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My First Safari

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A first hand account by Claudine Bresgi of her daughter’s first safari experience, and their first bush excursion as a young family;

We stop to watch an elephant as he lazily crosses the road. Our young daughter, Mikaylin – just on a year old, is fast asleep in my husband’s arms. As the elephant walks away, she wakes up, spots the giant and lets out an ecstatic squeal of delight. The elephant barely bats an eyelid. And there you have it…. a treasured memory for our daughter (and us), who is jointly dumbfounded and amazed by what she has seen!

New parents are often caught between longing for their old life, and the excitement of watching their toddler grow up. For many, the idea of a safari holiday feels like an impossible dream. With lodges like Madikwe Safari Lodge, taking a toddler on safari is not only a possibility, it’s a must!

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We arrived at Madikwe Safari Lodge, and without skipping a beat, the team took possession of our daughter. Our little girl was presented with her Madikwe Cubz backpack, filled with children’s activities and her very own crayons and goodies. While mom and dad handled check in, a basket of toys magically appeared to keep her entertained…. They worked! Our arrival was to set the tone for the rest of the trip.

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At Lelapa Lodge, all ages are welcome and children are accommodated at every level of the guest experience. From a cot for littler frames, to bunk beds for kids, and a sleeper couch for young teens, all youngsters have their unique and comfortable space.

For young’uns, there is a special Safari Bumble where Field Guides specifically cater to shorter attention spans. During the day, there are an array of activities on offer. A “must-do” is a visit to the Eco House. Filled with all sorts of crafts and ‘creepy-crawlies’, it’s fun for children of all ages.

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A big concern for many moms (and a few dads) is food. Fear not! The Cubz Menu is a combination of healthy fruits, veggies and classic kids favourites. And of course, the chef never says no to a special request from his younger diners.

The pool at Lelapa Lodge has a large shallow end, ideal for shorter kids to move around and play safely (and they are spoiled for choice with the array of pool games bulging out of the pool-side wooden chest of goodies!) Meals are also served here for convenience – why spoil a good thing by interrupting it?

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And when the sun has set, and the stars come out, it’s time for mom and dad. Madikwe’s friendly babysitters are on hand to take care of ‘littel’ies’ while parents enjoy an adult dinner alone (and perhaps long-awaited ‘date night’). They are also happy to entertain kids if they want to head out on a game drive.

Trust me on this one. Despite arriving with a little anxiety as to how our safari would pan out, I left with a sense of peace, and a spirit renewed. And I believe that in the recesses of her enquiring mind, Mikaylin experienced a ‘happy place’ which she will draw on as she gets older.

It’s those family moments that make this journey worthwhile!

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