One of the more frequently asked questions to our safari specialists is whether or not kids can come on safari. The truth is, a safari experience is most definitely an adventure that families can experience together. Going on safari is incredibly rewarding, a memorable family vacation that will inspire conversations for years to come. There are, however, a few important factors to consider when planning a safari trip with young kids, and although our safari specialists can assist you with finding the ultimate family safari adventure, we do understand that deciding to travel to Africa can often be daunting and it is therefore imperative that you know what to expect.
Lodges throughout Africa have realized the demand for family-friendly accommodation, with many employing childminders and implementing ‘kids menus’ and structured ‘kids on safari’ programmes that are age-appropriate, educational, and most importantly fun. The staff, in particular, the rangers, are terrific with kids - bonding almost instantly on meeting. The general rule at most child-friendly lodges is that no children under the age of 6 years are permitted on game drives where there is an opportunity to view dangerous predators. Noise attracts attention and animals do tend to feel uneasy. It is crucial for a ranger to always be in control of every sighting and will expect guests to be quiet and remain seated when coming across dangerous animals. Families traveling with kids younger than 6 years, can choose to request the services of a childminder, or alternatively consider lodges that provide mid-morning family drives out in more safer areas of the bush.Another popular option offered at many lodges is to book a private vehicle. This allows the ranger to take the entire family out on an exclusive safari without compromising the experience of other guests. It is important to note that private vehicles are at an additional cost and need to be pre-booked, subject to availability.
Malaria is often a topic of concern for parents, the good news however is that not only do many of Safari.com’s safari holiday destinations present a minimal risk of malaria (a risk that is even lower during the dry seasons) but we have identified malaria-free destinations for both classic big game safaris and relaxing tropical beach holidays - ideal for an African family safari or pregnant women who don't want the inconvenience - and possible associated health risks - of having to take anti-malaria medication. Some malaria-free game reserves include Pilanesberg, Madikwe, and the Eastern Cape.
Our Top 5 picks for kids on safari in South Africa
1. Sabi Sabi Bush Lodge, Sabi Sands Private Game Reserve, Greater Kruger National Park
Sabi Sabi Bush Lodge welcomes children to their Elefun Centre; a fully fledged children’s facility that was designed by childcare professionals who set out to create a space that is fun, safe and educational. A “Junior Ranger Programme” is offered to children between the ages of 4 and 12 years and includes interactive activities such as bush survival, bugs and birds, bush walks, spoor tracking, midday game drives, arts and crafts, and games. The lodge goes the extra mile when it comes to kids, adding a stuffed safari companion to their beds and a backpack with some awesome goodies to use on safari and take home as a safe keep.
2. Madikwe Safari Lodge, Madikwe Game Reserve
Madikwe Safari Lodge is located in the malaria-free Madikwe Game Reserve and welcomes children of all ages. The Eco House is an educational entertainment center built just for kids. The facility encourages kids to partake in painting, drawing, arts and crafts, and experience some of the live specimens from the reserve. There are many activities available for children including family safari drives, bug CSI, dung tracking, track pack with plaster of Paris, baking in the kitchen, making pizzas in the boma, and star gazing.
3. Shamwari Riverdene Lodge, Shamwari Game Reserve, Eastern CapeRiverdene Lodge is set within the malaria-free Shamwari Game Reserve and has a designated children’s coordinator at the lodge who plans various social, sporting, arts and cultural activities for kids. Each young explorer receives their own age-appropriate gift pack with various goodies and has the option to dine off a delicious kids menu. Shamwari’s game drive policy is unlike any other reserve in Southern Africa, where children from the age of 4 years are permitted on the scheduled morning and afternoon game drives. Fun experiences for the whole family include a visit to the Born Free Foundation, Animal Rehabilitation Centre, and Rhino Awareness Centre located on the reserve.
4. Londolozi Varty Camp, Sabi Sand Game Reserve, Greater Kruger National Park
Londolozi has always understood the importance of family and believes that teaching children about the natural world is an important aspect of their lives. The Londolozi Cubs program ensures that every day is filled with fun and fascination. The Cub’s Den is designed for pure delight, with fish ponds to splash around in, Land Rovers to ‘drive’, campout tents, and an educational center where wildlife takes center stage. Bushveld excursions are guided by the Cub Coach and other fun activities include spoor identification, bird watching, bug catching, African dancing, bead making, singing and drumming, and dung spitting.
5. Phinda Mountain Lodge, Phinda Private Game Reserve, KwaZulu Natal
&Beyond’s WILDChild programme, designed especially for children, is filled with fun interactive activities that aim to offer opportunities to learn and discover new experiences and cultures. Expeditions may involve activities such as tracking, making traditional bows and arrows, beading, crafting and painting, as well as fun in the lodge garden or kitchen and more. All activities offered at the lodge tie in with the environment. Each young traveler will also receive a WILDChild backpack with a special scrapbook and other goodies such as a solar torch, magnifying glass, or compass.
Our Top 5 picks for kids on safari in the rest of Africa
1. &Beyond Matetsi River Lodge, Victoria Falls
Offering rich wildlife viewing and a scenic Victoria Falls experience, Matetsi River Lodge is a fantastic option for families traveling with kids. Children of all ages are welcome at the lodge with childminding available as well as a WILDChild programme, designed especially for children, is filled with fun interactive activities that aim to offer opportunities to learn and discover new experiences and cultures. Expeditions may involve activities such as tracking, fishing, making traditional bows and arrows, beading, crafting and painting, as well as fun in the lodge garden or kitchen and more. All activities offered at the lodge tie in with the environment. Each young traveler will also receive a WILDChild backpack with a special scrapbook and other goodies such as a solar torch, magnifying glass, or compass.
2. Camp Kalahari, Botswana
A paradise for young explorers, Camp Kalahari invites children of all ages to stay at the homely camp and open up their imagination and have fun in the beautiful Kalahari. Activities offered at the lodge include horse riding, day game drives, night game drives, bush walks, interactions with semi-habituated meerkats, quad biking in the dry season, and a bushman experience. Unusual for a Botswana camp, there is no stipulation by Camp Kalahari that families with young children must book their own private vehicle, so kids of all ages are welcome on game drives.
3. Four Seasons Safari Lodge Serengeti, Tanzania
The Four Seasons Safari Lodge Serengeti welcomes children over the age of 2 years and offers a “Kids For All Seasons” programme, aimed at providing a fun and safe environment for children. The Kijana Klub is located in a dedicated area of the lodge and has an arts and crafts area, foosball table, board games, video games, computer, DVDs and a small library. All kids staying at the Lodge are given a Serengeti Passport to help them keep track of and encourage them to learn more about, all the animals they spot during their stay. Other activities include movies night, bush skills, nature walks, scavenger hunts, swimming, Masai beading, conservation projects, Swahili language lessons, cooking class, and Kids yoga.
4. &Beyond Sandibe Safari Lodge, Botswana
Sandibe Safari Lodge welcomes children of all ages at the lodge with childminders available to take care of younger kids (under 6’s) during game drives. Sandibe has a lovely family unit with two interconnecting suites and offers a WILDChild programme, designed especially for children, is filled with fun interactive activities that aim to offer opportunities to learn and discover new experiences and cultures. Expeditions may involve activities such as tracking, fishing, making traditional bows and arrows, beading, crafting and painting, as well as fun in the lodge garden or kitchen and more. All activities offered at the lodge tie in with the environment. Each young traveler will also receive a WILDChild backpack with a special scrapbook and other goodies such as a solar torch, magnifying glass, or compass.
5. Chobe Game Lodge, Botswana
Chobe Game Lodge is a premier venue for families traveling with children. The lodge tailors the activities to ensure the safari experience is fun and educational for every family member. All children are given a safari bag containing activity books, checklists, and various surprises to keep them busy during certain times of the day. Other special excursions range from mokoro races (dependent on water levels), fishing trips and interactive eco-educational talks, while regular safari activities are planned around and adapted to the family’s wishes. Families with children aged 6-11 years are required to book private activities at an additional cost. We’d love to bring you and your kids to Africa for an unforgettable family adventure. Get in touch for free, expert travel advice and quotes.