After months of lockdown anxiety, everyone in the family can benefit from getting out into the bushveld to recharge.
Situated in the mountainous Welgevonden Game Reserve in Limpopo’s Waterberg region, Tintswalo Family Camp is booked out to groups of 10 and 16 people travelling together, including kids, on a private use basis. The best part is that it’s only a 3-hour drive from Johannesburg.
As no private vehicles are allowed to drive in the reserve, the adventure in this malaria-free paradise starts from the moment you arrive at the main gate. This is where you’ll be met by a ranger and taken to the camp in a 4X4 safari vehicle – always thrilling for the kids!
The set up
The camp has a spacious main lodge and five freestanding luxury units positioned on either side of it. There are two 3-bedroom units (ideal for a family of 6), two 1-bedroom units with an adjoining lounge (granny and grandpa will love this one); and one 2-bedroom unit (ideal for a family of 4). Each unit has air-conditioning, a tea and coffee station, its own verandah, en-suite bathroom, a fireplace, and an outdoor shower.
While everyone can enjoy their privacy in their own unit, all the action really happens in the main lodge, which is totally kid-friendly. This is where you’ll find the communal lounge and dining area, bar and kitchen.
There’s also a huge entertainment room that doubles up as a kids playroom with toys, books, games and more.
A large wooden deck with comfy seating and an outdoor dining area offers the best views of the valley.
A staircase leads off the deck down to an enclosed swimming pool which invites you to relax and linger longer while the kids splash in the water and have fun.
Great news for parents is that you don’t have to cook. Whether you decide to self-cater or not, there’s a camp chef and butler that will prepare and serve delicious family-style meals for you each day. This might be around the fire in the outdoor boma, on the deck, or in the dining room next to the fireplace if the weather turns.
They have a special kids menu offering traditional favourites like chicken strips, fish fingers and mac ‘n’ cheese. There’s even pizza, which they can help make in the boma pizza oven with the chef.
Obviously, game drives are the highlight of any bush trip and your ranger will tailor these to suit your group. This means you can decide when you’d like to go game viewing, and for how long. With two game vehicles, you can even split up – kids go one way, adults the other!
With over 50 different animals including the Big 5, and 300 bird species to spot in the reserve, you definitely won’t be bored. The experienced rangers know the mountainous area like the back of their hand and sightings are frequent, close up and exciting. Of course, there’s nothing like coffee and rusks, or sundowners, in the middle of the bush!
As the camp is protected by electric fencing against predators and dangerous game, kids have the space and freedom to explore the outside areas without you having to worry. They can even ride their bikes (there are scooters and tricycles available for tots in the camp).
There’s also a cool viewpoint overlooking a waterhole you can safely walk to with them for some extra game spotting.
The kids will love taking part in The Little Ranger programme, ideally tailored to kids from the age of 4. On arrival, they’ll each get a Little Ranger goody bag with a compass, binoculars and a work book with colouring pencils. The work book includes checklists, educational stories and activities to teach them more about the wild life, plants and history of the area.
As part of the programme they’re taken on their own game drives and bushwalks by the kid-friendly rangers who will teach them how to track animals as well as some cool survival tricks among other things.
At the end of the stay, they’ll be awarded a certificate of achievement as a junior ranger – something definitely worth framing!
If you have a baby or toddler and need some extra help (just to have a snooze or a game drive), good news is that you can request a trained childminder at an additional charge.
A gift of peace and love
According to Alistair Leuner who oversees Tintswalo safaris, and hosted my trip, the word “tintswalo” means “the intangible feeling of peace, love, gratitude bestowed upon someone that gives you a meaningful and worthy gift”. After just two nights at this magical camp, experiencing the passion its small team of staff put into making your safari dreams come true, I have to agree it’s the stuff family memories are built on.
How much does it cost?
Tintswalo is currently offering a special post-lockdown mid-week rate from R25 000 per night for 10 people, valid until 28 February 2021. This includes accommodation, full board and 2 safari activities a day. It doesn’t include beverages, transfers, or the park entry of R165 per person per day. An additional six guests can be accommodated at an additional rate charged per person per night.
For more information and bookings, visit tintswalo.com.
Content editor and writer on Living & Loving, Sonya has over 25 years experience in the media industry. She edited Living & Loving magazine for six-and-a-half years and is the former editor of Longevity magazine. She’s won numerous media industry awards and is passionate about the health and wellbeing of moms and children.
Outside of work, she enjoys trying out recipes, reading crime mysteries and thrillers, practicing yoga, and exploring new destinations.
Learn more about Sonya Naudé.