An African safari is an incredibly rewarding and exciting family vacation. Safaris are packed with healthy outdoor fun, make great learning environments and foster family connection away from screens and Wi-Fi. You will feel more alive and connected than ever as you create shared experiences off-the-grid and out of the rat-race!
There is nothing like seeing a little one’s eyes light up as they first see the creatures from their favourite Disney movie, or watching a teenager make a connection with people from another culture. The African landscape is an enormous outdoor classroom with the right guide and we believe there is nothing better than experiencing the magic of discovery with your entire family. At safariFRANK we always put your family’s safety and comfort first and only recommend operators whom we know and trust.
There is an emerging trend in intergenerational travel where grandparents travel with their children and grandkids or sometimes with just their grandchildren. A safari is perfect for this style of travel as there are activities that are of interest to everyone and great memories are created as everyone is introduced to different cultures and the wonders of the natural world together. Try your hand at stargazing or enjoy nights spent sharing campfire stories and toasting marshmallows. Grandparents often appreciate a level of comfort and may need easily accessible vehicles or lodging while younger generations will appreciate some active options.
We love personalising your family journey to suit all family members and find authentic and exciting camps that are family friendly. Many family-focussed lodges offer kid’s programs that teach youngsters local crafts, drumming, animal tracking, how to identify and use local plants and more. Some locations even have programs where visiting kids can play sport with local children or try a day at a local school.
Given all of the above, it is vitally important to choose the right lodge and area for your family’s ages, interests and enjoyment. Kids are very welcomed on safaris and you just need to select the right location and right lodge. In warm areas camps with a swimming pool can provide hours of fun on a quiet afternoon and taking aspects such as this into consideration will make a real difference to your experience. safariFRANK’s policy of travelling all the time and for a long time ensures that we are up to date on where will suit you best.
For children under 10, a private vehicle will allow greater flexibility than a shared safari vehicle. This allows you to take shorter game drives or to stop more often to keep the activity exciting for younger kids. This flexibility is one of the keys to an enjoyable and relaxing trip. The accommodation itself is also important with family rooms and adjoining rooms making younger children’s safety and comfort easy.
Some areas offer ‘voluntourism’ options to older children and families. We recommend extreme care be taken with these as many are profiting from such activities rather than truly giving back. In the worst cases, some organisations exploit the very animals they say claim to be helping. For those who want to be active and involved whilst travelling, we suggest training programs as part of the safari such as the bush-wise course, which imparts knowledge that will set participants up for a lifetime in conservation.
To ensure your family holiday is challenge free and enjoyable we have made recommendations based on children’s ages.
- For kids from 0 to 5 years of age, we highly recommend the malaria-free game reserves in South Africa for the best family experience. South Africa offers malaria free game-viewing destinations for every budget and game reserves in the Eastern Cape, Welgevonden in the Limpopo region, Madikwe and the Kalahari all offer exceptional experiences for a family safari. Not all lodges will accommodate children under 5 years of age while others offer child-minding services and private vehicles for game drives greatly enhancing the family’s experience.
- For kids from 5 to 10 years of age, areas with a chance of malaria can be visited with due care, including taking anti-malarial drugs. It is key to find lodges with great children’s programs and guides trained in how to deal with kids. From picnics in the bush to learning tracking skills, a great guide who can match a kid’s enthusiasm and educate and entertain them will make your trip incredibly special. Consider lodges that offer cultural interactions which this age group will really enjoy. Namibia is a great option for a self-drive family adventure with well-maintained roads and wide-open spaces to explore. Much of the country is also malaria-free.
- For kids from 10 to 16 years of age, almost all options and locations are available to you apart from some walking or mobile camping trips where the minimum age may be between 12 to 16 years of age. This opens up an exciting world of experiences and a private mobile safari in Botswana is the family adventure of a lifetime. We highly recommend doing a private safari with our personalised vehicle ‘The Beast’. This allows for a lot of flexibility as well as ensuring an intimate social environment ideal for the whole family. Children of this age will be able to understand far more about the environment and interactions, and cultural interactions will have a great impact and often make children appreciate the privileges they have.
SOME FRANK ADVICE
- Booking a private vehicle will allow greater flexibility and fun, consider ‘The Beast’ it makes all the difference! Check it out here.
- Family-friendly camps are key and small, owner-operated camps often offer greater flexibility and more personalised service.
- Bringing binoculars/cameras, games, colouring books and more can keep children entertained on quiet afternoons and game drives.
- Do a ‘slow safari’ and plan some downtime for younger children who sometimes just need to sleep and play. Remember you will often have great game-viewing from camp.
- Consider visiting a local community and school and enquire how to contribute and share as part of the visit.
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