Best villas in Southern Africa for families and groups

Posted by David Rogers on 7 April 2014 Tags:, , , , , , , ,

Drawing on years of years of experience and what he’s learnt from holidays with two busy boys, David Rogers picks out some of the best villas in Southern Africa for families and groups.

Enjoy the view from your African villa.

Villas are great if you want to share special safari times with your family and close friends (rather than the first-time visitor to Africa in chalet six who wants to be your new best buddy). With a team of dedicated staff at your disposal, you can live the good life, and villas often make good financial sense for groups of five or more. In general, these properties come with it all – they’re fully serviced and have in-house chefs. Meals are often interactive and flexible from picnics to midnight snacks. Find out more about the five villas listed here, as well as a range of others, at www.villasandafrica.com.

Related: Great travel packages for families

Luangwa Safari House

Eastern Zambia

Luangwa Safari House, Zambia

The setting
The villa borders Zambia’s South Luangwa National Park with its wide-open plains, meandering rivers and some of the best leopard viewing in the world.

The vibe
Built from thatch, fallen hardwood trees and a great sense of imagination, it’s the perfect balance between comfort and true bush. No internet, no TV and no sounds but the barking of baboons and birdsong.

The crowd
Make this your bush home – the team has the natural warmth and humour to make everyone, whether English, American, Dutch or South African, laugh out loud and feel very much at ease.

The rooms
Upstairs or downstairs in four double en-suite bedrooms – each open to the outside with views to the trees. One has a copper bath and all are uniquely decorated.

The food
Expect home-made salads, breads, pickles and a lemon poppy seed cake that will have you begging for more. Meals are best enjoyed under the giant ebony trees at the deck, watching elephants come to drink.

Highlights
The house has a vast doorway wide enough for a teenage elephant to pass through. Once inside, the drama of the suspended wooden stairs, giant wrought iron chandelier and triple-volume ceiling will blow you away.

Need to know
The house is unfenced with open balconies and staircases, so it’s not for inquisitive toddlers. It’s closed from mid-January to mid-March. Special rates for SADC passport holders are sometimes available.

Contact
Tel +265-179-4491/5483, www.robinpopesafaris.net.

Ndomo House at Kaya Mawa

Lake Malawi

Ndomo House, Lake Malawi

The setting
Kaya Mawa is on Likoma, the largest island on Lake Malawi. The views over the expansive blue waters are so grand that the villa will quickly have you under its spell.

The vibe
There’s an island feel, so pack sunglasses and swimsuits and let the water wash your troubles away. There’s a barefoot, beach atmosphere and the Malawians you meet everywhere are some of the sunniest people you’ll find in Africa.

The crowd
You can easily imagine sultry models showing their curves for Sports Illustrated on this island. It’s often visited by tourists who come to wash off the dust of their safari experiences in Malawi or nearby Zambia.

The rooms
Take your pick from four bedrooms – three are en-suite. All are wonderfully open and flow onto verandas that overlook a swimming pool and private beach.

The food
Chef Rich Greenhall has worked for Jamie Oliver and learned a thing or two about creating wonderful, easy-eating meals. Make sure you ask him to make chambo (tilapia fish) and chips – it’s a Malawian speciality.

Highlights
The water is clean, fresh and warm – put on a pair of goggles and you’ll feel like you’re in a giant fish tank. The cichlids here occur nowhere else and attract bubble blowers from all over. You can tumble out of your room and see fish right on the shore – no boat required.

Need to know
The village of Likoma Island, which lies a few kilometres away, has a towering cathedral – a replica of the one at Winchester in England – and it’s a vibrant place to visit on a Sunday.

Contact
Tel +265-999-318-360, www.kayamawa.com.

Fitzpatrick’s at Jock

Kruger Park

Fitzpatrick's at Jock, Kruger Park

The setting
In the heart of Big Five country in the rolling hills of southern Kruger and overlooking the Biyamiti River; you’ll struggle to find a better wildlife area.

The vibe
The lodge takes its name from Sir Percy Fitzpatrick, author of the bestselling Jock of the Bushveld. It’s decorated with wagon wheels and memorabilia that recall his intrepid journeys between Lorenco Marques (Maputo) and the mining towns near Barberton in the 1800s.

The crowd
Birding aficionados, pack your Swarovskis and iPad loaded with Roberts Birds of Southern Africa – you’ll start ticking from your veranda. It’s also a great spot for families, with a pool and space for up to six adults and four kids.

The rooms
Sir Percy never had it this good. Three bedrooms are strung along the river and all have air-con, indoor and outdoor showers. The living area has a TV, fireplace and modcons such as a Nespresso machine.

The food
Dine on spicy boerewors and Cajun chicken at a candlelit table under the stars in a traditional reed-walled boma. You’ll be serenaded by the camp choir, which performs for groups who stay for a few nights.

Highlights
Sundowners on a granite koppie are top of the world – and so is the game. Lion, leopard, elephant, wild dog, buffalo and black and white rhino are all on show.

Need to know
The lodge doesn’t have Wi-Fi – but that’s a good thing, right? If you really must get connected (or have a massage), Jock Safari Main Lodge is a short drive away. There’s a spa and gym there too if you need it.

Contact
Tel 041-509-3000, www.jocksafarilodge.com.

Santorini Villa

Coastal Mozambique

Santorini Villa, Mozambique

The setting
The villa is on the mainland a few kilometres north of the town of Vilankulo with sublime, inviting views over the Indian Ocean to Bazaruto Archipelago.

The vibe
With its striking blue and white decor and dazzling views of white sands and blue water, it’s easy to see why this villa has been named after one of Greece’s most famous holiday islands.

The crowd
Bring the family, the friends, the children, the friends’ children … and maybe a few more! This is a big house, after all. And just a two-hour flight from Johannesburg.

The rooms
The house sleeps 10 adults in five bedrooms, or eight adults and six children (there’s a fun rumpus room for the kids with bunk beds). It’s gloriously modern and fresh.

The food
The house has a state-of-the-art kitchen with a team of excellent chefs. Expect delicious crab curries, home-baked Portuguese bread and peri-peri prawns, washed down with 2M beers.

Highlights
The islands, the islands, the islands … you’ll want to stay, snorkel and explore Bazaruto Archipelago for longer than a week. You’ll have a vehicle at your disposal to hit the town, where you’ll find wonderful things to see and do.

Need to know
The islands are a 20-minute boat trip away and you must plan a trip for a sunny day when the snorkelling is at its best. The rates include one of these excursions.

Contact
Tel 011-705-1258, 082-883-3774, www.villasantorini.co.za.

Birkenhead Villa

Southern Cape

Birkenhead Villa, Hermanus

The setting
In the seaside town of Hermanus and looking over Walker Bay with its lob-tailing whales. Plus there are beaches, fynbos-covered mountains and a cliff path to explore. It’s next door to the exceptional Birkenhead House.

The vibe
It’s ornate, gilded and richly colourful (there are crystal chandeliers, gleaming fittings and nudes on the walls), but the down-to-earth, friendly staff makes you feel at home.

The crowd
The house is often used as a private hideaway by the Biden family, who own the Royal Portfolio including neighbouring Birkenhead House.

The rooms
Five upstairs rooms – each with wonderful views and bathrooms – and one downstairs room sleep 12. Downstairs are the dining areas, kitchen and a playroom.

The food
The highly trained chefs prepare exquisite meals in the open-plan kitchen. Kids will love mucking in to help make pizzas.

Highlights
Stars and celebrities have shot Champagne corks aplenty in this delightful spot. The attention to detail and sincere, generous service is exceptional.

Need to know
Whales and fynbos flowers are best from July to September, but for summer sun and beaches visit between November and April. Also don’t miss a chance to visit Gansbaai to cage-dive with its world-famous great white sharks.

Contact
Tel 015-793-3977, www.birkenheadvilla.com.

 

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