The Amalinda Safari Collection consists of four luxury and intimate safari camps and lodges set in the remote wilderness areas of Hwange National Park and the Matopos National Park. https://www.amalindacollection.com/
The award-winning Six Senses Zighy Bay beach resort in Oman is not just remote, it's like nowhere you've seen before, cradled by craggy mountains nestled in the opal blue waters of the Musandam's fjords. This luxury all villa resort offers the finest Six Senses experience incorporating sustainable ethics and practices. https://www.sixsenses.com/en/resorts/zighy-bay
Wilderness Safari’s Sustainability and Community Projects
From the outset of the company’s humble safari operation in 1983, Wilderness Safaris has always sought to protect and conserve Africa’s wilderness and wildlife. They have done this by creating life-changing journeys that inspire positive action. In everything they do, they strive to ensure protecting the environment.
Wilderness Safari's have 40 camps across 7 countries - Botswana, Kenya, Namibia, Rwanda, Zambia, Zimbabwe and they all operate a strong conservation and community purpose.
Environment is at the heart of everything Wilderness Safari's do. They create life-changing journeys for their guests and doing so have been able to protect more than 2.3 million hectares across seven biomes harbouring 33 IUCN Red List species.
The below info graphic shows a few examples of the impact their presence has had in Rwanda through the creation of Bisate Lodge. This visionary ecotourism lodge benefits not only the land and wildlife, but also the community. To date the lodge has planted over 30 000 indigenous trees in their reforestation programme – a project that involves each and every Bisate guest. - More about Bisate http://www.uniquefamilytravels.com/2019/07/12/bisate-lodge/
All of their 40 camps across 7 countries (Botswana, Kenya, Namibia, Rwanda, Zambia, Zimbabwe) operate a strong conservation and community purpose.
War on Plastic
In 2012 they committed to reducing the use of bottled water by rolling out reusable water bottles across all areas of our operation. Their reusable bottles, used by guests in their camps, are filled with water that has been filtered through a reverse osmosis filtration system. As a result they have seen a significant reduction in bottled water used throughout Wilderness Safaris camps. The introduction of Wilderness Safaris reusable bottles has greatly reduced their reliance on bottled water – the result has been a 77% reduction in bottled water usage from 2012 to 2017
War on Plastics campaign is an ongoing initiative to reduce and eliminate the use of plastics wherever possible. They are especially proud of their reduction in cling wrap usage – a reduction of 3 000 km of plastic that is now replaced by buzzy wraps, made with bees wax. These material covers are hygienic and keep food fresh. Many of buzzy wraps are made by local villagers in the communities which they support – a full-circle community and waste-prevention project.
Packaging is also carefully considered and their suppliers are all encouraged to replace plastic with cardboard and paper. Other examples include metal straws that have replaced plastic straws. We also use glass containers for storage, when refilling items like ground coffee, butter and jam. Nothing is overlooked in order to reduce plastic!
Powered by Nature
All their camps are 100% solar-run helping to reduce dependence on fossil fuels. All camps are situated in remote areas where they are required to produce their own electricity. Historically, generators accounted for 50% of their carbon emissions. With this in mind, Wilderness made a commitment to reduce their carbon footprint –reducing the volume of diesel and other fossil fuels consumed. Today 17 of 45 Wilderness Safaris camps are 100% solar.
The remainder camps all use a variety of hybrid solar and other power systems to mitigate fossil fuel usage. As a result they save nearly 2 500 tons of carbon a year – carbon that would otherwise have been burnt and contributed to global warming.
In addition to this, the camps have 845 solar geysers providing hot water to guests and staff, greatly reducing our power demand.
Building with a Light Footprint
In order to host guests, and thus ensure the sustainable protection of the wilderness areas that they operate in, they have built a selection of safari camps in these concessions across southern, and more recently, East Africa. It is of paramount importance the camps have as little impact on the environment as possible, not only during the building process, but also on their day-to-day operations.
“Our ideal result is a camp that blends into the natural features of the site and becomes one with its surroundings as time goes on. Our goal is that if at some stage we have to move the camp, we can restore the site to its original natural state, leaving no sign of our presence.”
See below info graph to find out more.
Water conservation is one of Wilderness biggest focus areas, even in areas which appear to have an abundance of water. It is therefore essential that all camps have a set standard of requirements that are adhered to. Examples of this are:
1.) Water efficient shower heads, taps and toilets
2.) Rain harvesting where practicable or viable
3.) The use of appropriate eco-detergents which are made using natural ingredients that do not pollute water sources or the environment
4.) Water meters to take daily recordings, reported to a central database monthly
5.) Water reticulation maps – to ensure that faults and leaks can be traced quickly
6.) Low pressure systems set up in areas that are not connected to municipal water
7.) The recirculation and use of ‘waste’ water from reverse osmosis filters
8.) Biannual water tests in all lab certified camps
Waste water management requires careful management. Many camps are located in areas with high water tables or alongside rivers, 30% use above-ground sewage treatment plants (STPs). These systems ensure there is no contamination of ground or surface water.
Children in the Wilderness (CITW) is a life-changing non-profit organisation that aims to facilitate sustainable conservation through leadership development and education of children in Africa. The impact that this programme has had, and continues to have, is truly inspiring.
Children in the Wilderness is a life skills educational programme that focuses on the next generation of decision-makers; inspiring them to care for their natural heritage and to become custodians of these areas in the future
Adult Empowerment Projects
While Children in the Wilderness creates incredible opportunities for young learners, it also goes well beyond this by empowering adults through skills and business training. Sue Goatley, Community Development Liaison for CITW Zambezi, realised that school fees in the areas supported by CITW in Zimbabwe were often not being paid, and as a result many children had to drop out. Seeing this happen, Sue and her team set out to create community businesses. These are now thriving income-generating projects, and have enabled adults to pay for school fees to provide education for their children who might not otherwise have had the opportunity.
Some of the inspiring projects include basket-weaving, run by a womens group at Tsholotsho: they use plastic bags, chip packets and other litter to create these colourful creations.
The Nganyana men’s income-generating group makes bricks and beads from recycled glass that is sourced from our Wilderness Safaris camps in Hwange National Park. The group utilises everything from wine, beer and spirit bottles to mayonnaise jars and tomato sauce bottles. The glass is then crushed into fine powder and used as a substitute for river sand. Their business is booming and is supported by local community members who buy the bricks and use them for construction within homesteads.
Unique Family Travels supports many sustainable resorts and projects around the globe and we have noticed our clients do too!
Click link to see all of Wilderness Safari camps https://wilderness-safaris.com/
To enquire about any of the camps and receive our special rates please contact Dani firstname.lastname@example.org
Giraffe Manor is set in 12 acres of private land within 140 acres of indigenous forest in Nairobi. Its resident herd of Rothschild’s giraffes visit daily, poking their long necks into the windows in the hope of a treat. https://www.thesafaricollection.com/
In the heart of the Okavango, luxurious Jao is set amongst islands fringed with riverine forests and vast, floodplains with prolific wildlife. The camp (comprises a main area elevated into the tree canopy two exclusive villas and five twins all with private plunge pools. https://wilderness-safaris.com/our-camps/camps/jao-camp
Located off the northern tip of Chief’s Island, the largest landmass in the Okavango Delta is arguably the best big game viewing in Africa, also known as the Place of Plenty.
We have just had the most amazing bucket list family experience on safari in the Welgevonden Game Reserve - a 37,000-hectare of diverse landscapes, geology and a plethora of South Africa’s most stunning wildlife as well as the Waterburg mountain range, which is estimated to be about half the age of the earth at 1.8-2.2 billion years old!
Welgevonden is a malaria free game reserve and literally only 3 hours drive from Johannesburg.
I really believe that everybody should experience a safari holiday, its such a breathetaking and humberling experience and one that will stay locked in your heart forever.
On a safari holiday, many things need to come together to make it truly memorable. Our experience at the Welgevonden Game Reserve and at Camp Ndlovu had everything and more, it truly was a holiday to remember.
The first step to booking a safari holiday is deciding where you want to go. There are so many wonderful game reserves and camps which can be a really daunting task to chose which one to visit. We new that we could combine seeing friends in Johannesburg with a safari break and Welgevonden reserve was not only close by but has received such incredible reviews.
As we pulled up to the main security gates at Welgevonden everyone in the car was beyond excited. I’ve only ever flown into a safari by landing on a sandy airstrip amongst the bush, so this was an entirely new experience for me.
We were greeted by Melvin our ranger from Camp Ndlovu. There are 70 different camps within Welgevonden, which I found amazing especially as during our stay we only ever saw a handful of ranger cars - that’s how large the space is.
Our suitcases were put in one car as we were escorted to an area for welcome drinks and an introduction about life in the bush!
We had an hours drive to the lodge through the bush – it was kind of like our first game drive. There were three rows of seats in the back of the customized safari jeep, each row being slightly elevated which was so cool for the kids - they could all sit next to each, with an adult for extra safety. Initially when the kids spotted an animal they would shout with excitement but 5 minutes in and they realized they had to whisper, no shouting, use their binoculars and listen to Melvin.
On the drive we saw elephants, zebra, pumba AKA water hogs, rhinos, giraffes, springbok and kudu - it all felt so surreal. The reserves terrain blew me away, we would drive through valleys, up and down mountains, rocky and sandy roads and then drive onto wide-open plains were the views were incredible.
As we entered our lodge - Camp Ndlovu we could hear the beating of the drum. Pulling up to the entrance all of the staff were in line singing and dancing, what a lovely welcome. Sanet the lodge manager welcomed us with open arms and all the staff introduced themselves on first name basis. David and Patrick our waiters wanted to be called by the children Uncle David and Uncle Patrick, they were so nice - anything we wanted they would be quick to assist. It’s always the warm welcome and the friendliness of the staff when you arrive at a property that makes it stand out from the crowd and Camp Ndlovu was no exception.
As we walked into the main door I was quiet frankly blown away even the kids didn’t know where to look first - the emotion of everything just hit me and I felt incredibly grateful and lucky to be with my family and amazing friends standing on the most beautiful terrace with wild elephants and zebras at a watering hole right in front of me. The table was set for lunch, the swimming pool ready for the kids to jump into and the most beautifully designed rustic interior on the deck had a bottle of champagne on ice waiting to be served.
I have wanted to take my children on Safari for so long, especially as their love watching wild life programs has increased over the years, but they have been too young to really appreciate the entire experience. Now at the age of 6,6 and 7, I knew that they were ready to enjoy and appreciate a safari holiday.
It's hard to comprehend that such stunning beauty is literally on my friends doorstep. Having grown up in a bustling city like Dubai, this stunning backdrop was simply breathtaking.
Lunch was soon served which was wonderful - beef and chicken kebabs fresh off the bbq, prawn tempura, fresh bread and yummy salad. As much as the lunch was amazing we were all distracted by the wild animals roaming around in front of us. I do love elephants and I couldnt believe that there was one less than a 100 yards away from us, drinking water in the river below the lodge. Sometimes it really is the simple things in life that take your breath away.
This beautiful lodge welcomes children of all ages and can accommodate 10 people in 5 luxury suites all inclusive of 2 daily game-drives, breakfast, lunch and dinner including beverages. We had 10 people (2 families) in our group so this meant that we had the property exclusively for 5 days.... yipee!
My family had been given the ‘owners cottage’, which was the most wonderful 2 bedroom en-suite villa with living room, dining room, kitchen, office, outdoor bath and a large deck with a fire pit, indoor/outdoor sitting room, dining table and a large swimming pool over looking a watering hole where animals would stop to drink as they would roam by. What I loved after every evening game drive was that when you returned back to the villa the bath was ready, music was on the surround sound and the lights were dimly lite - so tranquil even a little romantic, that was until the kids would start screaming or crying
That afternoon the kids had a swim in the villa pool and before we knew it, standing by the watering hole, only yards away, was an elephant, wow wee!! We weren’t frightened even though this was a wild animal and even the elephant was hesitant to come so close to us. What an unbelievable experience!
That evening before sunset we left on an evening game drive. This is where you need to take everything with you as the weather changes as soon as the sun goes down (see below my top tips on what to pack) as the temp suddenly dropped so jumpers, hats and jackets on and we were all under the thick blankets that were on every seat in the car. With the sunset the landscape also changed, with the red sky reflecting off the changing terrain - I managed to capture a wonderful pic of a giraffe next to a tree and of two rhinos - seriously the pictures were beautiful no filter required. Did you know that a group of giraffes is called a journey!
My friend Nixs is an amazing photographer, she was using her big camera while I used my iPhone XR to take videos and close up as the camera is awesome.
Again the kids were great, they would chat together in the car and then once we saw an animal they would be quiet and listen to Melvin.
Around 7.30pm we got back to the lodge for dinner. Drinks were served as we sat around the fire. The kids would play board games and then we would have dinner. While on Safari you normally go to bed early, as it’s always an early start the next morning.
The next morning we woke to our wake up call at 630 am - we jumped out of bed with excitement and looked out the window as we could hear all the baboons crying and fighting. As the sun came up we ran to the main restaurant for a coffee, which Melvin had prepared and by 7am we were all in the car wrapped up in the usual winter attire and back under the thick warm blankets.
By 9am the sun is out and the heat has cranked up (don’t forget its winter in SA which means no rain, crisp fresh air and blue skies and the sun is always shining). Winter is also the dry season and is perfect to experience safari, as the trees are bare so it’s easy to spot animals and of course the weather is cooler. However whatever time of year you go on safari, you’re always guaranteed a wonderful experience but you’re not always guaranteed to spot the Big 5.
So what is the Big 5?
The term “Big Five” originally referred to the difficulty in hunting the lion, leopard, rhino, elephant and buffalo. These five large African mammal species were known to be dangerous and it was considered a feat by trophy hunters to bring one home.
Another interesting fact: ungainly as they look the hippopotamus is actually the world's deadliest large land mammal,. Hippos are aggressive creatures, and they have very sharp teeth. Did you know the hippo is part of the ‘whale’ family! Can you believe that!!
Let me tell you a little bit about our wonderful guide Melvin! Melvin has been working at Welgevonden Game Reserve for over 27 years. He knows the reserve like the back of his hand - he knows everything about every single animal, he can spot an animal footprint in the sand, identify the animal and how fresh the tracks are – this is what caused us to go on a breathless track of a leopard, unfortunately it got to dark so this elusive animal (and the toughest of the Big 5 to spot) slipped away. He knows whose poo is whose and he can even make animal calling sounds. Hyena’s have the easiest to identify poo as its white and full of calcium from eating the bones left from a carcass!
I would say your safari experience will always boil down to how amazing your ranger is. Not only did Melvin have the experience and knowledge, he was extremely kind and patient with the children and answered all their questions.
As we had the lodge to ourselves we could really determine how long our drives would last for - Melvin loved this, as he didn’t have to rush back for breakfast, so we would stay out in the morning for about 6 hours in order to properly track animals.
This particular morning -. Melvin has been told that about 30 mins away a mother cheetah and her 4 cubs had been spotted so off we went to find her. We drove though narrow valleys which were covered with about 60 elephants and we even had a road block as a rhino was lying in the path of the car - when you are near elephants you must stay quiet and whisper in order for them not to charge at you however when you see a rhino you should talk loudly. This is because rhinos have poor eyesight so the noise lets them know you are there, so they feel unthreatened.
We spot the mother cheetah who is taking shade under a tree with her cubs. It’s around 10am and she clearly hasn’t eaten yet as she is looking around constantly and on watch for something nice to eat. We stopped the car pretty close by so as we could watch her, her cubs were playing and one was climbing the tree. Then suddenly mum walks off up a hill close by in order for a better view. Melvin spots a couple of springbok in the distance - this guy has 20/20 vision, how he spots what he does without binoculars is incredible. The cheetah then starts walking in the direction of the springbok, with her babies slowly following behind. She crouches to take cover and then she goes for it... right in front of our eyes we witness the fastest animal on the planet kill a springbok! In short spurts a cheetah can run up to speeds of 100 – 120 km that’s 70 mph in 3 seconds! The springbok has no chance as she literally catches it and skids due to the speed of her run, she u turns and picks it back up. With the animal in her mouth she walks towards her babies and takes shade under another tree. It’s amazing to watch her motherly instincts - she gives the kill to her babies as she’s too tired to eat while she watches out for any other animals who might smell the blood of a fresh kill. Cheetahs are not very good at protecting their kill so they have to eat it quickly before lions or hyenas come and get it. Leopards on the other hand, once they have a kill will deposit it high in the trees away from reach of other animals.
What an experience! A National Geographic episode right in front of our eyes – we were extremely fortunate and grateful as our friends said in 10 years of Safari they had not seen a cheetah kill until now.
Its now time for our breakfast so Melvin finds a spot – animal free by a dried out river for us to park up and enjoy breakfast. Our picnic was great - boiled eggs, salmon, sausages, yoghurt, muesli, you name it. It felt strange out in the open eating breakfast as any animal could appear, but Melvin has the experience so we felt totally safe. Melvin then took the kids for an adventure to stretch their legs in the dried out riverbed explaining all types of things related to animals and plants along the way.
Once back at the lodge the kids had a swim and I took the drone out. We had been given permission to use it but only on the lodge premises. The most fascinating thing happened. There was one elephant close to us who could clearly hear the noise of the drone, he would stare in its direction, bemused and then he walked way and went behind the trees. Two minutes later about 10 elephants suddenly appeared, it was like he had told all his friends to come and check out the noise. We hadn’t seen so many elephants all together next to the lodge which just goes to show that they are always so close by but hiding behind the trees – for such a large animal elephants are so quiet - you normally only hear them if they are knocking down trees. We managed to catch this incredible footage on the drone.
The next morning we were up again at 6.30 and in the car by 7am with our coffees in hand. We were on a mission as this was the day we were on the hunt for lions.
It had been radioed through that all the lions were in one area of long grass which made it super hard to spot them. However the king of the jungle finally walked passed us but we noticed that he was limping - Melvin said that he must have been in a fight and that we should just leave him to rest. Lionesses are the hunters while males chill and protect the cubs even though they want to be known as the dominant ones! It’s amazing how the animals notice and hear the sound of the cars but aren’t fazed by it at all, this is because they don’t know any different. Since they were born in this reserve they have seen humans and cars and never felt threatened, as they have been left alone.
During one of the game drives we followed two brother cheetahs that were about a year old. They are always spotted side by side and they walked ever so calmly past the cars. A couple of years ago when we were in the Masai Mara a cheetah jumped on the car bonnet in order to get an elevated view of the plain - it was thrilling at the time but this time we had 6 kids in the car, so thankfully they just kept on walking.
Melvin reassured us that the cheetahs wouldn’t come close as they are always on their guard as they and all the animals still consider humans a super predator and a threat at any time, especially if a human is outside the car.
One evening the lodge staff looked after the kids while the 4 adults went to watch the sun go down and enjoy a few kid free hours with a glass in hand out in the bush. This time was precious as we enjoyed a little adult time and had great chat with Melvin. He took us to the top of the mountain, set up a little bar and shared many stories with us.
Once back at the lodge the kids welcomed us with a song on the drum and were so excited to show us the evening’s surprise - this really was a surprise as hidden behind a wall the staff had set up a bomo fire and bbq for dinner.
We were escorted in and the dancing commenced. Everyone was on form, dancing and singing. Even my little Sisi had a ‘dance off’ with David and let me tell you that he had some really serious African moves.
The next morning’s drive we saw 4 hippos with 2 babies basking in the sun next to a large river with crocodiles close by. As we were watching them all huddled together. something must have disturbed them as they all stood up and ran into the water and stayed underwater for a while. Adult hippos can hold their breathe under water for 5 minutes and can even sleep underwater, using a reflex that allows them to bob up, take a breath, and sink back down without waking up.
One afternoon my husband did a bush walk with Melvin, an experience he was so excited to do. A bush walk is a serous affair and not many rangers agree to do it as you are completely in the wild, not within the confines of a sturdy car and potentially at the mercy of wild animals. Before the start of the walk, Melvin explained some very important rules of the walk in detail: no talking, always walk behind the ranger, follow ranger hand signs to stop, crouch or slide and keep looking around and focused as any animal could appear at any time. At least the massive hunting rifle with 1 bullet (strong enough to kill an elephant and just about maim a lion – elephant skin thicker so the bullet would go straight through a lion) gave my husband some level of safety – Why only 1 bullet Melvin?: he replied calmly “because you only get 1 chance”!
On a safari holiday, many things need to come together to make it truly memorable. Our experience at the Welgevonden Game Reserve and at Camp Ndlovu had everything and more, it was truly a holiday to remember. I can’t recommend this enough – especially for a first time safari with kids, this was pretty priceless.
To find out more about Safari holidays suitable for children, contact me directly as I have teamed up with Safari lodges across Africa including, Welgevoden, Masai Mara, Kruger, Sabi Sands, Zambia, Botswana, Rwanda and Zimbabwe.
Also UAE, KSA and Qatari passport holders do not need a visa for South Africa.
Families visiting South Africa must provide additional paperwork when traveling with children in order to board the aircraft from your point of departure. These requirements apply for all nationalities.
Safari Check list!
* Woolly hat
* Sun block
* Duffle bag
PS. A huge thank you to the Moulvi’s for the most wonderful holiday. And a huge thank you to all the team at Camp Ndlovu for looking after us all so well. Please note this was not a sponsored trip.
Watch our video on Camp Ndlovu here:
Watch our safari video here:
As an avid traveler, pre and post my three children, and a lover of boutique hotels, I have been fortunate enough to travel extensively, stay at unique properties and take adventures off the beaten track.
I've been lucky to see and enjoy so much that I think now is the perfect time to share my travel experiences, so I have created Unique Family Travel - a company where my team and I can develop bespoke, wonderful and unique travel experiences for you and your family. I can guarantee our experiences aren't available on the likes of large booking websites as we take you on a tailored journey which caters to your specific needs.
Each destination and journey should be a timeless memory, created for you and your family and captured in fantastic memories to keep forever. We can help with this simply because that's how I would do it for myself, my family and friends!
Do get in touch with us, drop us a line and lets get you going on your next amazing, unique travel experience.
PS. All photos on this site are taken by me, mostly on my iphone :)
Get in touch and let's start planning your dream holiday