On Safari with Kids
Alan is a travel writer and author of over 20 Lonely Planet guidebooks, including the guides to Southern Africa and Zambia & Malawi.
Do you bring the little ones? Alan examines the realities of going on Safari with Kids. Imagine how you would have felt seeing elephants, rhino, giraffes, zebra, lions, leopards, etc in the bush when you were a kid!
And belting around in a safari truck off road can be pretty awesome for children too. Yes, most certainly bring the little ones! A safari can be great for kids.
Remember, though, to check your kids’ ages with your safari operator before you book. Many operators may want the kids to be 7 years or up. Find out what activities are and are not available for children.
One huge advantage of bringing children is the social interaction it opens up. Africans love kids and you’ll find that you are greeted with many warm smiles with your children in tow. Having kids with you somehow closes the cultural divide – after all, kids are kids wherever you go!
Planning for a Kids’ Safari
The key to making things work is planning. Wildlife-watching can be exhausting for adults let alone kids. And seeing animals takes patience…not something many children are well endowed with. Remind them that seeing the big animals can take time. And know when to call it a day. That way they won’t hate going the next day.
Try to make the search itself fun by building up anticipation and get excited over the less popular creatures, don’t just hang out for the Big 5. There are often books available that will help your kids identify the less familiar creatures. Ticking off a checklist can be fun, and satisfying for little ones. And help them pass the time when spotting is quiet: colouring books, puzzles etc.
Let them bring their own camera and give them a go of the video-recorder. And let them sleep, if they doze off that’s a good thing! Wake them up for the highlights and let them snooze through the mundane parts.
Remember to keep your wits about you and your children close. Children can look like prey to wild animals. They will be perfectly safe in the safari vehicle; just don’t let them wander off if you get out for a stop. Wildlife parks are not zoos.
And one last tip: a place that I hear very good things about for family safaris is Sabi Sands Private Game Reserve in South Africa. Singita Ebony Lodge in the reserve for example has kids’ activities for all ages and a mini-rangers programme. The Lodge understands that keeping the kids happy keeps the adults happy, which keeps them coming back…
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