22 Nov
A giraffe at Nambiti Private Garden Reserve.

Ndaka Safari Lodge in Nambiti caters for children and has that personal touch that makes  all the difference when you’re in need of a relaxing family bush break

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Spending time in the bush is always a great idea. Apart from giving you a much-needed break it also puts you back in touch with nature and reminds you to appreciate the beautiful wildlife we are so lucky to be surrounded by.

Nambiti Game Reserve is just 2,5 hours’ drive away, a 22 000-acre private Big Five reserve with nine lodges – catering for a variety of holidaymakers. If you feel there’s a lack of affordable, child-friendly lodges around – here’s the perfect spot for you. I recently spent a weekend at Ndaka with my parents who were visiting from Norway, and my seven-year-old daughter. We all agreed the personal touch, along with home-made food and child-friendly facilities and staff, ticked all the boxes for us.

Five years ago Tracey and Mark Marshall, who wanted to target South African families with young children, opened Ndaka Safari Lodge. The fully fenced lodge consists of seven luxury safari-tented suites, three luxury double-tented safari suites, and three comfy lodge rooms in the original African farmstead. The beautiful indigenous garden has a grassed lawn for outdoor games to be played on, as well as a pool with a beach.

Game drives are a central part of any safari, and at Ndaka even those aged four years and under are welcome. “Having things like car seats in the game viewing vehicles, high chairs in the dining room and a playground makes the stay so much more comfortable and enjoyable for the parents,” says Tracey. “We’ll soon be building an indoor playroom, a lounge for the teens and a gym. We are also busy with a trail path within our fenced camp for guests to walk and run on.”

The motivated staff at Ndaka know guests by name and go out of their way to make you feel welcome. “Team Ndaka is and always has been our greatest asset. Even from our very humble beginnings, guests kept returning because of affordability but most importantly because of our people. We value them and keep empowering them,” says Tracey. “We close the lodge for a night every few weeks so the team can have a well-deserved break to re-energise, play soccer, go on a game drive and braai together.”

Behind an inspired team, you’ll always find passionate owners. Tracey and Mark – with their sons Duncan and Matt – dreamt of owning a piece of Nambiti for years, and eventually left optometry and sold their family home in Pietermaritzburg to make it happen. Although stressful, their choice has brought huge rewards. “It’s incredibly satisfying knowing that we have grown Ndaka from a very modest old farmhouse into a beautiful safari getaway where so many families can connect without the distractions of everyday life. It’s also so wonderful to see and hear of so many happy and appreciative guests who keep returning, the most a couple has visited is 17 times in five years,” smiles Tracey. “And of course, nothing is more heart-warming than seeing our team’s personal growth.”

The food at Ndaka just adds to the package of a perfect home away from home. “We have chosen not to be star rated. We would rather delight our guests by exceeding their expectations. We keep it simple and serve healthier, less rich, South African meals that offer the whole family choice while keeping them child-friendly,” says Tracey, who always looks at the weather forecast before planning tomorrow’s menu.

Surrounded by the historical battlefields, guests can also delve into the past by taking a guided tour. Keeping family and affordability a priority, kids under four stay for free at Ndaka, and there are special rates for those aged four to 12 as well as teens aged 13 to 16.

036 940 0087

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