bay where sea temperatures can be up to 10 degrees higher. Notably, Muizenberg, Fish Hoek, and the beaches at Simon’s Town are good options.
Foodies and wine lovers should not miss the opportunity to explore the Cape Winelands, notably Stellenbosch, Franschoek, Paarl and Somerset West. With 2000 wineries to explore this is a perfect destination to slow the pace after a busy safari schedule.
Visit the prison on Robben Island where Nelson Mandela spent the majority of his 27 years imprisoned or visit the District 6 Museum to gain a better understanding of the apartheid era. Those seeking more adventure can enjoy hiking on Table Mountain or within Table Mountain National Park, take a helicopter tour from the V&A Waterfront or paraglide from the lion’s head overlooking Camps Bay.
Best Time To Visit
The best time to visit Cape Town & the Western Cape is extremely dependent on the reasons for your visit. It is true it is a year-round destination offering the visitor a spectacular experience at all times of the year. However, if you intend on visiting for a particular reason then it is important to gain an understanding of the best time for that particular activity or experience.
As South Africa is in the Southern Hemisphere its seasons oppose those of the Northern Hemisphere regions of Europe and North America. When we are fighting off the cold in deep winter Cape Town is basking in summer sunshine. Likewise our warmer summer months correspond with the time of year Capetonians wrap up for their relative cold snap.
Summer in Cape Town is from December to March. This time of year is characterised by high temperatures and long, dry days. Average highs are 27-29 degrees Celsius with average lows being a balmy 17 degrees Celsius. Rainfall is minimal with precipitation only occurring 2-3 days per month on average. The driest months are January and February with only 22 mm of rain in an entire month, with March and December being only negligibly wetter. There is no surprise that this is the time of year that works best for those looking for excellent beach weather. The summer climate is perfect for beach goers looking to relax after a busy safari schedule.
April and May are somewhat of a shoulder season or transitional months between summer and winter. Temperatures, although extremely pleasant, drop to highs of 25 degrees Celsius and lows of 15 degrees Celsius in April and 22 degrees Celsius and 13 degrees Celsius respectively in May. There is also a sharp increase in rainfall to 66 mm over 6 days in April and 113 mm over 9 days in May.
Winter sets in from June and lasts through August and into September. This season is characterised by cool and relatively wet days with 10 days of rain per month. Average temperatures rarely exceed 20 degrees Celsius and drop to an average low of 12 degrees Celsius. June is the wettest month with an average rainfall of 145 mm, with 133 mm falling over the course of July and 107 mm in August.
September marks the start of the temperature recovery and reduction in precipitation. Temperatures return to average highs of 25 degrees Celsius and 15 degrees Celsius in October and November. Rainfall averages only 48 mm in October and 28 mm in November.
Whale watching is best between the months of June to November with July and August being the calving season. As whale viewing is dependent on migratory behaviour the exact timings at either end of the season can’t be guaranteed. One certainty we can promise is if you visit the Western Cape between the months of December and May inclusive then your chances of observing whales in their natural environment will be pretty slim to non-existent.
Cape fur seals and the endangered African penguins are easily accessible all year and there is no particular time of year that is preferable to another.