Add this five-day adventure to your South African vacation for the opportunity to get up close and personal with wildlife in family-friendly, malaria-free locations. It starts on the Eastern Cape at Shamwari Private Game Reserve, where you'll head out in a 4WD to see Big Five animals such as elephants, lions, and rhinos. Then, you're off to Port Alfred and the luxurious Oceana Beach & Wildlife Reserve. Take guided bush walks or game drives, relax on the reserve's private beach, and enjoy gourmet dinners.


  • See Africa's Big Five game animals in their natural habitat at the Shamwari Reserve
  • Explore local flora and fauna with a family-friendly guided bush walk
  • Keep kids entertained between safaris with ziplines, mazes, and hands-on crafts
  • Swim, surf, and play along the pristine, private beaches of Oceana Reserve

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Shamwari Private Game Reserve, Afternoon Game Drive Eastern Cape Game Reserve
Day 2 Activities at Shamwari: Game Drives & Bush Walks Eastern Cape Game Reserve
Day 3 More Family Fun at Shamwari: Adventure Center & Sanctuaries Eastern Cape Game Reserve
Day 4 Transfer to Port Alfred & Oceana Beach & Wildlife Reserve Port Alfred
Day 5 Depart Port Alfred  Port Alfred 

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Shamwari Private Game Reserve, Afternoon Game Drive

Start spotting wildlife right away with an afternoon game drive (photo courtesy of Shamwari Game Reserve)

Welcome to your South Africa safari adventure! Your destination is the malaria-free Eastern Cape, meeting up with your driver upon arrival to transfer to Shamwari Private Game Reserve. Established in the 1990s, this nearly 100-square-mile (250 sq km) reserve was created to rebuild the once-abundant wildlife of the region and preserve its ecological diversity. You'll be staying at Riverdene Family Lodge, a luxury accommodation located inside the reserve, with expansive views of the African bush and plenty of activities for both adults and kids. 

Depending on your arrival time, you'll have lunch or high tea at the lodge, then start your immersion into wildlife viewing with an afternoon game drive. Head out with your guide, who will take you to the best spots to see Africa's Big Five game animals: the lion, leopard, rhinoceros, African elephant, and buffalo, so-named by hunters who determined these were the most dangerous animals to hunt. Return to the lodge and relax for a bit before dinner, which you can enjoy in the restaurant or outside by the fire. 
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Day 2: Activities at Shamwari: Game Drives & Bush Walks

Kids over four can join exciting game drive adventures with the family (photo courtesy of Shamwari Game Reserve)

Experience the incredible wilderness of Shamwari, making the most of the various activities on offer through the lodge. You can start the day with a game-viewing drive, as mornings are often the best time to see the animals here. Together with your guide, you'll explore via open-topped 4WDs, seeking out the Big Five animals as well as sighting birds of prey, colorful songbirds, and other wildlife such as antelope or the elusive cheetah.

Families with kids under four (not allowed on game drives) might also enjoy a professionally guided bush walk, trekking along the many trails around the reserve as your guides share insight into the varied flora and fauna of the region. You can also visit Shamwari's Wildlife Rehabilitation Center, where they take in sick, injured, or orphaned animals and nurse them back to health. Tour the facility with the center's team members, learning more about local wildlife and the reserve's conservation efforts.

Day 3: More Family Fun at Shamwari: Adventure Center & Sanctuaries

 In between game drives, let the kids run wild in the adventure center (photo courtesy of Shamwari Game Reserve)

Another full day of fun awaits at Shamwari. In addition to more game drives, guided walks, and other outdoor family excursions, you can sign the kids up for the lodge's Kids Safari Adventure Center, which offers a host of activities that include climbing walls, zipline rides, and indoor crafts.

If you've got a mix of older and younger kids, the lodge has an on-site children's coordinator, as well as childminding services for an additional fee—making it easy to take older children along on the game drives while the younger kids relax at the lodge. Families can also visit the Julie Ward or Jean Byrd Centers, both of which provide sanctuary for Africa's big cats alongside educational and informational tours. 

Days 4: Transfer to Port Alfred & Oceana Beach & Wildlife Reserve

Opt for a game drive to spot the reserve's residents (photo courtesy of Oceana Beach & Wildlife Reserve)

You're off to Port Alfred and the incredible Oceana Beach & Wildlife Reserve, a luxurious beach lodge located in a pristine 1,800-acre (740 ha) wildlife sanctuary. You'll make the 1.5-hour transfer with your private driver in the morning, and upon arrival, enjoy a warm welcome from the lodge's staff. Rest and regroup in your tastefully appointed rooms before making the most of all Oceana has to offer.

Home to more than 220 bird and 30 animal species, the reserve's game drives give you a chance to see giraffes, zebras, birds of prey, and more. You can also take a guided bush walk around the area, getting a closer view of South Africa's flora and fauna while an expert guide explains the history behind the reserve and its conservation efforts. If the kids want some space to run and play, spend some time on the white sands of the lodge's 4.5-mile (7 km) private beach, the perfect spot for a picnic, swim, or perhaps a good book!

In the evening, you can expect a fresh, beautifully crafted meal from the lodge's restaurant, and there are both private dining and picnic basket options available as well. Shop at the Curio Shop for souvenirs or gifts for family and friends, indulge at the spa, or watch views of the ocean waves from their Africa-shaped rock swimming pool. The lodge can also arrange off-site adventures, such as a tour of nearby Bathurst or Port Alfred, or a safari excursion to one of the Big Five reserves. 

Day 5: Depart Port Alfred

Head to the private beach before this morning's departure (photo courtesy of Oceana Beach & Wildlife Reserve)

Sadly, your safari adventures come to a close today. Your driver will collect you from the lodge this morning and transport you to your next destination. Safe travels! 

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Map of South Africa Family-Friendly Safari - 5 Days
Map of South Africa Family-Friendly Safari - 5 Days