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We love a good gift guide. Especially one created WITH the kids and seeing as we've just celebrated Ava's 4th birthday we thought it would be a great time to share all the presents she's been enjoying and playing with the most! Maybe her TOP 10 will provide a few gift...

Ava’s top 10: gift ideas for 4-year-olds

We love a good gift guide. Especially one created WITH the kids and seeing as we've just celebrated Ava's 4th birthday we thought it would be a great time to share all the presents she's been enjoying and playing with the most! Maybe her TOP 10 will provide a few gift...

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Mini-Break | Family “glamping” in Dinokeng Nature Reserve

by | Oct 8, 2019 | Family Travel, Places we go | 4 comments

For the longest time, the girls have asked to go camping. Somewhere warm where they can see wild animals, specifically a lion, and sleep under the stars! Doesn’t that sound amazing? This was a request both Mr.Perfect and I were eager to make happen but with a touch of luxury, of course. Family “glamping”, just 40 minutes outside of Pretoria in the Dinokeng Nature Reserve sounded perfect!

Where did we stay?

It took a bit of effort but, we finally found Thorn Tree Bush Camp. A 4 star, (although I would rate it as 3 star) self-catering tented campsite situated within the Dinokeng Game Reserve. (This is one of the VERY few tented accommodation options with a big family tent that can fit a family of 5.)

Best Family Camping South Africa

We stayed in the Umbrella Thorn Haak-en-Steek family tent, conveniently situated right by the playground. The girls met loads of new friends and could safely play within sight while we relaxed too.

Family Tent For CampingFamily Tented Bush Accommodation

The tents are spacious, well kept and clean. Fresh linen and towels are provided too. The private bathroom is incredible with an open roof shower and the bunk beds were a dream-come-true for Eliana and Lia. Ava slept on a stretcher especially provided to us upon request.

Glamping In South AfricaDinokeng Family Accommodation Options

Our tent (like all the others available) was fully equipped with everything we needed as well as our own private fire pit and kitchenette.

Thorn Tree Bush Camp Tented Camp Site

The pool and lounge area also proved a HIT in the heat and we enjoyed our first swim of summer.

Thorn Tree Bush Camp Dinokeng

Experience the Dinokeng Nature Reserve with…

Early morning Bush Walks

Get to see animals and plants often overlooked when driving, in a 2-hour guided walk through the bush. Just remember the snacks, your water bottle, and sunscreen.  (No under 10-year-olds).

Daylight Game Drives

Take a more leisurely approach with a 3-hour game drive through the Dinokeng Game Reserve in search of the big five!

– African elephants, Buffalo, both Black and white Rhinos, lions and leopards as well as other species such as rhinoceros beetles, leopard tortoise, zebra, giraffe, hippos and many more. The wonderful tour guides are a wealth of knowledge sharing interesting facts and stories about bushveld life. Remember to pack drinks, snacks and sun protection (No under 3-year-olds).

Best Family Outings Pretoria 1

Add some EXTRAS!

A Bush Breakfast in addition to an early morning Game Drive or Bush Walk maybe?

Start your day with breakfast under a majestic Jacket Plum Tree while sipping on “camp coffee or tea”. Unfortunately, no children under 10 years allowed.

Top up your late afternoon Game drive with some Bush Sun-downers

Once again this is only for the 10 years+ crowd.

You can BOOK any of the activities mentioned above online at Thorn Tree Bush Camp ahead of your stay.

In Nature With Kids

More things to do in and around the Dinokeng Nature Reserve include:

Cold craft-beer and lunch at Arlington Brewery & Cidery while the littles play. Hot Air ballooning, quad rentals, an outing to Mystic Monkeys & Feathers and the list continues. You’ll find more information for all these activities (plus a bunch of others) in the carefully compiled visitor’s guide Thorn Tree Bush Camp has put together. Just look for the file inside your tent.

The Perfect South African Picnic

We, however, didn’t need to do any of the above…

The Dinokeng Self-drive Route is the perfect family activity. Simply buy a self-drive permit and you’ll receive an easy to follow map. Now view the park at your own leisure.

Self Drive At Dinokeng Game Reserve

* Photo not representative of how the girls sat while driving. Rest assured we did adhere to good road safety and reserve regulations.

We kicked off every day with a quick drive before brunch and went out again after our afternoon nap.

See Wildlife In PretoriaDinokeng Game Reserve Wildlife See Zebras At The Dinokeng Nature Reserve

We stayed on the black route (except for that one wrong turn – we made it through, and so did our “mom wagon”.) When the girls got tired we could head back home and we never needed to worry about disturbing others when Ava squealed at the sight of every real-life Sophie la Girafe!

Wildlife At Dinokeng Game Reserve

We saw some incredible animals and yes, even a lion – just look closely.

Lion At Dinokeng Game Reserve

* Thankfully we had the Fujinon XF 50-140mm F2.8 Lens to get these incredible shots. (Review to follow shortly).

We fell in love with Africa and our family all over again…

We came prepared – food, drinks, and snacks planned and bought beforehand. Days were relaxed as we prepared meals together, cooking on an open fire. We swam and napped. Had a picnic, read under the trees, played in sand, showering under the stars and ended each day with hot chocolate, smores, and a crackling fire!

How To Make Campfire SmoresBest family vacations South Africa

We completely forgot about our phones and at night the roar of lions, not far away, lulled us to sleep.

Family Camping At Dinokeng Nature Reserve

Being outside, hearing nothing but nature and appreciating the incredible wildlife at our doorstep was the perfect city escape for our busy family and we’ve actually booked our next stay already! That’s how good it was.

Best Family Travel Locations In South AfricaPlaces to visit with kids South Africa

See you soon Thorn Tree Bush Camp!

Family Glamping In South Africa

Book your own weekend away at Thorn Tree Bush Camp online at and remember to ask for the Umbrella Thorn Haak-en-Steek family tent if you want to enjoy the same accommodation as we did.

Bushveld Accommodation Close To Pretoria

* Thorn Tree Bush Camp also offer Day Visitor Guided Safari Excursions 

“Join us for day trip from Pretoria – package includes a bush fire-side coffee upon arrival,  then climb onboard  our open game vehicle for your 3-hour game drive, taking you through the Dinokeng Game Reserve’s landscapes –  in search of the big five game.”Family Travel Dinokeng Game Reserve

SPECIAL THANK YOU to Fuji Film SA for once again lending us the Fuji Film X-T100 with a Fujinon XF 50-140mm F2.8 Lens. This camera is still our number one family and travel camera – Read why HERE; IS THE FUJIFILM X-T100 A GOOD CAMERA?

Disclaimer: We were NOT hosted for this stay.


  1. Ashley

    Wow, that sounds like the perfect holiday. There should be more family friendly glamping spots.

    • Mari-Louise

      I completely agree Ashley. We are on the lookout for more but this one was amazing and we can’t wait to go again.

  2. Alexandra Roessingh

    I absolutely love your blog! Just a comment from your reference to Dinokeng …. There is a big misconception that the Dinokeng Game Reserve is Dinokeng ! If you would like to visit Dinokeng (280 000 hectares) and not just the Dinokeng Game Reserve (21 000 hectares). We have over 120 fabulous activities and of course, accommodation too, in Dinokeng ! Please see here ….

    • Mari-Louise

      Wow Alexandra THANK YOU so much for sharing. We will definitely have a look, it truly is a massive and beautiful part of our country. Appreciate your comment so much.


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