Africa is a treasure chest of adventure and learning for the whole family. Recognizing the unique needs of families with younger children we offer a range of carefully selected destinations, camps and safari lodges which are child-friendly and offer families a journey of discovery for the whole family.
More and more safari camps and lodges are catering for families by offering roll-in beds or specifically designed family tents/rooms allowing for a range of family permutations - from 2 to 4 children (plus parents!), not to mention Family Houses in top locations together with family-orientated safari programs for all ages - see below for more details.
More and more safari camps and lodges are catering for families and gave introduced family rooms/tents that allow families to stay together (rather than in adjoining rooms). These tend to feature two rooms but may also be spacious enough to allow the inclusion of additional roll-in beds. Some family units share a bathroom while others provide en-suites for both rooms together with an adjoining lounge and/or covered deck area. Add a private vehicle (and guide) and you have a uniquely private family holiday (although a private vehicle is not a pre-requisite).
We have a number of safari houses that would be ideal for families - these are located at the Victoria Falls, South Luangwa National Park and Lower Zambezi in Zambia and Amboseli National Park and Meru National Park in Kenya (and more are coming on-line each year!). The essential idea with these houses is that the whole family can stay together utilising 3 or 4 bedrooms under the same roof. You would also have your own staff to provide meals and take care of the children as well as having access to your own guide for game drives and walks (services differ between camps). It is a very exclusive and novel way for your family to experience Africa together!
You should be aware that there are different age restrictions for different activities. The minimum age for gorilla trekking is 15 years - no exceptions! Whilst most guided walks at safari camps and lodges will allow children, in Zambia (home of the walking safari) children must be at least 12 years old to walk within any National Park. Age retrictions for canoeing can also vary - from 9 to 12 years. Check before you book.
You may need to exercise your parental discretion when it comes to activities like walking or canoeing – this is an area of personal preference (and apprehension tolerance). With teenagers on safari, a few adrenalin-inducing activities may be just what is needed to keep them focused (and enjoying themselves).
For children under 8 years it is probably wise to select game reserves which are within malaria-free regions.
Please try to keep in mind that most safari lodges and camps place a strong emphasis on peace, tranquillity, and getting back to nature. This may not be your children's style! An 'adults' safari is really not suitable for many young children who often become bored and act up! Please keep in mind that it is the responsibility of the parents to ensure that their children do not infringe upon the enjoyment of other guests. To this end, many camps and lodges will insist that families with small children arrange a private game drive vehicle (at extra cost).
For the ages 4 to 8 years these programs mostly consist of a guide who takes the children under their wing, entertaining them with a range of activities around camp (including story-telling, birding and bug collecting amongst others) - keeping an eye on them while the parents do their own game drives and other activities. This can then develop into short bush walks (or "poo walks" during which they help the children collect pods, feathers, insects and leaves, and teach them to identify different animal spoor and droppings) and game drives. Most parents would like to share the many wildlife experiences with their children – especially when the children are a little older (8 to 12 years) and able to fully appreciate an extended game drive. To this end it may be an idea to request a private vehicle if it appears that the camp has not already considered this (in many cases the lodge in question may stipulate this as a requirement when booking). This way you are not infringing upon other guests and can return to camp when the children have ‘had enough'.