Kalahari Resorts: A Piece of Africa Close to Home

Kalahari Resorts is one of America’s largest indoor water parks, blending family entertainment with the essence of Africa. Here’s everything you need to know about this action-packed spot.

African Inspiration

Kalahari is privately owned and operated by the Nelson family from Wisconsin, who 17 years ago had a dream to create an African-themed water park inspired by their trips to Africa. Kalahari is built on the foundation of family, as the resort is a place to spend time with loved ones. The message for these resorts is, “One World.” Every year the Nelson family travels to Africa in search of new experiences and original art to bring back to their resorts. You can see handpicked African pieces by the family scattered throughout their properties. The Nelson family says, “Our greatest joy is discovering new ways to introduce our guests to the spirit of Africa.”

Location, Location, Location

The resort chain has five locations throughout the country: Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin; Sandusky, Ohio; Poconos Mountains, Pennsylvania; and Round Rock, Texas. The Poconos location has the largest indoor water park at 220,000 square feet.


The African-themed slides, rides and games are available both indoors and outdoors, and the water is always kept at a pleasant 84 degrees. Some awesome attractions are the Elephant trunk, which sends you through 270 feet of twisting slides. The Tanzanian Twister whips you around in a funnel at up to 40 miles per hour and then plops you into the water below. The Screaming Hyena is for the serious adrenaline junkies only. The ride starts 60 feet above the water park and is a free fall for riders down a slide reaching up to 25 miles per hour. There’s also Flowrider, which is a surfing simulator, lazy river, swim-up bar and indoor and outdoor spas. In the summer months, there’s an outside water park with a large pool, sundeck and slides.

Scheduled Fun

Events and activities are scheduled throughout the day, from cupcake wars to cookie decorating and face and finger painting. For the older kids and adults there’s the Arena, which is a virtual-reality experience allowing guests to get inside of the game and take on a new identity. It is a free-roaming game for up to six people and feels like real life, but the minimum age is 10. Egyptian-themed escape rooms are also a popular attraction at each resort. The Poconos location offers an outside experience called the Gorilla Grove Treetop Adventure with ropes courses and zip lines. Hundreds of arcade games are available in the the Big Game Room, which is part of the indoor theme park. There are plenty of opportunities to win tickets and prizes.

Room Types for Families

There are many different options for families of all sizes to choose from during their stay. For the bigger families there are suites with multiple rooms and beds ranging from a five-bedroom family suite to a room with two beds. The Whirlpool Suite has a king-size bed, whirlpool tub and a private balcony. For a family of four, there’s a Kids Bunk Room that features a queen-size bed, safari-painted bunk beds and a twin-size pullout couch.

Dining Options

Each resort location has 10 dining options for guests, most are the same among the three locations. Some of the same restaurants include: the Double Cut Charcoal Grill/Liquor Bar, Great Karoo Marketplace Buffet, Ivory Coast Restaurant, Java Manjaro, Waterpark Dining, and Winter Holiday Buffet. The types of food range from pizza and pub food to a steakhouse, traditional African food and plenty of sweet treats.

For Mom and Dad

For the adults there is a fitness facility on site with personal trainers available by appointment. There is also a spa and salon.

By Carey Reilly