LEAD Safari

Safari With Kids In South Africa

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.


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

* Cap

* Jacket

* Jumpers

* Shorts

* Swimwear

* Binoculars

* Sun block

* Duffle bag

* Trainers


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:



Family Friendly Couple
Residence lead

The Residence

The Residence is a boutique hotel set amidst an abundance of bougainvillea in the historical suburb of Houghton, Johannesburg. With seductive and sophisticated style, 17 rooms with views of the lush gardens.


Camp lead

Camp Ndlovu

Camp Ndlovu is a luxury lodge for 10 people, situated in the Welgevonden Game Reserve, a 35,000 hectare stretch of exceptionally beautiful scenery amid river ravines and mountains in the Waterberg district of Limpopo province. Malaria free and home to Africa’s Big Five  https://theresidenceportfolio.co.zad


Soweto Lead image


Traveling is not only a way to create wonderful memories but its also a great way to showcase to the rest of the world places that people may never get the chance to visit. Its also a wonderful way to meet people from all walks of life which in turn will put your own life into perspective.



While in Johannesburg we went on a tour of Soweto. For people that may have never heard of Soweto, which stands for South West Township – it is the largest township in Johannesburg where millions of people were displaced to during the apartheid era and is currently home to 2 million people living in a diverse environment.


The establishment of Soweto is, like Johannesburg, linked directly to the discovery of Gold in 1885. Thousands of people from around the world and South Africa flocked to the new town to seek their fortunes. Within 4 years Johannesburg was the second largest city. More than half the population was black, most living in multi racial shanty towns near the gold mines in the center of the town. As the gold mining industry developed, so did the need for labour increase. Migrant labor was started and most of these workers lived in mine compounds. However other workers had to find their own accommodation often in appalling conditions, with no running water, which is still apparent today.


Our tour guide was Zimmy , who lives in Soweto and he showed us the most authentic Soweto, not only did we see the tourist areas but we also saw the under belly of a city that suffers from crime, poverty, drug lords and prostitution.


Soweto is also famous for being home to two of Africa’s most prominent black men – Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu, who at one stage of their lives lived a couple of yards away from each other on the same street – Vilakazi Street. Remarkably, this is the only road in the world that has two Nobel peace prize winners, with Tutu receiving his award in 1984 and Mandela in 1994.


You can take a tour around Mandela and Winnie’s house known as ‘8115’ where he lived with his two children  in 1946 – 1990 – this was just before his incarceration on Robben Island at the age of 50.


Mandela spent 27 years in prison and was released at the age of 77 after which he became president of South Africa at the age of 80 years old. What a man, what a story and what a legend! Even though he was 80 years old,

and despite all his struggles and hardship, he still had such strength, will power and a message he wanted to send the world.


Sadly you cannot go into Desmond Tutu’s house as of yet as some of his family still live in the house, however a large plaque outside on his wall, honors his legacy.


As you can imagine this particular Vilakazi Street has become a bustling tourist area. Close by this area is also the museum for Hector Pieterson who was a South African schoolboy aged 15 shot and killed during the Soweto uprising  when police opened fire on students protesting the enforcement of teaching in Afrikaans. 


A news photograph of the mortally wounded Pieterson being carried by another Soweto resident while his sister ran next to them was published around the world. This brought this brutal situation to the forefront of all media on a global scale. The anniversary of his death is designated ‘Youth Day’ when South Africans honor all young people.


Driving through the streets of Soweto, we couldn’t believe how diverse it was with many run down properties, wrought iron shacks as homes and then one area where the wealthy live in large gated houses, with cars and they even have manicured  gardens. Even though these people now have money – Soweto is their home so they haven’t moved out, but this has caused friction with all the other, less fortunate residents.


During our tour we stopped at a corner bar, where locals were chilling and enjoying a beer. There was a group of ladies all dressed in black who had attended a funeral earlier that morning. For approx. 20 Rand (AED5) you get a liter bottle of beer - no surprise that alcoholism is rife. A poster on the wall caught my attention

‘Fire arms free zone’ even though you need a license to carry a fire arm, people carry them for safety and self defense living in such a dangerous area. 


After the bar we then headed to an area where Zimmy our tour guide lived called Kliptown.


Kilptown is a massive informal settlement where thousands live in abject poverty. Residents call it ‘the place history forgot’. The people living in this area are approx 55,000 in number – however they are subject to widespread unemployment, illegal electricity connections and exposed sewage as part of their daily lives. There maybe a couple of portable toilets in the streets but they have been there for years which have most probably never been cleaned. Rumor has it that its common to find a fetus inside the loo as there’s no running water so it gets blocked (devastating)


Kids as young as 2 are roaming the area alone or with other young children and many of the youth hang in the streets as a way to pass the time. What is great to see if the amazing artwork/graffiti on all the walls, as spray paints have been donated to the community. We actually took a lot of paint bottles as we were informed that some of the youth want to create a wall dedicated to women!


Zimmy, who was our wonderful guide, is 29 years old who 9 years ago meet a guy called Bob while he was living on the streets in the city but still managing to attend college.


Bob brought Zimmy back to Kilptown, where he later adopted him and whom he has educated and trained him to be a tour guide in Soweto and also trained him to run the local youth centre and become a social entrepreneur, educating the people with in the community.  Today Zimmy is engaged to a lovely woman who helps him run the youth center and he has a two year old daughter. It was wonderful to meet such a person with strength and determination who wanted to change his life around, get an education and defend for himself. Zimmy is extremely eloquent, and knowledgeable who if given the chance would make a great trustworthy employee and maybe even one day run his own successful business.


This brings me to Bob - who is known as the “Mother Teresa” of Kliptown. For 32 years he has been helping the youth and people in his community. His message is to encourage people to work, get an education and make people understand that you have to work for what you want and need in life and not to expect it to be handed to you. Bob has adopted many children and young adults even though he can’t financially provide in the way we know how, his selfless acts of love provides a nurturing family environment- this touched my soul as love makes the world a better place.


I admire Bob so much as his selfless acts of kindness are providing compassion. hope and opportunities, allowing the youth who recognize it, the chance to make a better life. With a slim build and long dread locks, Bob invites us into his home within the youth centre. It has a small room (bedroom/sitting room) and kitchen which he opens to anyone and everyone.

There’s a group of kids in one corner singing to the guitar and a family in the other corner mourning the death of their 80 year old father who died a couple of hours earlier that morning with Bob being the one to assist with the funeral and the youth centre a place where the community can come together.


Bobs love for his community is evident along with his spiritual drive that sustains his work and his daily message. Bob is one of those genuine people that are angels living amongst us.


The youth centre is small but is the pulse of this unbelievably run down area, with two toilets that Bob himself cleans and maintains. They have running water, loo paper and a bath mat – it’s the little things like this that go a long way.


Children as young as 2 run freely in and out of the youth centre to chat to Bob and Zimmy as they know everyone who lives in the community and their personal story.  One little boy just wanted to be held and hugged by us all - his mum an alcoholic clearly overwhelmed by her day to day life, can’t manage her son and neglects him. I managed to catch on camera this little boy and a few other boys, no older than 4 years old dancing, their faces beaming with smiles and laughter, living in the moment, with not a care in the world or the circumstances around them.


I am always brought to tears and humbled by meeting such selfless, kind and socially entrepreneurial people. I have visited similar areas in Dhaka, India and Pakistan and it’s evident that such communities are run and supported by angels like Bob. 


It doesn’t matter where we come from or what we have in life it will always come down to three things – love, food and a roof over our heads - anything more and we really do live like kings. 


Traveling is the window to life, an opportunity to learn and share stories.  Whatever we have in life we have everything - be grateful, be humble and thank your lucky stars that you have a place to rest at the end of every day and food to eat. 

Family Friendly Couple
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Planning A Family Safari?

There is something so unique about going on a safari with kids, it’s a life changing experience especially as the landscape is an enormous outdoor classroom.

If you are looking at planning a Safari holiday with your family then you must checkout our list of everything you need to know and more.


Firtsly it's worth doing some research to find the right kind of safari, in the right destination, so that little ones will be engaged and inspired. You must also take into consideration your child’s age and how long they will be able to sit in a car for as Safari’s are a matter of patience.

Do all camps accept kids?
No not all camps do. You need to check with specific camps to see what their policy is on kids. Some camps allow kids ages six to 12 to attend game. While children younger than six cannot participate in lodge activities, child minders (aka babysitters) can be arranged during activities and at meal times at an additional cost.


Do we need to take any particular jabs when going on a Safari?

The two most important diseases to take precautions against in Africa are malaria and yellow fever both are spread by mosquitos. Yellow fever is easily combatted via a simple and highly effective single vaccination, which is routinely available from a travel clinic. You must have it at least 10 days before you leave for two reasons: it takes a few days before you are effectively protected, and you may experience light flu-like symptoms, which are unpleasant on a long haul flight.


I don’t want to give my kids anti-malaria pills—where can we go that’s low-risk for the disease?  
There are a few game reserves in South Africa that are perfectly 
suited. “The Madikwe Reserve has wonderful and varied game viewing as well as camps that cater to families,” says Saperstein. Also, he notes, Tswalu is one of the largest private game reserves in Africa—it’s malaria-free and has fantastic activities for children, including Southern Skies stargazing and daytime meerkat tracking.


Where’s the best place to go if my child is obsessed with lions?
Masai Mara in Kenya is fantastic for lion sightings hence why The BBC documentary series Big Cat Diary has filmed there for many years. If you want to go to South Africa, there are some amazing private gave reserves there as well: Sabi Sand, Madikwe and Timbavati.  (see below)


What types of accommodations should I book?
Go for properties that offer large family lodges with swimming pools for the kids to wind down if need be. Be adventurous and try camping too – be it luxury or mid level as there is something about being in the great outdoors and the connection with the wilderness.


Try to book a private car

As a family its best to have your own car so as you can go at your desired pace. There might be areas that you don’t want to do or the kids start to get a bit agitated – you don’t want to be stuck with a photographer who is waiting to capture the perfect moment


Binoculars are essential. Have at least one pair to share amongst the family, even better if your children can have their own pair.

Bring wildlife guide-books with you, children (and many adults) love ticking the wildlife checklist off as they spot them.

Bring a back pack with you complete with:

·       Sun protection: long hours in the sun can put skin at risk of burning, so make sure you bring high-factor sun creams, hats for game drives.

·       Insect bites: have insect repellents to hand, especially for the evenings and wetter environments. An anti-itch, post-bite balm is also a great idea.

·       Food: Every kid needs snacks!

·       Motion sickness tablets are good to have on standby.


Below are a few Safari Lodge recommendations, but do contact us directly for more information:



Singita - South Africa, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Rwanda 

Singita is a conservation brand that has been preserving African wilderness for the past 25 years, offering guests an exceptional safari experience with 12 luxury, award winning lodges and camps across five regions in Africa. in partnership with non profit funds and trusts who implement strategic conservation projects in each region, Singita is preserving and protecting pristine land and wildlife populations.





Emakoko - Kenya

The Emakoko is a beautiful lodge uniquely positioned on the edge of the Nairobi National Park. It is located a 45 minute drive from either of Nairobi’s airports. The drive through the park itself, with its beautiful scenery and abundance of plains game is a spectacular way to start any East African safari.





Madikwe Game Reserve - South Africa bordering Botswana

Madikwe Game Reserve is currently the fifth largest game reserve and is also one of the lesser known parks in SA. This makes it a hidden gem as it is regarded as one of the best conservation areas in Africa and offers the Big 5. The park offers a number of luxurious lodges in a malaria free zone.




Welgevoden Game Reserve - Johannesburg, South Africa

Welgevonden Game Reserve (Dutch for “well found”), is a 34,850ha game reserve in the Waterberg District, of the Limpopo Province of South Africa. A pleasant 2.5-hour drive or an easy 45-minute flight from Johannesburg into one of the airstrips, makes Welgevonden one of the most accessible premier malaria free wilderness reserves in the country. It forms part of the Waterberg Biosphere Reserve which was officially declared by UNESCO in 2001 and currently covers an area in excess of 4000 km².




See the beautiful lodges available




Simbavati Safari Lodges - Kruger National Park, South Africa

The Timbavati Private Nature Reserve is one of the few places in the world where you have the opportunity to see the unique white lion in their natural environment





Hill Top Lodge – Pavilion style luxury tents



River Lodge – Family Friendly luxury tents




Fairmont Masai Mara, Kenya

 The Fairmont Mara Safari Club, a luxury Masai Mara resort hotel in Kenya. With four poster, pillow-top beds and a veranda overlooking the hippo and crocodile-filled river, each of the 50 tents at Fairmont Mara Safari Club is superbly furnished with its own private, three-piece bathroom, including a number of “outdoor showers” in select tents.




Four Seasons Serengeti, Tanzania 

Perched on a series of elevated platforms and walkways, our Lodge sits next to an animal watering hole, where you can watch a family of elephants stop for their morning drink as you sip your own out on your room’s private balcony. Under the constant protection of local Maasai tribes people, we’ll take you in the bush for an exhilarating game drive





Kapama - South Africa 

Nestled between the Blyde River Valley and Kruger National Park, Kapama’s four luxury camps offer an escape for nature lovers from across the globe. This untouched part of  Africa is home to some our the countries most endangered, beautiful and fascinating wild life.




Wild Coast Lodge

Closer to home in Sri Lanka is the stunning Wild Coast Lodge. 

This remote Safari camp is made up of luxurious cocoon like lodgings. Inspired by the egg shaped boulders found on the beach. The inside of the cocoons ooze luxury with teak floors, leather chairs and a free-standing copper bath.  The resort has an open air restaurant, a spa and an infinity pool. But the biggest attraction is right on the door step of the lodge as Yala National Park is rich in wildlife with Cheetah and elephants roaming around.



Family Friendly Couple
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15 Top Eco Friendly Resorts.

Our Top 15 Eco Friendly and Sustainable Luxury Resorts.

Eco-tourism is all about travelling lightly and leaving no heavy footprints on the terrain you’re exploring. More and more resorts around the world are taking this into consideration and lessening their impact on the environment, supporting local communities, aiding wildlife and conservations areas and blending nicely into their surrounding habitat.


I’ve listed below my top eco friendly resorts who have incorporated sustainable practices into their operations and are working to conserve resources, recycle waste materials, and offer guests a unique and luxurious experience all while being mindful of our planet.


I hope I can encourage you to experience one of these properties and experience the power of eco-travel. Through Unique Family Travels, we can offer exclusive, specially discounted rates for your next booking so pick a resort below and let us do all the planning!

1. Soneva  - Maldives


Being a brand ambassador for Soneva, I have witnessed and experienced intelligent luxury at its best while minimalizing the impact on the planet. This is a brand where rareness, sustainability and wellness come brilliantly together.

Within the Soneva portfolio they have three stunning resorts two being Soneva Fushi and Soneva Jani in the Maldives.


From the minute you step onto Soneva sand you will appreciate just how dedicated the brand is to sustainable living. Throughout Soneva properties you will notice that there is no plastic allowed, in fact drinks are all served via glass bottles.. You may ask yourself what each resort does with the bottles? Don’t worry Soneva have thought of everything and taken the situation into their own hands. On the Soneva Fushi Island they have their very own glass factory. They first crush down the glass and melt it in a glass furnace then via a variety of techniques they up cycle!  After that Soneva’s own skilled team of glass specialists create signature items for the restaurants and villas. They also mix fine particles of glass with cement and Styrofoam to make cement bricks for construction. From the coconuts they make oil for cooking and to use in the spa.


When it comes to their extensive menu everything is farm-to-table food by buying locally and growing produce in their own organic vegetable gardens.


Watch Soneva Jani video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P9Z6okLJDv0

Watch Soneva Fushi video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eISOD7MzHNU



2. Soneva Kiri, Koh Kood, Thailand



Soneva Kiri is located on Thailand’s least populated island, Koh Kood. And surrounded by untamed jungle and pristine beaches. This intelligent luxury eco friendly resort offers 36 expansive villas constructed from local timber, driftwood and bamboo and come with stunning infinity pools, eco-chic furnishings, and personal electric buggies. 


The Soneva Group is a pioneer in sustainable luxury tourism, holding annual symposiums with leading environmentalists, and it endorses a concept they call SLOW life, which stands for Sustainable Local Organic Wellness Learning Inspiring Fun Experiences. Among its initiatives, the resorts recycle plastic and glass, create their cooking charcoal, limit waste, grow its own produce-fed compost from hotel waste, installs solar panels to save fossil fuel use, and audit its supply chain for its environmental impact. 


Watch Soneva Kiri video:




3. Bisma Eight, Ubud, Bali



Bisma is a stylish and modern boutique hotel tucked inside the jungles of Ubud, which greatly respects the environment around it. Featuring minimalist eco-luxe decor, Bisma Eight incorporates eco-design elements and is constructed from sustainable materials such as bamboo and jute. The baths in the rooms are made of wood and look like giant grape crushing buckets. There is something beautiful about being at one with nature while swimming in their infinity pool ledge, which is delicately balanced over lush Bali jungle. Produce served is grown in their own organic garden on site.


Watch Bisma Eight video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4DYhzg3_zmk



4. Six Senses Yao Noi, Thailand



Six Senses-Yao Noi has in place the 3R (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle) 

Natural materials used in the modern architecture, together with attention to detail and focus on the unique destination reinforce the Six Senses philosophy of sustainability and creating exceptional experiences.


At the Six Senses Yao Noi's their list of Environmental and Social Sustainability projects are endless as they focus on energy efficiency, water and waste management, social commitment, protecting natural surroundings, air quality and noise control.  Six Senses-Yao Noi was built on the site of a former rubber plantation. Many of the rubber trees were kept to create shade from the sun as well as keeping soil from eroding. In addition, the landscape and gardens have been improved with the philosophy of re-generating the tropical flora as it would have been if the area was left untouched. All villas have been designed to take advantage of passive cooling and overhanging roofs to create shade for the windows, thus reducing over reliance on air-conditioning.


Six Senses-Yao Noi helps the local government by having its own water reservoir in front of the spa as well as several deep wells. All the water used within the resort and host compound comes from its own water reservoir, making it self-sufficient.

The resort also produces its own drinking water through reverse osmosis, with re-useable glass water bottles. Water saving measures such as “push” valves, water saving showerheads and low flush toilet systems are installed. These all help to reduce water usage. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of water is also donated to Clean Water Funding, which helps to assist places that do not have access to portable water.


Watch their video:




5. Bawah Reserve, Indonesia’s Anambas archipelago



One resort on my bucket list is Bawah Reserve, which is enveloped by lush tropical greenery and azure blue ocean. Bawah Reserve rests in sheltered carefree seclusion 160 nautical miles (300km) northeast of Singapore in Indonesia’s remote Anambas Archipelago. Surrounded by clear turquoise waters, blue lagoons and coral reefs, this pristine and previously uninhabited marine conservation area caters to outdoor adventurers with an appetite for indulgence as well as paradise seekers looking for relaxation.  Bawah are committed to setting an example for responsible and sustainable tourism. Their eco-friendly approach extends across all operations, from permaculture to products: ocean-friendly sun cream, eco-friendly laundry detergent, and no plastic bottles. All of their waste is recycled; all paper is mulched; food waste is composted, and crushed glass is used in the water filtering process. The only land vehicles are electric buggies and they even have 2 solar powered boats!  The Resort is part of the Bawah Anambas Foundation, created to channel funds back into the land, the sea and the local community. Conservation and sustainability drives everything that takes place on the island. They harvest, treat and store rainwater, and have a sophisticated reverse-osmosis seawater treatment plant, utilizing multi-stage filtration technology. Water is heated by solar energy; wastewater is treated for their permaculturalist to use on their organic fruit and vegetable gardens; and pesticides are banned. Due to the official marine conservation status of the Reserve, fishing, anchoring and collection of any marine life is forbidden; and so that the island does not suffer tourist trampling, only 35 suites have been built.


Watch Bawah Reserve video - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Y70eMB9Ukg



6. Ariara Resort, Philippines



Ariara Resort in the Philippines was voted by Times Magazine as “the best private island in the world” and Architectural Digest praised that Ariara is where “low impact design meets five-star luxury.” 

The journey to get to this remote destination is not easy – it takes either a four-hour trimaran cruise or a one-hour speedboat ride from the port of Coron – but it is well worth it. This gorgeous contemporary style 125-acre private island resort was designed by Filipino architect Jorge Yulo who stayed sensitive to the island environment. This exclusive and small resort consists of 10 villas situated along the main beach all offering uninterrupted views of the ocean.


By virtue of its remote location this part of Palawan is untouched by the negative influences of pollution, development or tourism. Thankfully the local people are slowly beginning to realize how rich their region is. Recognized by National Geographic as “One of the most bio diverse (terrestrial and marine) islands in the Philippines”, Palawan is the home of two UNESCO World Heritage Sites one being the Tubbataha Reef Marine Park.


Within Palawan, the Calamian Islands are considered to be the last frontier of the Philippines to remain untouched and unspoiled. Hence Ariara and its surrounding waters are a sanctuary for an enormous diversity of wildlife both on land, and at sea.

Ariara support the local community providing employment, training and education to the locals. They support government environmental programs and strive to preserve and enhance the natural habitat in order to support wildlife and marine life. They are also experimenting with renewable energy sources to harness wind and solar power and the use of carbon neutral coconut oil to run their generators rather than fossil fuels.


Watch Ariara Video - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VO6GqyVp7pc



7. Santani Wellness Resort, Kandy, Sri Lanka



Situated in the rolling green mountains of Sri Lanka, Santani is an eco-friendly, intimate sanctuary with 16 rooms that has a spiritual and relaxed philosophy. With a luxurious yet minimalistic approach, every guest’s experience is unique as you become immersed in the power and energy of nature all around you. Santani’s respect for the environment radiates through the variety of healing programs and design, which brings the outdoors in.


Watch Santani Wellness Resort video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zv3wfBoi2K8



8Singita Lodges – Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Kruger National Park, Sabi Sand, Rwanda



Singita’s evolution from a single lodge company to one that is now responsible for a million acres of land, operating 12 lodges and camps in five wilderness regions across three African countries, has always been characterized by a pioneering spirit and a sincere desire to preserve wilderness areas for future generations.

Its low-impact, high-value tourism model – fewer guests paying a premium for the privilege of experiencing vast open spaces – exists to sustain these wilderness areas and their resident wildlife, while providing an exclusive safari experience.


Set high in the hills amongst dramatic boulders, the organic-shaped buildings of Singita Pamushana Lodge are reminiscent of Great Zimbabwe. The lodge is the ecotourism arm of this 130,000-acre reserve and its role is to help foster the sustainability of the wildlife and broader ecology.


Biodiversity, community and sustainability are the three pillars of conservation supported by Singita. The brand is dedicated to conserving and restoring Africa’s wilderness and wildlife, and they use high-end ecotourism to do this. Their model is to responsibly and sustainably change people’s perspectives on the planet, and inspire those exposed to it to effect positive change in their own lives and own spheres of influence.


Biodiversity is the sum of all plant and animal life in a given geographical area, such as a reserve, a country or a continent. Efforts to enhance biodiversity are organized into three areas: reserve integrity, ecosystem integrity, and external influencers.

The long-term community development goal is to assist communities to thrive, both economically and socially. They recognize that sustainable operations across all their lodges and urban offices play a major role in achieving their overall purpose to preserve and protect large areas of African wilderness for future generations. They achieve this through continued efforts to reduce their ecological footprint and to improve conditions for their people, and those in neighboring communities.


Watch Singita Pamushana Lodge video https://singita.com/videos/singita-pamushana-lodge/?lodge-id=13652



9. Tri Lanka, Sri Lanka



Tri is Sri Lanka’s first truly contemporary sustainable luxury design hotel. Not far from Galle Fort, on the shores of Koggala Lake (Sri Lanka’s largest natural lake) and within easy reach of the best beaches in the south, 8 suites and villas spiral a six-acre hill of outstanding natural beauty. Ecotourism has never been so inspiring.


Create more, consume less; embrace every opportunity to learn and improve; be innovative and committed; inspire others to positive change; and always look to nature – that is their philosophy. Living walls, green roofs, 100% recycled wood and entirely local materials unify accommodations with their extraordinary landscape. The windows, doors, flooring and cladding have been crafted from entirely recycled local jak wood. Cinnamon sticks are used on exteriors to blend buildings into the land, enhance privacy and regulate temperature. Balconies and terraces are finished with natural pebble wash made from stones sifted from on-site construction sand. Three forms of local granite – natural, handpicked and bush-hammered -are used to create pathways, flooring, steps, vanities and shower walls.


Guided by local green consultancy Carbon Consulting Company, Tri is intent on reducing its carbon footprint annually and promoting sustainable practices at all times, including the careful monitoring of water and electricity consumption. 


Watch Tri Lanka video - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PM01g0Nx1N4



10.  Bardessono, Napa Valley



Bardessono is an award-winning hotel and spa in Napa Valley, and pioneer of a new modernity. Bardessono is the perfect resort to explore the wine country of Napa Valley, providing a luxurious guest experience and be very green at the same time.  Thoughtfully, and scientifically, they have minimized the impacts of construction and design, and integrating the most advanced environmental technologies to stay true to their beliefs. The result is an incredible experience.

Their environmental initiatives include non-toxic, non-allergenic materials used in construction, organic linens and cleaning supplies, recycling and composting programs, and natural heating and energy sources via rooftop solar panels.


Bardessono Hotel & Spa has an award winning, certified organic restaurant named after the owner Lucy Restaurant & Bar that serves garden and seasonally inspired cuisine, and is a unique farm- to-table experience.


Watch their video: https://www.bardessono.com/green-initiatives.htm



11. Song Saa Private Island, Cambodia



Song Saa offers 18 garden and beach villas, and nine over water villas and is known for amazing service. This private island should be one of the eco luxury hotels you consider booking if you are looking to get away from it all in a remote destination.

"Forward-thinking luxury" is the mantra on this tropical Cambodian private island, which prides itself on being an ethical and eco-friendly resort. Daily beach cleaning expeditions, and ongoing conservation programs in the area include community fisheries, a coral nursery, and a tropical marine protection project. Educational excursions are a crucial element of what they do, for guests and locals. The Song Saa Foundation supports community development, raising funds for local school supplies and, partly through the voluntary Pack for a Purpose scheme, providing sufficient medical attention and supplies to the remote area.


Watch Song Saa video - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1kL5dJRc7Yk



12. Nihi Sumba Island, Indonesia



Tucked away on one of Indonesia’s most unexplored islands hidden in 567 acres of land with its own private beach is Nihi Sumba Island hotel a luxury resort with a conscience. Almost entirely preserved from urban development, Sumba’s landscape is perfect for adventurers – especially surfers and wanderlusts.


Nihi is dedicated to preserving the natural environment and Sumbanese culture. All 33 ocean view suites and villas are individually decorated and hand-built with thatched roofs by Indonesian craftsmen using sustainable materials. Nihi is also committed to being a carbon-neutral resort and is powered by bio-fuel produced from coconuts at its own bio-diesel factory. A huge portion of profits from the resort are donated to supporting Sumbanese schools, hospitals, and farms through the Sumba Foundation, providing access to clean drinking water, creating educational program. The resort has become the biggest employer on the island and contributes massively to the health and welfare of the community. Since its inception, the Foundation has built 60 water wells and 240 water stations; 16 primary schools; and four medical clinics that provide reliable healthcare to over 25,000 people.


Watch Nhi Sumba video:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TPFllfd4nM8



13. The Brando, French Polynesia



If there’s one country I am desperate to see it’s stunning French Polynesia and the resort in particular is The Brando which is a unique luxury resort on French Polynesia’s breathtakingly beautiful private island of Tetiaroa – an atoll composed of a dozen small islands surrounding a lagoon. The Brando offers carefree luxury in the midst of pristine nature.


Former owner, eccentric Hollywood superstar Marlon Brando’s original vision was its core mission for sustainable tourism. It is close to self-sustainable, or carbon neutral, and is LEED certified meaning that their property has a substantial impact on the health and wellbeing of people and the planet. Buildings use resources, generate waste and are costly to maintain and operate. Green building is the practice of designing, constructing and operating buildings to maximize occupant health and productivity, use fewer resources, reduce waste and negative environmental impacts, and decrease life cycle costs. Electricity at the complex, for example, is generated from solar panels and coconut oil biofuel, while wastewater is used for sustainable irrigation. And the resort's cooling system uses a "closed loop heat exchanger" that takes very cold sea water from 900m (2,950ft) below the surface of the Pacific Ocean to cool the fresh water and air circulating round the complex. As the cooling system is powered largely by water pressure, it uses very little energy


Good news for guests staying at the resort as they are unlikely to be bitten by mosquitoes either, due to a sterilization program that has slashed Tetiaroa's mosquito population by at least 95% - How is this possible you may ask, well, the program breeds and releases non-biting male mosquitoes infected with Wolbachia bacteria that makes wild females - who do bite - sterile.


Watch the resort video - https://youtu.be/VYtYfZuux70



14. Wilderness Safari’s



Wilderness Safari’s operate eco friendly camps in 6 African countries – Zambia, Botswana, Rwanda, Kenya, Zimbabwe and Namibia.  All of Wilderness Safari camps are luxurious but they are also smartly designed to have the lightest possible impact on the environment – if they have to be moved in the future, they will leave no trace they were ever there.


They are dedicated to conserving and restoring Africa’s wilderness and wildlife, and use high-end ecotourism to do this. The Wilderness Wildlife Trust, an independent non-profit entity associated with the Wilderness Group, supports a wide variety of projects across Africa. The projects and researchers that it supports address the needs of existing wildlife populations, seek solutions to save endangered species and provide education and training for local people and their communities. 

The Trust focuses its work in three key areas: 
Research and Conservation – including species studies, monitoring of populations and understanding human-animal conflicts.
Community Empowerment and Education – such as community upliftment and the Children in the Wilderness program
Anti-poaching and Management – including aerial surveys, anti-poaching units and increasing capacity for researchers in general. The goal of the Trust is to make a difference to Africa, her wildlife and her people.


Bisate is Rwanda’s first genuinely luxurious and eco-sensitive safari camp, centered on Africa’s most immersive wild primate experience. Located in the natural amphitheater of an eroded volcanic cone, with dramatic views of the peaks of the Bisoke and Karisimbi volcanoes rearing up through Afro-alpine forests. Six opulent en-suite forest villas maximize comfort and views while adhering to environmentally responsible principles and reflecting the rich culture of rural Rwanda.


Watch their video: https://www.youtube.com/user/WildernessSafaris



15.  White Pod Eco Luxury Hotel, Swiss Alps



This resort, located in the Swiss Alps, might be a tad different to what you’re used to. The reason is the luxurious, eco-friendly sleeping pods, which can be utilized all throughout the year. The pods are low impact, which means they use a minimal of water and electricity, and they primarily consist of renewable resources. Since its creation in 2004, Whitepod aims to prove that hospitality and environmental conservation can coexist to create a unique and positive experience. The use of energy and water is controlled. The waste is recycled. Ingredients are purchased locally. The staff lives nearby and simply walks to work. Motorized transport is limited. Sleeping in a pod heated by a pellet stove facing an breathtaking view… Limited transport in the camp means that you have to walk from reception to your pod. This is part of the Whitepod experience. Just like walking in a silent forest or enjoying a local cuisine


There are two reasons domes are energy efficient. The ambient airflow inside the dome is continuous, with no stagnant corners, requiring less energy to circulate air and maintain even temperatures. The energy required to heat and cool a dome is approximately 30% less than a conventional building. The second is the high volume-to-surface-area ratio, requiring less building materials to enclose more space. The lower the ratio of a building’s outside perimeter to its enclosed living area, the less energy is required for building, heating and cooling.


Watch their video




Principles of Ecotourism

Ecotourism is about uniting conservation, communities, and sustainable travel. This means that those who implement, participate in and market ecotourism activities should adopt the following ecotourism principles:


Minimize physical, social, behavioral, and psychological impacts.

Build environmental and cultural awareness and respect.

Provide positive experiences for both visitors and hosts.

Provide direct financial benefits for conservation.

Generate financial benefits for both local people and private industry.

Deliver memorable interpretative experiences to visitors that help raise sensitivity to host countries’ political, environmental, and social climates.

Design, construct and operate low-impact facilities.

Recognize the rights and spiritual beliefs of the Indigenous People in your community and work in partnership with them to create empowerment.



Remember its up to each of us to do our part to help protect the planet for future generations.  So the next time you travel, I hope I’ve inspired you to try one of the above hotels in order to experience eco-luxury at its best.


Get in touch with us at Unique Family Travels and lets make your next vacation/holiday/getaway one that inspires you to contribute to this beautiful abundant planet of ours.


  Family Friendly Couple


About Us

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.

Happy Travels

Love Dani

PS. All photos on this site are taken by me, mostly on my iphone :)

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