Family safaris

Family safaris take you and your children to see Africa’s epic wildlife. From giant herds of wildebeest in the Serengeti to the lions of South Africa’s Kruger National Park, seeing big game, small game and everything in between in its natural environment is hugely special; even life changing. Family safaris also break down the classic safari, weeding out the back to back game drives and sowing the seeds of inspiration, via bush craft lessons, nature walks and time spent with Maasai warriors. Children aged eight and up will enjoy a family safari most, and if your kids are 12 and older, you can pretty much take your pick of safari destinations, from Tanzania to Botswana and Namibia.

What do family safaris entail?

How is a family safari child friendly?

On our family safari holidays, the driver and guide will be experienced at working with children, and know how to engage them. They will make a game drive really fascinating for kids and keep them rapt. Tanzania, Kenya and South Africa are especially geared up for family safaris, and in the latter there is a lot to amuse teenagers, too, with plenty of adventure activities, such as rafting, hiking or kayaking available alongside game drives.

What’s the accommodation like?

Many safari lodges, particularly in Kenya, cater brilliantly for families. They may have family chalets or adjoined tents, so you can all be together. Some offer nice extras for kids, from board games to dinners served at an early, child friendly time. There may be activities available, from craft workshops to tracking lessons in the bush. Look out for lodges with pools, too – a great way for kids to cool off and have fun between activities.

What is there to do besides game drives?

Walking safaris are sometimes possible, particularly in Maasai run conservancies in Kenya, and these are a great chance to get out of the vehicle and close to the landscape, spotting bugs, birds and animal tracks. At some family friendly lodges, the staff may run bush school programmes for children, leaving you free to head out on a game drive. A visit to a Maasai village in northern Tanzania or southern Kenya is fun and educational. Young people can learn to throw spears and make fire, and meet local children who live in an entirely different way.
Faye Wilkinson, from small group holiday specialist Intrepid, explains what to look for:
“We try to mix it up so the holiday is not just safari the whole time. We put something a bit more active in. In South Africa particularly, we visit Blyde River Canyon where you can go trekking, kayaking or snorkelling. We go to Kruger, but also other parks for very different wildlife spotting in each and that seems to be something young people respond positively to. The accommodation is also key. Camping works really well. Bush camps are often quite basic with a participation element so the young people are getting involved and taking responsibility for things, and there’s a nice independent element to it all. That’s also nice for parents to see. Look out for short journey times, too. Journey times in Africa can be long, but we’re conscious of breaking up journey times for family holidays, with more stop offs and not travelling great distances. South Africa is ideal. We visit three really quite different parks in terms of flora and fauna, but all within manageable distances.”

Our top Family wildlife Holiday

Madagascar family adventure holiday

Madagascar family adventure holiday

Unique family adventures in Madagascar

From £2495 to £2795 14 days ex flights
Tailor made:
This trip can be tailormade throughout the year to suit your requirements
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Hello. If you'd like to chat about Family wildlife or need help finding a holiday to suit you we're very happy to help. Rosy & team.

How old do children need to be?

There is usually a recommended minimum age on family safari holidays and generally speaking, children over eight get the most from this kind of holiday. Seeing wildlife requires patience and silence, and open-sided safari vehicles can be uncomfortable and cold, so very young children with teeny tiny attention spans may struggle. Bush walks are often only suitable for older children, too, typically from age 12.

Small group or tailor made?

Family safaris run as both tailor made and small group trips, with tailor made options giving you complete freedom to design your itinerary to suit you and your children. Small group family safaris, with around 16 participants, often cost a little less than tailor made tours and your children will have a readymade group of friends for them to share and learn with.

Is a safari safe for kids?

A safari holiday takes you and your family close to wildlife in the wild, which naturally raises questions of safety. Be reassured that fully qualified guides and support staff know how to keep everyone safe, and camps have strict safety controls in place. On game drives, it’s essential to stay in the vehicle, so spontaneous loo breaks can’t happen. Instead, the driver will drive to find a safe place, usually in a wide open place with a good view of nearby game.

Children tend to fall into awed silence at the first sight of an elephant in the wild, but you know your children best, so if you’re not sure they can handle sitting still and keeping shtum in the presence of wild animals, maybe postpone the trip until they’re a little older. When it comes to illness, South Africa and Namibia have the lowest risk of malaria.
Written by Joanna Simmons
Photo credits: [Page banner: Nadezhda1906] [Intro: David Clode] [What is there to do besides game drives?: Tim Williamson] [Is a safari safe for kids?: Tim Williamson]
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