Ideal Family & Kid Friendly African Safaris
Many international tourists are under the misconception that an African Safari would not be a suitable family holiday. They see the game drives as boring for the little ones and the bush as a dangerous environment.
Nothing could be further from the truth! An African Safari can be both a fun and extremely educational experience that your kids will never forget. It’s perfectly safe, providing normal rules are observed and what a ‘show and tell’ they will have when returning to school after their African safari vacation!
It is also an excellent way for a family to bond as they share the thrill of the African veld, its extraordinary wild inhabitants, its people and its culture. So what do you need to know and do to ensure you embark this year on an Ideal Family & Kid Friendly African Safari?
When to Go
This will vary from country to country, but when viewing game Spring is always the best time, as that is a time of new birth and nature comes alive following the cold, dry winter. In South Africa the best time of year would be September through to April, as these months experience cooler temperatures, but are not too cold.
Summer months can get extremely hot and this can be quite a challenge for families with littler ones. The best idea is to consult your specialist Safari tour operators for information on where and when to go if these months don’t suit you.
Where to Go
There are many countries where you can safari; South Africa, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Namibia and many more. It really depends which area appeals most, or if you want to combine your safari with a different experience. The Jewel of Africa website, is just one place you can learn about many destinations and packages to choose from.
It imperative that you choose accommodation that are child-friendly though and have activities available for kids between the game drives. Some lodges have great swimming pools with water features for kids and play areas as well as child minders. Some safari lodges in the Kruger for instance have special children’s programmes, as planned by their own personal rangers where they learn more about all creatures big and small and are kept busy while the adults are out on their game drives.
Some even have a few ‘tame’ animals that frequent the camps and can (under supervision) be fed by the kids! So again consult your African safari tour operators to choose the most child friendly options to ensure your trip to Africa is happy and successful.
What to Know – Before You Go
We don’t recommend taking infants or children younger than 5 years old on a safari. Most establishments aren’t infant or toddler-friendly and the heat and dust on the game drives may make a baby feel uncomfortable. However, some lodges will welcome families and children of all ages with open arms, and this can be discussed with your Jewel of Africa Safaris tour consultant.
For teenagers of course it’s great and might keep them off their phones and iPad for a while (some lodges don’t even have wireless internet), but just remember that many family-orientated lodges will not allow children under the age of 16 to participate in bush walks.
However, each lodge is different regarding their child policy, so please speak to us to advise you accordingly.
Also, some lodges will allow children to share a room with adults in a day bed or cot, and other lodges won’t necessarily have these facilities. Family rooms can also be requested, depending on availability. Some hotels also offer inter-leading rooms so that a family can stay next to each other, but in separate rooms.
A short list of what to pack – and remember to pack as light as possible, as your kids will definitely want to bring home some souvenirs:
- Light summer clothing and swimming gear — but warm jackets for night drives
- Insect repellent and all basic favourite toiletries, plus sunscreen, as they may not be available in the bush
- Camera batteries and memory cards, plus binoculars
- Medication including anti-malaria medication if venturing into a high-risk malaria area. Children of a certain age will not be able to take certain kinds of malaria medication – again seek advice from your tour experts.
How to Make it Fun
When planning a family safari for kids, choose activities that include your kids and combine good wildlife sightings with keeping kids interested and entertained in-between. Here are a few good ideas to remember.
On the drive – Involve the children to keep their attention and make a game of who can spot something first. Kids love that and it keeps them well occupied. ‘I spy’ on the jeep is also a favourite as in the bush there is so much to point to.
Keep driving distances reasonably short, or at least break up the day with some interesting stops and ask the guide to show kids the bugs and insects and teach interesting things about trees and what their leaves and roots are used for by the locals.
In between – Also do plenty activity that takes place outside the vehicle. A short walk, where kids have animal footprint-identifying sessions and pretend to be tracking game, is great too. Teach your kids how to use binoculars. Teach them about and give them a chance to look for birds as well.
You can also combine your wildlife safari with some time in cultural areas at African villages, where they can learn bead work and crafting, or combine the tour with one that goes to the Victoria Falls or to the beach, where the family can chill together in surf and on sand.
This is where we at Jewel of Africa safaris come in, as with our flexibility we can tailor make a family fun tour exactly to your specifications. Check out our website for our standard packages, but do contact us even if your needs are entirely different and let us help you to create your own unique Ideal Family & Kid Friendly African Safari.