Waiting for your kids to be older to enjoy a safari is rather baffling to us at BWW. Going on safari is an exceptional experience for all ages. Even very young children seem to understand they are in the presence of something pretty spectacular when out on a game drive; the closeness of the animals or the incredible people they meet along the way, there is something so unique about safari, and we often get a, “best trip we’ve ever taken as a family” testimonial from our clients.
Planning a family safari takes time, knowledge and experience. Here are our top 5 tips on what to consider when planning yours
Some lodges will only take children 6+, some 16+. Although harder to find, there are lodges that allow younger children join a game drive. These are great and often use vehicles that have been redesigned for a baby or toddler seat offering them the best view! For families with little tots who don’t want to come out on the game drive, family-friendly lodges have a range of activities on hand to amuse the little ones whilst parents and older kids head out on safari.
We would almost always suggest a private, guided game drive. Nothing beats having an experienced ranger take you out into the African wild. Going on a safari with an expert ranger is going to 100% give you the best chance to track and discover all the animals on your bucket list.
Another option is a self-drive safari. This is a great choice if you want total flexibility. Self-drive safaris allow for kids who need a little extra time in their bed or fancy an early afternoon nap. You are in complete control over when your safari starts and finishes. If hunger or toilet needs arise during your self-drive safari, it’s not a problem, you can take everything at your own pace.
Smaller game reserves generally equal less time in-between animal sightings. We work with many small reserves which are great for impatient mini Attenborough’s. Rangers will keep little people engaged, generally with stories, sightings or talks of poo – the colour of poo, the type of poo, who’s poo is it…. and so on. For the moments in-between viewing, we’ll hop out of the vehicle (providing it’s safe to do so), take a moulding of a lion track and jump back in before following the tracks to hopefully find the Lion King and his pride.
Some reserves are malaria free so can be a great choice for families who don’t want to take anti-malarial drugs. South Africa has some beautiful reserves that are malaria free all year round. For example, the Madikwe Reserve has wonderful game viewing and some excellent camps that cater for families. Tswalu is a BWW favourite, not least because of its brilliant activity list for children. Etosha National Park in Namibia is absolutely fantastic for families and is malaria free during certain months of the year.
Choosing the right lodge for your family safari is super important. Private swimming pools, professional childcare and age-appropriate experiences are some of the considerations when choosing your lodge. Lodges with 2 bathrooms will make it easier to get everyone up and out for early morning game drives. Luxury and comfort can absolutely be found in African safari camps, you just need to know which ones do it best.
Choosing the right lodge becomes even more important for multi-generational families. Grandparents having the chance to enjoy a much needed (quiet) sundowner whilst the grandkids spend time learning survival skills with rangers in the wild is key to a successful family safari.
Providing kids with tools to help search for animals is a great way to keep them engaged on the game drive. Lodges who specialise in families will have activity books, kid friendly binoculars & animal identification booklets for you to take out on your game drive. Investing in a kid friendly camera is a great way for them to engage and learn. Also, we can’t say this enough – snacks are king. Anyone who travels with small children will know the importance of snacks on a journey, safaris aren’t any different and snacks should be in plentiful supply!
Like any experience we organise, our team focus entirely on the ages and interests of your children. Get in touch if you’d like to speak to our team about your African family safari.