Yes, as you blaze a trail into the blue yonder, your little darling can be lulled into the arms of Morpheus. It’s all thanks to the magical blend of vehicle movement and heat, with a dose of fresh air and quiet thrown in for good measure. Can you hear that? Silence. You will find this blissful lack of noise during your family vacation to Hluhluwe’s Hilltop Camp in South Africa.
Reading the map is half the fun
Travel up to the camp with your new reader navigating from the map. (The roads are clearly marked, so you can double check their directions!) As you enter the Hilltop grounds, stop at the picnic site and let your children expend built-up energy on the swings and jungle gym. While you watch them in these secure, fenced grounds, you might enjoy a picnic. Alternatively, have a meal at Hilltop Restaurant.
Sitting on the outside patio overlooking the valley, you can relax while the kids explore within easy reach. The panoramic view allows children to see a lot of game from up high. The main reception area and curio shop have interesting park facts and pictures on display and an animal sightings board which is regularly updated by visitors. Encourage your children to add to the board and plan your next game drive.
Plenty of space to play
Hilltop Camp has a restaurant, play area and swimming pool. Wallowing in the cool water during the summer months (November – April), is the ideal way to escape the heat between game drives, which is why the camp is so recommendable for families. Perhaps take a self-guided forest walk within the grounds.
Viewing the game
Game viewing during winter months is a wise idea. Not only does the cooler weather make extended periods in the car more pleasant, but as there is less water in the park, animals congregate near watering holes in large numbers, so you see more.
The risk of malaria is very low during winter but as a precaution get your doctor to prescribe anti-malaria tablets prior to departure, and coat the family in mosquito repellent.
Although you are about 30 minutes from a large town, it is recommendable to travel with the usual “just-in-case’ medicine kit for headaches, tummy upsets and temperatures. As a parent, you probably have all of these tucked away in your handbag anyway! Valoid, Immodium and Panado, are the brands you want while in South Africa, and these can be collected at the airport pharmacy on arrival, or while still in the local town, Durban, before you head to camp.
Choose your camp wisely
There are a number of more rustic and affordable camps, such as Mpila, but make sure if you are with young children that you stick to a fenced camp. This gives you a little more peace of mind and the kids more freedom outdoors. Open vehicle game drives can be arranged at the main camps, and overnight walking safaris can be pre-booked.Older, more adventurous children are thrilled at staying in these tented camps. Although perfectly safe and luxurious, the kids are far closer to nature than a chalet allows, and this is an amazing experience. Lying in bed with the lights out, they will hear the nocturnal scavengers immediately outside the tent, endeavoring to raid the camp bins. Take along a good flashlight and they can pick out hyenas, bushpig and other smaller creatures prowling about in the dark. Be sure to look up at the stars to view the southern constellations on a clear night. Your family vacation to South Africa with kids will be full of animals, exploration and wonderful new experiences.
Michele Wright is a freelance travel writer and a native of South Africa. With family spread across the globe and a deep appreciation for new sights and sounds, travel is in her blood. Michele is mother to two “angelic” boys and blames her hubby for their mischievous genes. You can follow her on Twitter @michcarawright