Yearn to break away and spend some quality time with the family? Escape to these cosy family-friendly stays and bond with your loved ones away from everyday distractions. By Gaynor Siljeur

Mosu Lodge, Mokala National Park

With rich wildlife, a landscape of koppieveld and many a camelthorn tree, Mokala National Park captures much of the Kalahari’s beauty without being quite as far removed. A blessing when you’re travelling with kids.

Check into a self-catering family bungalow for a relaxing breakaway. The bungalow sleeps two adults and two kids and has an open-plan kitchen. The lodge’s lapa, lounge and entertainment area allow for the whole family to unwind together. There is even a pool for those hot Northern Cape days.

Explore this off-the-beaten-track park and wander amongst ancient camelthorns (some even 400 years old) when you book a guided drive (minimum age: 6). Keen twitchers will be delighted with the rich birdlife encountered along the way, like cisticolas, warblers and flycatchers. You may even be spoilt with a sighting of the striking crimson-breasted shrike.

Good to know: Due to the layout of the camp at Mosu Lodge, guests are not able to park their vehicles next to their chalets. Parking is in front of reception and baggage trollies are provided to transport guest luggage.

Cost: R1,312 for 1-2 people a night, R364 an extra adult, R182 an extra child, maximum 4.

Contact: SANParks Central Reservation Offices at +27 (0)12 428 9111 or book online.

Picture courtesy of SANParks

Vrolijkheid Nature Reserve

Nestled in the beautiful Breede River Valley lies the aptly-named Vrolijkheid Nature Reserve. Who wouldn’t feel cheerful when faced with a weekend in this serene setting? Situated just outside the small and tranquil town of McGregor, about 200km from Cape Town, the reserve is an ideal space to escape busy city life.

Vrolijkheid has five comfortable self-catering units, each with a fully equipped kitchen, four bedrooms and two bathrooms. Two of the cottages, Rooikat and Luiperd, even have a hot tub. Swap  stories at the outside braai area or soak away the week’s stresses while listening to the quiet sounds of the reserve.

The reserve is home to Robertson Karoo vegetation, with dwarf trees and shrubs, birds, antelope and small predators. Explore your surroundings on the 3km Heron Trail, which is easy enough for the whole family to enjoy. Be sure to pack your binoculars as the trail passes two dams, each with a bird hide. If you’re lucky, you might catch a glimpse of the rare Robertson dwarf chameleon and a klipspringer or two.

Good to know: Fuel and supplies are available in the nearby towns of Robertson and McGregor.

Cost: R1,200 a night during off-peak season, R2,000 a night during peak season. R380 for an additional person per night (maximum 8)

Contact: CapeNature at +27 (0)21 483 0190 or book online.

Picture by Riaan Vermeulen

Also read: CapeNature celebrates 20 years of conserving nature

Agulhas National Park

Go where the Atlantic and Indian oceans meet! Getting a family picture at the cairn that marks the southernmost tip of Africa is a must. Kids will enjoy a visit to the lighthouse, where just over 70 steps lead to the top and breathtaking views.

Last month saw the unveiling of a large map of Africa in the lighthouse precinct. The map measures 1.8m from top to bottom and shows the continent’s mountains and rifts in raised profile on the ground.

Agulhas Rest Camp has five family cottages, each with two en-suite bedrooms, a fully equipped kitchen and an open plan lounge area. There is a patio with barbeque facilities – ideal to sit outside and get lost in the stunning ocean views.

Your family can experience the park’s coastal fynbos, birdlife and fascinating history on one of several excellent hiking trails. The Rasperpunt Hiking Trail comes highly recommended.

Good to know: Keys must be collected and returned at the park reception located opposite the lighthouse.

Cost: R2,179 for 4 people a night

Contact: SANParks Central Rservations at +27 (0)12 428 9111 or book online.

Also read: Top 5 things to do in Agulhas National Park

Picture courtesy of SANParks

Bhubesi Camp, Hlane Royal National Park

Want a bush breakaway with your family but don’t want big crowds? Visit Hlane Royal National Park, home to the largest herds of game in Eswatini (Swaziland) and surrounded by veld and lush greenery. You will also find four of the Big Five in the Kingdom’s largest protected area.

Overnight at one of just six family self-catering cottages in Bhubesi Camp, situated along the green banks of the Muluzane River. Each of the cottages consists of two bedrooms with en-suite bathrooms, a well-equipped kitchen and an open-plan lounge-diner with inside fireplace. Take advantage of the private outside braai area for some good times and the stories that come with sitting around the campfire.

Hlane can be explored in your own vehicle or on a guided game drive (minimum age: 6).

Good to know: Visitors have to check in at Ndlovu Camp (14km away) with at least 30 minutes’ time left to drive to Bhubesi Camp. Movement to/from Bhubesi Camp is not permitted after dark.

Cost: R1,060 for two people, R1,350 for three people and R1,640 for four people (maximum 4).

Contact: Big Game Parks Central Reservation office at +268 2528 3943/4 for more information. Make a booking online or email [email protected]

Picture courtesy of Big Game Parks

Also read: Enchanting forest stays