Can we take the kids? Our answer, based on our personal experience is, “Yes! We highly recommend it!” Our experience is first-hand and in the most in-depth ways. Julia spent her summer holidays on her family’s farm in Zimbabwe exploring the bush with her cousins and friends. We’ve traveled with kids high and low in Africa and send countless multi-generational families to explore Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa, Botswana and Namibia. Kids love the bush; they love being out in the wild and exploring. The surprising news is that Africa is welcoming and safe for children, especially when a safari is designed with kids in mind. Family safaris in Africa and multi-generational safaris are more popular than ever!
Let’s discuss some common questions we receive from our families traveling to Africa:1) How old should our kids be before we take them to Africa? This answer varies significantly as some destinations are child-friendly at a young age and others have age minimums. We find South Africa incredibly comfortable for families with young kids and recommend our South Africa Family Adventure. Many hotels and lodges do not have minimum ages, provide child minding services and even have activities and junior ranger programs for young ones. Most game drives are restricted to children above 6 years for safety reasons, but some lodges do offer “kiddie bumbles” after breakfast, or short game drives close to the lodge to let the children explore the bush in the big 4×4 vehicle a bit. Namibia (and many other destinations) features private bush villas and family-friendly activities such as sand dunes, kayaking, hiking, biking and more. For family safaris in Kenya and Tanzania, we recommend children from the ages of 8-10 years explore with their families based from private bush villas or private mobile camps set up just for your family. In Botswana, Paul Moleseng is our specialist guide who focuses on families. Our Elephant Family Safari takes children from seven-years-old, and Paul designs our safaris to cater to the interests of both the children and the parents. In family safaris in Uganda or Rwanda, teens above 15-years-old are welcome to chimp and gorilla trek. Can you imagine a more exciting high school graduation present than tracking mountain gorillas in the wild?!
2) How much time should we plan on safari? We recommend mixing things up a bit as traditional vehicle-based game drives can become long and tedious for young children – we include walking or hiking, boating trips and biking where possible. Three or four nights at a game lodge with a swimming pool and a variety of activities pairs well with several nights at the beach (we recommend the Tanzania Wildlife, Culture & Beach Safari) or in a family-friendly city like Cape Town or Swakopmund. We also keep driving distances and internal flying times to a minimum as too many lodge-hops can be tiring for families. Generally families travel to Africa during school holidays with an average length trip of 8-10 days.
3) What about health and safety on my safari? We provide information on CDC travel health recommendations and requirements as well as details on what questions to ask your travel doctor. If you are concerned about malaria and other diseases, we can make recommendations that include malaria-free areas such as Cape Town, Kwandwe and Madikwe or areas of Namibia. We also always recommend your insure your safari with trip insurance and medical evacuation coverage. Our family safaris are privately guided and you are met at the airport and escorted throughout your trip. With a local guide attending to your needs and concerns, you will feel safe and welcome. We know the destinations we work in intimately and can make recommendations on activities and touring for your free time. Our safari vehicles include safety belts for each seat and we require that you use them. Additionally, should you require car seats for young children, we can provide those in many destinations if they are requested in advance.
4) Will our kids meet local children? Yes! In most cases your children will have opportunities to interact with local children at schools we visit, in camps as many camps have managers with children, and also with other children traveling. We find that a highlight for children on safaris is meeting and interacting with local kids. If you are interested in doing a special activity with your children, such as visiting a school and bringing school supplies, please let us know in advance so we can make arrangements accordingly. We also work with Pack for a Purpose and indicate which hotels and lodges you are visiting during your safari participate in their programs. This is a great way to have your children consider the well-being of locals where they are traveling.
Email us today to start planning your family safari in Africa. We recommend planning a year or more in advance for travel over peak holiday dates (December holidays, Easter and Spring break) and at least six months in advance during other times. Many of the lodges that accept children are small and fill quickly. Bush homes and villas are one-of-a-kind and are reserved with a deposit, first-come, first-served.