A spontaneous and lastminute.com family safari adventure is often how getaways for a few days happen, especially when a gap appears in our kids’ schedule.
Recently returning on a Friday from a 10-day international business trip, I realised that my twins had an open weekend, which is a rarity in terms of their friends’ birthday and sports schedules!
I immediately thought of Marataba – just 3.5 hours from Joburg, it caters perfectly to this type of quick getaway – so long as everyone loves the bush and there is space, we are there.
I contacted the lodge team and luckily we had a Suite open. I landed back in Joburg at 06h30, by noon we were on our way to Marataba, and arrived there in time for the afternoon game drive, on which we joined a family from the United States.
Our safari stop sundowners were served up at the weir, overlooking what must be one of the most picturesque landscapes in our beautiful country. By then the twins had formed a great connection with the other family’s kids, giving me a moment to savour an incredible gin and blue tonic… (No limit to where the gin industry is going!)
On our way back, we drove into the middle of a herd of elephants. We turned off the vehicle lights and engine, allowing the group to pass by… only hearing the crunch of sand as they ambled past and into the night. Needless to say, the kids were a little energised by the experience and had a lot to share back at the Lodge.
On arrival, Simo, manager of the Mack & Madi programme, advised us that there was a pizza-making night planned for the kids, to be followed by a movie. This was the last I saw of them, until taking them to bed at 21h00. In the meantime, I had been able to relax with a glass of red wine and enjoy the company of a lovely couple from Chicago – this was their third safari to Africa (and, of course, their best!).
After a great night’s rest, the twins and I woke at around 7am for a healthy smoothie, before heading out for a Miss Mara water safari and breakfast. En route to the pontoon, we stopped in the Matlabas river, where the kids enjoyed a ‘bush spa’ foot treatment involving little fish nibbling at your toes… An experience for the adventurous!
The water safari was amazing… lots of animals, plenty of laughs, and tons of learning. Returning from the morning’s incredible family safari adventure, I was able to once again hand the twins over to Simo to keep them entertained – be it at the pool, in the Eco Garden, or heading out with Storm, our guide to cast some animal prints.
I took this as an opportunity to sneak in a nap and recharge after all my recent travelling. 15h30 calls for afternoon tea and catching up with the kids, who were full of stories of adventure and excitements. At 16h00 another amazing game drive… It’s wonderful seeing almost all of the Big Five, except for leopard, and going along at our own pace.
We left for home on Sunday after breakfast, getting home mid-afternoon, with enough time to get a little homework in, before passing out. Monday… waking ready and refreshed for the week ahead! Needless to say, this was one of our favourite family safari adventures.
Words: Robert More