Are you are planning on taking a family safari with kids and you don’t know where to start from? well, the reality is many people think that a family vacation and an African safari can never be combined. the good news is that this is very false! We compiled most of the questions asked by holidaymakers hoping to travel with their kids on safari in Africa and have comprehensively answered them so that they guide you plan your safari well.
All Your Questions Answered – Everything You Need To Know About Going On An African Family Safari With Kids
Is it safe to take young kids on a safari in Africa?
Just as it is will anything well planned with cautions, a properly planned safari in Africa is safe for kids as well. Always remember to remain in your vehicle while on a game drive, not to stick out your hands from the window and not to make too much noise while close to the animals. and if you are on a guided adventure, always follow the instructions of your guide while in the animals sanctuaries.
How old should my kids be to go for a Safari in Africa?
Majority of the organized Africa safaris and guided game drives in the national game parks and reserves have an age restriction, however when it comes to self-drive safaris especially in privately owned game reserves, there is no age restriction.
Majority of the parks and reserves allow kids of 6 years and over especially to participate in game drives, and even engage with the local guides. So in case you are thinking of taking multiple consecutive days of game viewing, we highly recommend that you consult with your tour agent so that they share with you their policies especially if your kids are below six year.
What are the best countries for a Kids’ safari in Africa?
Open up your children’s world with an eye opening adventure as you explore different destinations on the African continent. Below are the top five children safari destinations although we must emphasize a kids’ safari can be enjoyed anywhere across in most countries in Africa.
Being a former colony of the Dutch, South Africa offers a blend of cultures and in fact if English is your preferred language as a family, you will be guaranteed with English speaking guides. The country has numerous malaria-free safari destinations. You will get an opportunity to explore miles and miles of privately owned wilderness areas across the Cape Mountains in the east, to the Kalahari Desert in the south, rivers and vast plains. The wildlife here is pretty amazing and you will enjoy views of several predators like lions as well as numerous grazers like elephants, giraffes plus a rich diversity of antelopes so be rest assured that your kids will be amazed through the adventure.
Something that makes South Africa very unique destination is the fact that it has a variety of other family activities you can combine with your safari in the wild and these include: tours on the Cape Peninsula, city tours, sand boarding, hikes and exciting fishing trips.
Kenya is a favorite to many as a family destination for a safari in Africa because of its rich diversity and remarkable flexibility. You will get the authentic bush experience personalized to the preferences of your family. There are several privately owned camps and conservancies that don’t operated under stringent guidelines compared to the national parks. besides the game drives, the kids can go horse riding, feed the giraffes, engage in walking tours, helicopter tours, cultural tours to the local villages as well as bush picnics.. Indeed you won’t get the city glamour in South Africa but definitely enjoy your bush experience.
Are your kids keen on more intrepid adventures? Known as the original walking safari destination, Zambia is a particularly great choice for more remote family safaris geared toward ages 10 and up.
If your kids are the more daring type, then this is definitely the best destination since across the African continent its among the very places where you can enjoy authentic walking safaris. Majority of the safari activities in this country are focused to ward kids of ten (10) years of age and more.
It offers great camping opportunities in areas with large numbers of wildlife, and you will surely get value for your money.
You will find a number of safari lodges accepting children with no age limits. There are about five (5) different world heritage sites in the country that have been confirmed by UNESCO such as the legendary breathtaking Victoria Falls, Khami Ruins National Monument, Mana Pools National Park, the Zimbabwe Ruins and the Matoobo Hills which can all be combined with your family safari here.
There is a dual-engine train with a single tram that runs through Hwange National park in which the kids can get another unique but exciting way for game viewing especially if they love trains. They will get a good opportunity to runabout in the train as they see the wildlife.
Fifth on the list is Botswana home to the renowned Okavango Delta. There you can enjoy Footsteps Camp which is program designed particularly for holidaymakers with children. During this, you will learn how to track different animals on foot as well as in Safari Vehicle. The kids get a chance to make traps for small animals, get to identify different animals by their spoor, use sticks to start a fire and also identify birds. It’s quite an exciting variety of activities.
How many days are appropriate for a safari with kids?
Well, the duration of your safari will depend on the purpose of your trip, the activities you want to engage in, and the country (destination) you are visiting. Generally speaking, kids will not be comfortable spending several days in a safari car viewing wildlife, so we advice seven (7) days utmost of safari with the kids with a variety of other kids’ activities swimming.
Do kids need any special vaccinations before going on an African safari?
Before visiting any country on the African continent, we recommend that you make a proper search of the medical information about it as most of them require both adult and young tourists to take some vaccinations such as the yellow fever vaccine
Should kids take malaria pills before going on safari in Africa?
Although there are a number of malaria- free destinations you can visit in Africa, we greatly recommend that you speak to your doctor back home before making this trip and he / she will make the best medical recommendations for your kids. There are a number of useful websites (like the institute of Tropical Medicine) you can explore for more medication about the different countries you will be traveling to.
What should I pack for the kids on a safari in Africa?
Well besides the usual packing list, there aren’t so many unique things you should park for the kids.
Binoculars: experts however recommend that get each child a pair of binoculars for the trip as it will keep them very engaged and make the game drives more fun. There are several affordable average quality binoculars which will actually better serve than any form of toys.
Wildlife Book guide: Incase the kids are old enough to read, getting them a book on the wildlife in Africa, especially with picture will make the game viewing more fascinating.
Enough warm clothes: Because game drives are conducted early morning when it is normally very cold, we recommend you pack sweaters and a jacket for each kid, these will come in handy also in the cold evenings back at the lodge.
Preferably long sleeved shirts to protect against mosquito bitess
We greatly recommend that unless if you are taking a self drive adventure, please leave all the kids’ toys back at home.
Should the kids wear khaki clothing on safari in Africa?
Interestingly many holidaymakers assume that they need to buy a brand new wardrobe when going on safari, but that is not true. Some activities like nature walks do not need bright colored clothing such as red or yellow, however when on a game drive, more so in an enclosed safari vehicle, the color of clothes you wear doesn’t matter. However, if using an open safari vehicle, we greatly advise against wearing bright colors. So for each kid, pick out the dark colored shades or brown clothing – they will serve the purpose. if at all you must buy, don’t waste time too many, simply get each child a long sleeved preferably light brown shirt as they can wear it several times over other shirts to prevent insect bites.
What is the most appropriate type of shoes for kids on safari?
The type of shoes your kids will wear on safari is not very important because during the game drive they will be seated in the car, however if using an open safari car, in order to protect against the early morning cold during the morning game drives, it recommended that you give them closed shoes.
What do I do if my child needs to ease themselves while on a game drive?
Honestly, in some areas this is very challenging. However we normally advise that if you are going to explore an area where you are not allowed out of the safari vehicle, please ensure that the entire family uses the bathrooms prior to departure. You can also plan a number of stops at least every after two (2) hour’s at the designated places like picnicking areas or at the camping sites. Sometimes the kids may tell you that they don’t want to use the bathrooms whoever always insist that they do so to avoid any disturbances during the drives. this entire experience is much easier for the age groups still wear diapers. We continue to emphasize that please refrain from stepping out of the car for bathroom breaks.
Can we carry snacks for the kid while on Safari?
Yes, although there are picnic meals normally provided during organized safaris, and the guide will make a stopover in a safe place and setup for your meal out in the open wilderness. There is bottled water normally provided in the vehicle as well, however this does not stop you from packing a few of the kids’ favorite snacks.
Is there another way kids can view wildlife besides going on the traditional bumpy game drives?
Yes, there are other ways however; you will need to do a comprehensive research before you travel. Some of the other alternatives include visiting the water holes, or sleeping at lodges, tented camps or hotels with waterholes that are commonly visited by animals. Keep in mind that some accommodation places don’t have waterholes while other do but still are not visited by the animals so making a comprehensive research will be very important.
However if the kids become tired of the game drive, simply take a stop preferably by a river of waterhole. In fact as you sit waiting, you are likely to encounter a number of other animals.
What is the cost of going on an Africa safari with kids?
The cost of your safari will actually depend on what you want. The type of accommodation you prefer and the quality of service you wish for. However for those of you with a limited budget, you still can enjoy a holiday in Africa with the kids. The best way to do that is by going on a self-drive safari, rent a car, book the flights and when it comes to the park entrance fees, they are very affordable with kids entering at no cost in most destinations. Alternatively you can hire a park guide from the park headquarters and these do not charge so much.
Do all safari lodges allow kids?
No, in fact you have to first make sure that the management of the accommodation facility. there are some specific lodges that allow kids as young as two (2) depending on their polices, however, what is common among such properties is that they allow kids of six years and over to attend game drives. They normally organize other activities for children below that to engage in such as painting, storytelling, cultural tours and guided nature walks. Some can organize for babysitter services (although this comes at an extra cost). Always remember to inform you tour operator that kids’ will be joining you on your safari and specify their ages. In addition kids normally love spending some time in the swimming pool where they will be able to cool off the day’s hit and relax. So such lodges normally have care takers at the swimming pool looking after the kids and when not in use the swimming pools are covered with a net as a safety precaution.
What types of accommodations should I book for our Safari?
We recommend that you opt for lodges that have family units with at least two bedrooms and very clean separate bathroom facilities. Remember activities like morning game drives begin very early so an additional bathroom will come in handy. The accommodation should be well located with quick access to the airport, preferably in a malaria free area. Below we bring the best 9 safari lodges for families with kids. Before booking your accommodation, you have to confirm with the lodge about their child policies.
Madikwe Safari Lodge, South Africa
Situated in the northwestern province within Madikwe Reserve a Malaria-free sanctuary, this is among the best rated family accommodations. It accepts children of different ages with the minimum age limit being two (2) years. it has nice family suits that can accommodates as many as two (2) children below ten (10) years. Its private pools when not in use are covered with nets as a safety precaution.
The chief pays special attention to the culinary preferences of the kids, while the hospitable staffs (who are actually parents as well) will take good care of the entire family to ensure that you enjoy your stay. They organize game drives for families in addition to several kids’ activities like pizza making, Bug CSI led by a field ranger, soccer games, painting as well as coloring.
Four Seasons Safari Lodge – Serengeti, Tanzania
This is a luxury family safari lodge offering over 75 rooms within the central part of Serengeti perfect for big spenders. Here you will have an opportunity to learn about the history and culture of the Maasai people and engage in several activities that conserve wildlife as well as support the local schools.
There is a Kijana kids’ park open from 10:00am to 6:00pm perfect for children between 8 and 17 years. Here several programs like learning about the Serengeti animals, art and crafts work, video games, environmental conservation programs as well as video watching.
Camp Jabulani, South Africa
Found close to Kruger National Park within Kapama Game Reserve, the property has a special herd of elephants living on its premises which can be visited by the whole family. it accommodated children of 12 years and over. The children’s program includes activities such as: survival basics, storytelling, bug catching, dress-up parties, bird watching, crafts projects as well as tracking tutorials.
Giraffe Manor – Nairobi Kenya
This is an amazing small hotel that has a herd of the Rothschild giraffes which is very playful. these can actually be hand fed right in front of the door steps. its ideal for families with spacious rooms.
King’s Camp, South Africa
This accommodates children as young as six years. it offers eleven private thatched bungalows with spacious rooms ideal for family safaris. It is located close to a dried river bed offering good vies of wildlife.
Luangwa Safari House – South Luangwa National Park, Zambia
This is a very comfortable home with spacious rooms and accepts children of seven years and more. Its children program includes guided walks to a nearby village school, game drives and visiting the Chimpembele Wildlife Education Center.
Richard’s Camp, Kenya
Found in southwestern Uganda close to the renowned Maasai Mara reserve, it sits near the end of the riverine forest offering amazing views of different animals such as zebras, elephants and several large cats. It offers very spacious family rooms.
Shamwari Riverdene Lodge, South Africa
This beautiful lodge is located within the Eastern Cape and it is a perfect place for a family to spend their holiday. It is located within an area free from mosquitoes and accommodates children as young as four (4) years. among their children programs are game drives (for children of 6 years and over), visiting the Shamwari Wildlife Hospital which takes care of wounded wildlife and after they are ok, return them back in the wild, and also visit the Born Free Foundation Big Cat Rescue Center where leopards plus lions rescued from zoos as well as circuses are looked after.
&Beyond’s WILD-Child Program and Family Suites
Operating within eastern and southern Africa, &Beyond is a specialist in African safaris offering very nice accommodation facilities. Its recently introduced WILD-Child program is available at all its facilities. There are trained rangers who will keep the children engaged all through the safari. they have activities about wildlife conservation, African culture and the wildlife. They have very spacious rooms that can comfortably accommodate an entire family.
Can the Africa Safari be combined with other activities?
Yes, indeed you can combine your Africa safari with exciting activities like a beach holiday like on the beautiful islands of the Zanzibar in Tanzania which will be the perfect rest from all the day’s heat and wilderness ambience found in the game parks and game reserves. In South Africa, you can visit the urban Cape Town which offers a number of exciting activities for the entire family including tours of the wine lands, exploring the Table Mountains or visiting the penguins.