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South Africa: Safari luxury at River Bend Lodge

When planning your first South African family safari the Eastern Cape reserves are by far the best. Malaria-free they offer the safest option when travelling with children. We spent three wonderful days at the charming River Bend Lodge.

Best safari in Africa

South Africa: Safari luxury at River Bend Lodge
South Africa: Safari luxury at River Bend Lodge

The River Bend Lodge

It was our final destination after driving the glorious Garden Route, which I highly recommend. An hour’s drive from Port Elizabeth it’s perfectly located.

South Africa: Safari luxury at River Bend Lodge

Within Addo Elephant National Park

River Bend is located in a private concession of the world-famous Addo Elephant National Park. For me, the converted farm dating back to 1911 offers the ideal beginners safari for families. The warm friendly welcome on arrival from the General Manager makes you instantly feel at home.

South Africa: Safari luxury at River Bend Lodge

With only eight suites you receive a very intimate and personal safari experience at the lodge. They’re all linked by a path which winds through beautiful, colourful gardens down to the common areas.

South Africa: Safari luxury at River Bend Lodge

The roomy, tranquil suites are decorated in a colonial style with warm and earthy colours – Each with it’s own private veranda.

South Africa: Safari luxury at River Bend Lodge

Perfect for lounging and viewing wildlife, we spotted many a warthog and a very cheeky monkey (erm trying to steal my camera!) whilst enjoying an al fresco cuppa.

South Africa: Safari luxury at River Bend Lodge

We stayed in one of the two interconnecting rooms available, the girls were over the moon having a room which looked exactly like ours. Newlyweds can enjoy a honeymoon suite with its own plunge pool and outside shower. For a more exclusive feel, a kilometre from the main lodge is Long Hope Villa. The private three bedroom villa comes fully staffed with a private chef and game ranger – Next time!

South Africa: Safari luxury at River Bend Lodge

Days on the lodge revolve around the game drives. There are two a day, one very early in the morning and the other takes place late afternoon to early evening. Geared towards when the animals are at their most active. During the day, take a leaf out of the animals book and indulge in your own lazing around.

South Africa: Safari luxury at River Bend Lodge

The common areas at River Bend lodge include a central lounge with a mezzanine library level, an adjoining bar and a formal dining room with a long terrace overlooking a waterhole. Fantastic for animal spotting during breakfast and lunch.

South Africa: Safari luxury at River Bend Lodge

The view of the endless plains with zebras, warthogs and elephants meandering across whilst you’re chomping on a croissant is pure magic. It’s everything I imagined when I use to dream about safari’s as a teenager.

South Africa: Safari luxury at River Bend Lodge
South Africa: Safari luxury at River Bend Lodge

I’m glad to say the day room, home to a large television and a selection of toys and DVDs hardly saw us. The girls were constantly out with their binoculars trying to spot the wildlife or bug hunting in the gardens which was wonderful to see.

South Africa: Safari luxury at River Bend Lodge

Although the same can’t be said for me, I did make use of the spa. Personally, calling it a spa is a bit of stretch. It’s a treatment room where you can indulge in a massage, manicure or pedicure. Nevertheless, my masseuse certainly helped to sort out my knotted shoulders.

South Africa: Safari luxury at River Bend Lodge

For those who like keep to their fitness regime (erm mentioning no names – Mr S!) the swimming pool can help burn off all those yummy calories you’ll be consuming. Bringing me nicely onto…

The FOOD. It’s a huge part of the River Bend experience. Breakfasts are substantial – yoghurts with fresh berries, a large selection of pastries, jams, cheeses, fruit platters and fresh juices or a hot breakfast cooked just the way you like it. Mine was always two poached eggs on the tastiest and crispiest hash browns.

South Africa: Safari luxury at River Bend Lodge

When on an early morning 6am game drive, breakfast is served on the plains. I’m talking Amarula spiked coffee, hot chocolates for the kids and delicious African cakes – Living the safari dream.

Classic French cuisine is served in the evening, complimented by some great South African wines. With a choice of three or four dishes for each course we always had plenty of choice. I loved the way the staff always checked with the girls what they’d prefer to eat for their next meal. It made them feel very special indeed.

South Africa: Safari luxury at River Bend Lodge

I was a huge fan of the afternoon tea too served in the lounge before the second game drive of the day. Delicious cake and a cup of steaming rooibos, the perfect way to prepare yourself for a 4WD safari.

South Africa: Safari luxury at River Bend Lodge

The guides are brilliant with children and make them feel very special. On their first drive they received a goody backpack with an animal workbook, crayons and plenty of other things to entertain for those ‘we’ve been driving round for an hour and only seen a dung beetle’ moment. Thankfully we didn’t have many of those.

South Africa: Safari luxury at River Bend Lodge

They also enjoyed their own adventures with the guide without the olds cramping their style. Such a brilliant way to capture their enthusiasm and excitement. For those with very young children the lodge can also provide babysitting so parents can still enjoy a drive.

South Africa: Safari luxury at River Bend Lodge

River Bend Lodge is a great choice for an intro to a family safari. The incredibly personal service from the ever smiling, enthusiastic staff made this a special end to our ten-day South African adventure.

TRAVEL TOOLKIT TO HELP PLAN YOUR TRIP

Where did you dream of travelling to as a youngster? Let me know in the comments box below.

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Below are more posts from my South African adventures:

South Africa: 5 reasons why it’s great for families
South Africa: Exploring the Cape Winelands with Kids
South Africa: The Cape Peninsula Tour
South Africa: Lunch in Franschhoek at La Petite Ferme
South Africa: 7 Tips for an Incredible Family Safari
South Africa: The Elephant Sanctuary, Plettenberg Bay
South Africa: The Pot Luck Club in Cape Town
Top 5 stops on the Garden Route in South Africa
10 reasons why Cape Town stole my heart

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South Africa: Safari luxury at River Bend Lodge

Full Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links whereby I may make a small commission at no extra cost to you. This helps with the costs of running my blog so I can keep my content free for you. Thanks as always for your support! See my disclosure policy here.

12 Comments

  • Laura Bailey 23rd January 2018 at 1:09 pm

    Looks like a fantastic lodge, perfect for the adventure of safari!

    • Sima Sthanakiya 29th January 2018 at 4:51 pm

      It was a great stay Laura. It’s a bit of minefield when you book a safari as you have so many options nowadays. This place was perfect for our first trip.

  • Joy 23rd January 2018 at 8:04 pm

    WOW south Africa really is the must visit destination this year. Your pictures are beautiful

    • Sima Sthanakiya 29th January 2018 at 4:50 pm

      I know a lot of people going this year too. Thank you Joy x

  • Claire at Tin Box Traveller 24th January 2018 at 11:31 pm

    This sounds just incredible and a great family experience. I love the attention paid to the kids and getting them involved. Thanks fo sharing this on #MondayEscapes!

    • Sima Sthanakiya 29th January 2018 at 4:49 pm

      One of best family experiences to date Claire. I can’t wait to go again (someday!).

  • Katy Sterm 2nd February 2018 at 9:18 pm

    Wow this is incredible. We did a safari pre kids and it was one of the best and most memorable holidays ever ( the fact we missed our flights because I was shopping in duty free….but we won’t go there.) Mr S would love to take the kids one day ….. beautiful post x

    • Sima Sthanakiya 2nd February 2018 at 10:40 pm

      Thank you! I love the missed flight story Katy – Me too pre kids. A safari is such a dream holiday with the kids.

  • Claudia Brown 6th February 2018 at 12:03 pm

    It sounds good.Perfect Venue and a fantastic lodge to spend some quality time.To be honest a family safari is a perfect safari.

    • Sima Sthanakiya 7th February 2018 at 11:38 am

      Claudia it was an incredible experience, especially seeing it through the children’s eyes.

  • Andrea Lewis 20th February 2018 at 10:37 am

    Love this post, South Africa is Such a beautiful place, and River Bend Lodge is an amazing and perfect lodge for Safari and the sights are fabulous

    • Sima Sthanakiya 20th February 2018 at 11:00 pm

      Thanks Andrea. Glad you enjoyed the read. Have you ever been on safari?

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    I'm Sima, join me as I explore, experience and eat my way around the globe. Inspiring you to escape the everyday through my adventures... Read More

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