The December school holidays are looming. It’s an exciting time for children, but we parents are possibly not quite as thrilled! We have the unenviable challenge of keeping our children occupied in healthy and happy ways for six long weeks.
Our own parents definitely had it a lot easier – although they probably won’t admit it! Less than a generation ago, in the pre-internet and online gaming days, children played outside. They built forts and rode bikes. Family holidays in the summer meant long, warm days of running barefoot on soft grass and going for walks. Of skimming stones in the lake and sitting round a camp fire listening to the crickets chirping.
We need to introduce our own children to these simple pleasures. Let them discover for themselves all the fascinating wonders nature has to offer. In America, there is actually a growing panic about how much time children spend indoors. So much so, in fact, that they’ve actually developed a name for this crisis: Nature Deficit Disorder. Richard Louv has even written a book about it, called Last Child In The Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature Deficit Disorder. In it, he quotes a child who said, “I like to play indoors better ’cause that’s where all the electrical outlets are.”
Instead of experiencing life from the other side of a screen, let’s give our children the chance to escape from their virtual world and into the real one.
Morning Sun Is The Ideal Nature Holiday Destination
Morning Sun Nature Reserve is situated close to Louis Trichardt in the heart of the Soutpansberg Mountains in the Northern Limpopo Province. The Reserve is registered as a National Heritage Site (No.89) because it is a prime example of the unique biodiversity of the Soutpansberg Mountains. This makes Morning Sun the perfect place to enjoy a back to nature family holiday. In fact, it’s been described by one of our enamoured staff as “a natural botanical garden; a paradise for birding and butterfly viewing.”
This special place captivates the hearts of everyone who visits – even die-hard city slickers come away with a new appreciation for our eco-policies and tireless nature conservation efforts. When exposed to the magnificence of our surroundings, the trappings of modern life, such as television and Wi-Fi, suddenly seem insignificant beside the humbling beauty of nature.
We offer a host of activities, all of which take advantage of our magnificent natural setting. Walking trails, archaeological ruins and birdwatching and butterfly hotspots mean there’s something for everyone.
Highlights At Morning Sun
One of the highlights of the Morning Sun experience is the ever-popular Children’s Walk. This two-hour walk through nature combines education with fun. Children learn how the local Venda people use plants, insects and spiders for medicine and food. They also look for and identify animal spoor. As a souvenir of their walk, children make a Plaster of Paris mould of an animal spoor. They can then take this home with them.
We also have many other guided walks, as well as scenic drives, which the whole family can enjoy together. One of the most popular is the nature walk to the Mashovela Rock Pool. This is one of the most sacred of all the sites for the Venda people. This beautiful spot has a rich and fascinating cultural history and is a definite must-do.
We also have a large variety of other wildlife, big and small, many very rare and endangered, sheltering in the bush. Our reserve is a biodiversity hotspot, sustaining our wildlife in a unique natural botanical garden, including 370 species of indigenous trees and a large number of plant species unique to our region. For this reason, Morning Sun Nature Reserve is a paradise for birding and butterfly viewing.
If you don’t fancy a walk, we have two drives we can highly recommend. Our panoramic Sundowner Drive takes you to the ruins of an old Venda village. It also includes a stop to admire the view of the Big Waterfall. Finally, it finishes with a short walk to the historically significant Baobab tree. Our other relaxing and scenic drive takes you along the Soutpansberg Mountain plateau. You end up at the fascinating Archaeological Site. Here, you can delve a little deeper into the history of the Venda people. This is also a great drive for bird watchers, and you should see many of the over 500 species we have in and around the Reserve.
We have a variety of accommodation at Morning Sun Nature Reserve, ranging from more luxurious lodge accommodation to self-catering cottages and our bush camp.
Especially for the December school holidays, we’ve introduced a wonderful, three-night family package. It’s crammed full of really fun activities the whole family can do together. The package includes activities such as movie night, bread or pizza baking, beading, hiking, swimming at the lodge pool, drives and cycling (bring your own bikes).
- 3 nights’ accommodation at Mashovhela Bush Lodge
- All activities as per programme details
- All meals
- All entrance fees on tour
- A conservancy fee of R50 per adult and R30 per child under 12 years.
- Optional short visit to the local Venda village (gratuities not included, but would be welcomed).
- Weather permitting option : one FREE Hammock camp overnight – including Bush braai Dinner and Breakfast (minimum of 4 persons, book on arrival at reception)
Why Family Holidays In Nature Are So Amazing
Family holidays in general have a host of benefits for children, and you can read more about that in this article on our website. But there are numerous studies showing the significant benefits to children of family holidays where they can be outside in nature.
In a report by the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, experts say that contact with nature has a “crucial and irreplaceable role in brain development.” It also offers children unique opportunities for “inciting engagement, risk-taking, discovery, creativity, mastery and control, strengthening sense of self, inspiring basic emotional states including sense of wonder, and enhancing psychological restoration, which are suggested to influence positively different aspects of cognitive development.”
When you expose children to nature, they play more creatively This is because they use all their senses, not just sight and sound. Interestingly, studies show that children who spend more time playing in nature form more friendships based on resourcefulness and inventiveness, rather than physical prowess. Exposure to nature also helps children concentrate more effectively and lessens stress, depression and aggression.
Enjoying Nature’s Classroom
When children actively learn when out in nature they don’t get tired in the same way they do in a classroom. According to the Attention Restoration Theory, urban environments require what’s called directed attention. This forces us to ignore distractions, which is actually exhausting for our brains. In natural environments, we practice an effortless type of attention known as soft fascination. This creates feelings of pleasure instead of fatigue.
Author Richard Louv, whom we mentioned earlier, believes nature creates a unique sense of wonder for kids that no other environment can provide. Everyday phenomena that occur naturally in nature inspire children to questions about the earth and the life that it supports.
With all the benefits associated with being outside in nature, a nature getaway at Morning Sun is the perfect family holiday this December. Contact us today for more information or to make a booking.