An African family safari can be an incredibly rewarding and exciting vacation for everybody involved when done in the right way. African family safari tours offer a unique opportunity to expose children to societies and cultures that are completely different from their own at a young age, which can have a profound impact on their upbringing.
In a world where we seem to place children in hyper-protective boxes and attempt to shield them from every possible negative, it’s understandable why some families with children might veer away from an African safari for a holiday.
We understand it might seem scary to know that your children will be close to potentially dangerous animals, but at SAFARI FRANK we believe in exceptional standards of safety while still providing an adventure and experience that will glow for years within the minds of the young.
Why Safaris are a Great Choice for Families:
These days there are plenty of choices for family holidays, ranging from the tried and tested beach break within the cosy confines of an all-inclusive resort, to something altogether different – African safari vacation packages. They involve rugged adventure, wild animals roaming the African bush, and activities galore to suit the entire family no matter the age or preferences.
Common Misconceptions About Family Safaris
Family safari vacations might not always be parents’ first choice, but the benefits and life experiences gained by families from African safari tours make it something every family should consider.
The Benefits of Family African Safaris for Family Bonding
Safaris are packed with healthy outdoor fun, make great learning environments, and foster family connections away from the screens and Wi-Fi. You will feel more alive and connected than ever as you create shared experiences off the grid and well out of the rat race.
Why Africa is the Ultimate Family Safari Destination
When it comes to picking an unforgettable family holiday destination, you can’t beat Africa. Elephants stride across the grassy plains, chimpanzees and gorillas can be found in the precious remaining jungles and the unspoiled reefs team with aquatic life.
There is no nature channel program that can beat the real thing and this is better than any classroom can ever hope to be. Getting to see your child experience their very first lion sighting, or experience just how large elephants actually are is a moment you won’t forget – and neither will they.
The Joy of Discovery: Game Drives and Animal Tracking
There are few things as fun as shouting: ‘I see something!’ when out on a game drive during your family safari holidays. Even a dung beetle in action becomes a worthy sighting.
Every game drive comes with a map of wild creatures you may encounter, and your kids will delight in carefully learning about and then following animal tracks. At the end of the day, they’ll love ticking off their sightings, while already trying to mentally piece together what they’ve experienced to tell their friends about it back home.
They can even go and put a pin on the sighting board to help other tourists find an elusive leopard or that hyena that makes its appearance around the game park entrance at dawn.
At SAFARI FRANK we always put your family’s safety and comfort first and only recommend operators whom we know and trust.
Our favourite Family Safaris
What Type of Family African Safari is Best for Children?
If you’re thinking seriously about a safari for your children, the best place to start should be choosing what kind of safari would be best. Do you want to experience Africa’s jaw-dropping national parks, or perhaps its beaches – or maybe even a mix of the two?
Do you think a private safari would be best or do you think they should be part of a group that might include other children? There’s plenty to consider carefully before jumping.
The Beach Experience with SAFARI FRANK
What kid doesn’t love the beach? From South Africa’s Boulders beach in Cape Town dotted with penguins to the tropical coastline of Zanzibar, there is much for the kids to explore. Think sandcastles, snorkelling in clear turquoise waters, and spending a lazy afternoon in a hammock. This is the version of ‘beach vacation’ that SAFARI FRANK specialises in.
Luxury and Local Flavors at Beach Lodges
Many of the beach lodges offer a luxurious but just remote enough getaway destination, that you feel like you practically have a private beach.
In Mozambique or on the Kenyan coast you are encouraged to indulge in locally caught seafood prepared by the chef, and sip coconut water directly from coconuts completing the quintessential beach experience. You can snorkel in the undisturbed reefs, go on a private fishing trip, or take a scuba diving course. And we haven’t forgotten those much-needed cocktails for the parents.
Timing Your Safari: Why Seasons Matter
Picking your season to travel is an important aspect of any bush adventure. On the plains of the Mara, the recent rainfall transforms the plains into a lush landscape full of new wobbly legs, and predators waiting on the sidelines for a calf to wander from its mother’s protective gaze. With a particularly high density of lions, visiting at this time of year won’t disappoint.
The Camps and Lodges
The much sought-after tented camps in the Mara are ideal for families and provide the perfect setting for a range of activities to create that perfect African Safari Experience.
Family-Friendly Guides and Activities
Many of the guides, being parents themselves, love hosting families and caring for your children as they would their own. The family-friendly lodges offer a host of kid-friendly fun activities, including, bow and arrow shooting with the Maasai, starting a campfire with elephant dung and sticks, and educational bush walks around the camp.
Camp Safety and Entertainment
Many camps have been designed to ensure the safety of little ones, and keep them entertained, while still offering the grown-ups maximum game viewing experiences and often some much-needed alone time.
SAFARI FRANK makes a point of forging relationships with the most experienced locals Africa has to offer who know how to make a safari with kids a memorable experience.
These lodges understand that kids don’t want to sit in a game drive vehicle for too long, and would rather be romping through the bush surrounding the lodge and poking at anthills.
Kid-Friendly Lodges and Activities for Family Safaris
We have lodges that are as kid-friendly as it can get with a river rope swing, raft paddling around a safe pool, boating and fishing in the river, as well as a host of other activities to keep the kids entertained. Laikipia safari holidays in Kenya is a firm favourite for adventurous family safaris.
A Classroom Experience Out of School
Taking children on safari can be a hugely rewarding experience, with the bush offering a magnificent classroom and an in-built playground. The guides are used to answering an endless stream of questions from their smallest explorers and hearing an actual lion roar tends to beat any Disney movie.
Tailoring Your Safari with Private Vehicles
If you are travelling with very small children – a private vehicle either self-driven or with a private guide is often the best option so you can set your own pace and stop the car as often as needed.
Children’s Programs at Family-Focused Lodges
Family-focused lodges are known for their children’s programs. Your young ones can learn everything from drumming to making crafts, and from animal tracking to identifying local plants.
Some of the programs partner with the local schools, organising sporting activities with the local children or even an opportunity for your kid to visit an African school.
Making New Friends and Finding Adventure
Being a part of the kids’ activities at the lodge also gives your children the opportunity to make new friends. Whether you are looking for an adrenaline-rushing adventure or lazy beach days, you can find it in Africa.
For the members of your clan that need their days to be action-packed, there are the options of quad biking along dirt roads and gliding along the water in a canoe.
Leisurely Options for a Slower Pace
If you prefer a slower pace, there is the lodge pool overlooking the bush, a hammock swinging by the beach, or even board games with that dazzlingly African night sky above you.
Educational and Cultural Benefits
As a parent, there is an added satisfaction to knowing your child is not only having fun but learning the importance of nature in the process. Africa offers a multitude of opportunities for cultural immersion and witnessing and interacting with traditional African cultures in the flesh has a habit of teaching children life lessons that never appear in their classroom.
Lasting Impressions and Conservation Lessons
A child standing before a Maasai warrior or visiting the small simple home of a large multi-generational family will provide a deep imprint that may well stay with them for the rest of their lives. Being out in the bush every day and seeing wild creatures in their natural habitat helps to cultivate an appreciation for conservation.
The shrinking natural world and the dire need for us to save the last wild places can be put in age-appropriate terms for the kids. A safari done well can ignite a passion for conserving our natural world and the wildlife that calls it home.
The Personal Touch of a Privately Guided Safari
Choosing a privately guided safari means you get to tailor-make your children’s very first bush experience. Breakfast out in the bush with no one but your family and the guide means quality family time. Sitting down for dinner in the restaurant at night and getting to sample the local cuisine – have your kids tried bobotie before? How about malva pudding?
African Safaris for All Ages
Ready for a safari adventure that’s perfect for every age? From tots to teens to grandparents, we’ve got tips and tricks to make your African journey unforgettable.
Toddlers on Safari
With little ones in tow, it’s important to prioritise going to a malaria-free area until they are about 5 years old and can take malaria medication. But this hardly means you’re out of options. Large parts of South Africa are considered a safe zone with beautiful beach safaris. It has many incredible malaria-free BIG 5 parks to visit including game reserves in the Eastern Cape, Welgevonden in the Limpopo region, Madikwe, and the portion of the Kalahari in South Africa.
Some lodges have an age restriction and may 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.
A private safari geared towards small people means a guide who is talented at making this one big educational adventure. You can expect family-friendly lodges to offer a host of kid-friendly activities such as fireside story time for children and arts and crafts activities.
Professional lodge nannies are often around meaning you can sneak off for an hour or two at the spa. Not having to worry about malaria in large parts of South Africa means you can safely combine your BIG 5 adventure with a trip to Cape Town and explore the vibrant city at the bottom tip of Africa. Another good option is to combine the safari with a beach destination like Mauritius.
Tweens on Safari
Tweens often have the most fun on safari. They are old enough to understand this is the trip of a lifetime and often want to get a taste of it all without having those awkward hangups that tend to arrive during their teenage years. They are usually our most curious adventurers, and our guides enjoy fielding all their questions.
Moving around and visiting different camps is a good way to keep your tweens entertained. Each lodge is inspired by a different local culture, and cultural experiences are a huge bonus to being on safari in Africa that quickly add up to unforgettable experiences.
Camping and self drive adventures in Namibia and Botswana’s safaris might just be the best thing they have ever done. For kids from 5 to 10 years of age, areas with a low risk of malaria can be visited with due care, including taking appropriate anti-malarial drugs.
Teenagers on Safari
And so we come to those peculiar creatures collectively known as teenagers. We’ve all experienced the sense of confusion, irritation, and disconnect that usually arrives with the teenage years, and yet when it comes to our own kids, it can be just as bewildering for parents.
An African family safari gives teenagers the perfect excuse to look up from their phones, though that said, they probably won’t get a signal anyway. Africa is itself packed with enough adrenaline to keep any teenagers’ attention, from getting within metres of black rhinos on a walking safari to sitting on the edge of your seats as thousands of wildebeest stampede through crocodile-infested waters.
Quad bikes, sand boards, and mountain bikes all allow them to stay on the move and we find that’s hugely important for teenagers who have places to be and things to explore. If a horse is too mainstream for them, how about riding camelback? And if they want to get up in the air there are hot air balloons and microlights.
For teenagers, almost all options and locations are available to you including most walking safaris and mobile camping trips. This opens up an exciting world of experiences and a private mobile safari in Botswana is the family adventure of a lifetime.
This is a great time to engage with your teen while doing activities they want to do, to find common ground, and strengthen bonds. Who knows, perhaps you’ll even get to that heart-to-heart you’ve been meaning to do for a while now.
In recent years we have seen a rise in intergenerational safaris where grandparents travel with their children and grandkids or sometimes just with their grandchildren.
The bush is something that can be enjoyed at any age, and with a safari expert helping you organise your trip you can be sure to meet everyone’s expectations.
Intergenerational safaris can require a mix of activities, whilst the kids are at bush school and the parents are out on a guided walk, the older generation might enjoy the comforts of the lodge. If easier access to vehicles and specialised lodges with wheelchair access is required, some lodges specialise in accommodating all abilities.
5 Tips For Planning a Family Safari
Why plan a family safari? Simple. It’s the adventure of a lifetime that’s fun for all ages. But the key to a trip everyone will rave about? Planning. Consider the tips below to make planning a family safari a breeze.
1. Tailoring Your Safari to Your Child’s Age
Building your safari around the age of your child will ultimately serve everyone. If you have a toddler on a schedule, try to build the safari experience around that schedule. Morning game drives can be before bath time and meals can be scheduled before anyone gets too hungry and cranky.
Game drives can also be scheduled around short attention spans with lots of breaks to stretch your legs and climb the closest tree with the ground squirrels watching.
2. Involving School-Aged Children in Planning
School-aged children may benefit from being the masterminds behind the trip (with some adult supervision of course). Our trick for five years and older is to make them feel that the adventure was of their making.
Looking at maps and cottages beforehand and showing them pictures of the lodge options can make them feel like they are a part of the planning.
3. Engaging Teenagers in the Safari Experience
Teenagers can take an even more active role in the organisation and plan a day or two of the itinerary, something which is bound to score a few points with them. This could include choosing specific activities or wildlife they’re interested in seeing, or even selecting a particular route for a game drive.
Giving them this level of involvement not only makes the trip more engaging for them but also provides a learning opportunity in planning and decision-making.
4. Navigating ‘Voluntourism’ Options
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. That being said, we are working with a fantastic organisation in Namibia which aims to protect the desert elephants in Damaraland.
5. Alternative Activities for Conservation Enthusiasts
For those who want to be active and involved whilst travelling, we suggest training programs as part of the safari such as an EcoQuest course, which imparts knowledge that will set participants up for a lifetime in conservation.
FAQs about Family Safaris in Africa
Absolutely, safety is our top priority at SAFARI FRANK. We only recommend operators we know and trust.
Many lodges have been designed with family safety in mind, offering a secure environment for kids while still providing thrilling game-viewing experiences for adults.
The best safari for your family depends on various factors like the children’s ages and interests. Private safaris offer flexibility, while group safaris can provide social interaction with other kids.
Absolutely! A safari is a living classroom for children. They’ll learn about wildlife, ecosystems, and even local cultures.
Many lodges offer educational programs and activities tailored for young explorers, making it a learning experience they’ll never forget.
The cost of a family safari in Africa varies based on destination, accommodation, and activities.
Budget options start at a few hundred dollars per person per day, while luxury
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