Southern Sands Eco Lodge – family friendly accommodation near Hoedspruit, South Africa

  • March 21, 2018

As we approached the gates to Southern Sands Eco Lodge, a giraffe ambled through the bush, reminding us this wasn’t a regular play date. I first met Joanne over a year ago when I taught her eldest son swimming back in the UK. We shared a spirit for adventure as, at the time, they were planning a move to South Africa to set up family friendly accommodation near Hoedspruit, whilst we were moving to Bangalore, India. However, little did I realise that our paths would cross a year later with an opportunity to take their Landrover Defender across Southern Africa.

family friendly accommodation near Hoedspruit

The family behind Southern Sands Eco Lodge

Rick and Jo are one hell of an inspirational unit. Dad was a civil engineer and Mum a Science teacher. With their 2 young boys and 2 dogs, they sold up their comfortable lives in the UK to set up an eco lodge deep in the South African bush. Through hard work and determination, they’ve overcome visa problems, disloyal builders, numerous delays, the loss of their beloved family dog, scorpions in their home and spitting cobras. But all these obstacles have only served to bond the family tighter and spurred them on to create something quite incredible.

family friendly accommodation near Hoedspruit

You can follow their adventures on Facebook and Instagram.

The Eco Lodge

Southern Sands Eco Lodge is only 45 minutes from cosmopolitan Hoedspruit (with playgrounds aplenty) and just over an hour to the gates of Kruger National Park. Yet, sat on the banks of the Oliphants River, it feels a million miles away from anywhere; with the call of hyenas in the distant hills warning visitors that you are not quite alone.

family friendly accommodation near Hoedspruit

With just two glamping safari tents, this is the place to step away from the tourist trail and breathe. Each tent comes with a large bed, ensuite (including bush shower under the stars) and large braii (cooking) area. The tents are spacious enough to fit two campbeds for children and all beds come equipped with mosquito nets. I recommend keeping the front canvas of the tent open (with the netting shut), so you can watch the colours of the bush change as the sun rises in the morning.

family friendly accommodation near Hoedspruit

But what makes this place extra special, is the family friendly vibe. Kids will love cooling off in the pool at the lappa, and there are loads of toys to play with. Then right outside the gates, you can take a short game drive to meet the local residents and even get out of the car (which is forbidden at the majority of parks in South Africa).

family friendly accommodation near Hoedspruit
family friendly accommodation near Hoedspruit

What to take with you

Meals are available on request. Ensure you book them in at least 24 hours in advance. However, with a large braii area for cooking, we suggest stocking up with food and drink in Hoedspruit and cooking for yourselves.

family friendly accommodation near Hoedspruit

Ensure you take swim gear for use in the pool. Mosquito repellent is a must after 4pm and ensure the children wear covered shoes in the evening.

As with all remote travel throughout sub-Saharan Africa, pack a good medical kit for all the family.

How to book

You can book through their Facebook page.

Kids Love Travel also has some alternative child-friendly hotels in South Africa

Where to next

For us, Southern Sands Eco Lodge was the start of our overland African adventures and our few days were busily spent prepping the Landrover Defender; our home for the next few months. Next stop was Kruger and Richard escorted us into the park to act as our guide for the first morning. Richard and Joanne have a fantastic knowledge of the Kruger and it’s worth picking their brains for tips before venturing there.

family friendly accommodation near Hoedspruit

For all your questions answered about our overland travels through sub-Saharan Africa in a Land Rover, check out our post… READ – Africa with kids FAQ: all you need to about our overlanding family adventures

Disclaimer: TraveLynn Family were offered a three night complimentary stay at Southern Sands Eco Lodge. However, these are all my own thoughts and words.


family friendly accommodation near Hoedspruit
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Blog Comments

What a lovely place to start your adventure. However, bit concerned to hear about scorpions in the house and spitting cobras.

It really is an incredible place they’ve built!

I love stories like this, that you met at swimming classes in UK and now you’re driving their Land Rover across Africa! The eco lodge sounds like a perfect place to start your adventure, and a great place to remember for an eventual trip to South Africa. #farawayfiles

Isn’t it funny how things work out sometimes?

What a wonderful introduction to Africa. Sounds as if the setting up of the eco lodge has been something of a trial but hopefully now it will go from strength to strength #FarawayFiles

OH and I’m sure it will and more and more travellers hear about it. A great start to our adventures! ๐Ÿ™‚

Sounds like a refreshingly different place to stay. I’ll have to read more about them. #FarawayFiles

Most definitely! It’s amazing and truly inspiring what they have built.

This looks wonderful, Lynn, and I too love the story about you meeting in the UK and now here you are, staying in their fabulous lodge and about to embark on an African adventure. So excited for you. Thanks for sharing on #FarawayFiles

Thanks Clare. It’s amazing what some friendships lead to ๐Ÿ™‚

This is truly an adventure! Iโ€™ve made many swimming lesson friends over the years, but never any that have moved to exotic places… what am I doing wrong?! LOL!

Ha! Obviously you needed to be going to swimming classes in East Kent ๐Ÿ˜‰


Ian (Imps and Ramblers)

That truly looks like a once in a lifetime opportunity! So cool!

Thanks Ian! We’re certainly loving the adventure. Thanks for reading ?

This sounds like a lovely place to stay with kids. I travelled a lot in Africa pre-kids and love it – I can’t wait to take my little one there! #fearlessfamtrav

I hope you get to return with your little one! Where abouts did you travel pre-kids?

Wow – this looks incredible. The lodge is lovely and how fantastic that you can get out of the vehicles. I’d love to return to South Africa with the kids in tow and this looks like the perfect place! #fearlessfamtrav

Such a wonderful place. To be able to get out of the car is such a rare treat.

What an amazing family run this place and what a truly fantastic place to visit- it looks really wonderful. I’ve loved South Africa the couple of times I have been but haven’t yet had the opportunity to take my children – I would love to though! #fearlessfamtrav

I hope you get to return with your kids soon! I’m sure they’d love it!

Amazing ! I need to save this ! The boys are desperate to go on safari and this seems perfect and intimate also. What a fab experience for you x

This is the perfect place for kids in South Africa! I’m sure your boys would love it.

This sounds like a perfect place to stay! I hope they have much success with their venture #fearlessfamtrav

Fantastic place indeed! I’m sure they will make it a huge success.

What a cool story! And that is awesome that they were able to take that leap of faith. It sounds like a nice place to stay. If we’re ever in Africa, I will look them up. #FearlessFamilyTravel

They are such an awesome couple. Amazing inspiration!

An inspirational story!!! it is the stuff that many of us only dream of. And so cool that they have lent you their Landrover! This is a place that we would definately love to stay should we be so lucky to get to Africa. #fearlessfamtrav

Sounds absolutely amazing!! I cant wait to follow your adventures! Enjoy the experience with your family xx #fearlessfamtrav

Thanks Sam! It really is a trip of a lifetime for us ๐Ÿ™‚

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