The travel experts at Mr & Mrs Smith have braved the Bushveld and scoured the savannah in order to unearth their favourite family-friendly safari getaways. Whether you want to wake up in the jungles of Thailand or India, along the river banks of South Africa, or in the Andean Highlands, here are five fabulous places you can head to for a safari getaway.
Chiang Rai, Thailand
Anantara Golden Triangle has eye-popping views of the Mekong River, Myanmar and Laos. Did we mention that it also has an elephant camp on its doorstep? (Be prepared for impromptu visits from the big-eared gentle giants at mealtimes.) Time at the elephant camp is a must: have a mahout teach you how to handle the enormous beasties, go on a trek by the river or through the forest, join in with elephant bathing time or discover tips for surviving in the forest from the mahouts. Back at the hotel, babysitting with hotel staff is available for just THB150 an hour; free baby cots can be added to rooms.
Smith Extra: Airport pick-up by car and one Loi Krathong (floating lights) ceremony per booking. GoldSmiths will also be treated to a regal elephant ride from the arrival pier to the hotel.
Kruger National Park, South Africa
This six-room safari lodge is set in seclusion on the banks of the Sweni river, meaning stays here really are wild at heart. All-inclusive rates cover meals and drinks, two game drives a day, walking safaris and transfers to the airstrip, making safari adventures blissfully easy. Don’t forget your binoculars: each room has a game-viewing deck (plus an outdoor shower). Little Smiths are very welcome: under-twos stay for free; two to 16 year-olds stay for 50% of the full rate. Families need to book a private safari vehicle (free for families of four or more, with at least one child under ten).
Smith Extra: A South African wine tasting experience for guests staying three nights or more
3. Mashpi Lodge
Andean Highlands, Ecuador
Want to wake up in the cloud forest? Look no further than eco-friendly hotel Mashpi Lodge, a modern monolith of recycled steel, tropical wood and glass, hidden in Ecuador’s Andean foothills. It was build in sustainable style by former Quito mayor Roque Sevilla, on land wrested from loggers. Its minimalist decor draws the eye to The Land Before Time-esque views. While there, you can trek, sample local delicacies, try your hand at butterfly-and-hummingbird spotting, or play a bio-boffin in the hotel’s research centre. To make family meals easy, restaurant staff can set up high chairs and heat milk; chefs will happily prepare kid-friendly meals.
Pench National Park, India
Guests enter eco-friendly resort Jamtara Wilderness Camp under the spreading branches of a banyan tree and embark on a jungle adventure (for older kids, this is basically The Jungle Book come to life). Nights here are spent under the stars, or in white tents shielded by clusters of Arjuna trees. In true Kipling style, furred, feathered and clawed creatures prowl and swoop by this fairy-tale safari-break spot (courtesy of Pench National Park next door), safely viewed on a game drive; by night, stories are swapped around a campfire. An extra bed or baby cots can be added to tents and guests can hire bikes to explore the wilderness.
Smith Extra: One private dinner in the bush for two.
Kruger National Park, South Africa
You’ll share Tintswalo with a large herd of elephants and other big game, all of whom are drawn to the local waterhole (spy on from the beautiful main lodge). Located on the private Manyeleti Game Reserve concession, within the Greater Kruger National Park, the hotel is surrounded by pristine wilderness; this sense of isolation continues in the suites, which feel deliciously private. Children can stay in the manor house or four-bed presidential suite; a separate activity programme is available to them. Under 12s are allowed on game drives at the discretion of the guide (under 16s aren’t permitted on game walks).
Smith Extra: A 15 minute back of neck massage and a private dinner in the wine cellar.
Mr & Mrs Smith gets you the best rates, guaranteed, as well as a little something extra on arrival at every hotel. To book, call the Smith 24 team toll-free at +1 800 905 326, or visit www.smithandfamily.com.