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African Family Safaris & Tours

An African family safari is never less than a magical experience. Seeing the wonders of Africa through the eyes of your children might be the best family holiday you’ll ever take. Many people think that taking children on holiday to Africa is loaded with risks, but the truth is there are few safety concerns. Here are the answers to some key questions to ensure that your family safari is a trip you’ll all talk about for years to come.

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6 Questions About Family Safari Tours

 
 

6 Questions About Family Safari Tours

Answered by Stuart Butler

Is it safe to bring children on an African safari?

“First-time safari-going parents are often worried about how safe a safari is with children. A primary concern is whether there’s any risk of their children having a potentially dangerous encounter with wild animals. The truth is that it’s very safe taking children on a safari as long as you to abide by park rules. In fact, it’s probably one of the safest kinds of family holidays you can go on with kids. That said, it’s important to keep a watchful eye on younger children to avoid them wandering off. This is especially the case with unfenced camps and lodges. Otherwise there are very few health and safety issues to consider.”

1

How old should children be to go on a safari?

“Many parents are keen to show their children the wilds of Africa at the earliest possible age. We first took our two children on a Kenyan safari when they were four years old and 18 months old. Our older child has hazy memories of the trip, while the younger one doesn’t remember anything about it. Our children are now aged eight and five. We have just returned from another safari with them, and this time it was far more rewarding for both them and us. If I were to recommend a suitable age to start taking children on safari, it would be from age eight upwards. From this age, they begin to appreciate the activities on tour, and get as much enjoyment out of watching the wildlife as you. Plus, they are starting to understand the concept of patience and silence, though whether they’ll stick to it is another thing entirely! Teenagers typically find the idea of going on holiday with parents intensely boring. However, parents of teens have commented on how an African family safari was the one holiday that their children seemed excited to go on.”

2

How do I prepare the kids for a family safari?

“There’s little in the way of pre-trip planning required for children. Give them African wildlife books to read or show them African wildlife films. Beyond that, chances are the children will be even more excited than you about the prospect of a family African safari. Before setting off, make sure that the children know a safari is unlikely to be a non-stop roll call of thrilling animal sightings. Explain to them that patience and stealth are essential to spotting wildlife. The quieter they are and the more they wait, the more likely they will be to see something truly exciting. Try and get them excited about seeing the little creatures, or even the unusual plants and trees.”

3

Will we be able to stay in family rooms?

“Most rooms in safari camps and lodges are set out for couples. Some of the top-end, exclusive places do have a family room or tent, normally comprised of interconnecting rooms. These places can be very expensive. Keep in mind that not all these places accept younger children. Larger, mid-range lodges used by big tour groups invariably have a few rooms suitable for families and will usually take children of all ages. If a place doesn’t have dedicated family rooms, they might be happy to put an extra mattress on the floor. Budget accommodation is rarely kitted-out for families. However, South Africa’s national park-run cottages are often suitable for families. Camping safaris are fun for children but you do need to keep an eagle eye on them to stop them wandering off.”

4

Do we need to take precautions for malaria?

“This depends on the countries and regions you will be visiting. Malaria is present in Africa so it is highly recommended that you consult a travel doctor before departure. Above about 1,500m/4,921ft, malaria isn’t an issue. Even if a park is malaria-free, you should consider what other regions you will be visiting and whether these are also malaria-free. Your travel doctor will be able to advise. General precautions recommended for the whole family: use insect repellent, wear long sleeves and trousers in the evening and sleep under nets. Equally, adults and children should ensure all standard vaccinations are up to date. ”

5

What should I consider when choosing a family safari?

“Not all safari camps and lodges will accept children below a certain age, usually 12 years. This rule is most likely in low-capacity, exclusive, unfenced camps. It’s very important that you confirm before booking whether a place will accept children. You also need to consider transport and safari vehicles. On a safari package, you will be expected to share a safari vehicle with other people. This should be fine if your children are teenagers. If you have younger children, you should consider hiring a vehicle on an exclusive basis. In fact, you might find you are obliged to do so. Including younger children in a safari vehicle with people you don’t know can lead to a stressful game drive for everyone involved. Other paying travelers are unlikely to want to compromise their safari experience for the benefit of younger children. Consider your schedule carefully. It’s easy to try and cram far too much into too short a time. Do this and you will end up spending more time traveling between parks and lodges than enjoying the wildlife. On a family safari, concentrate on one small area and mix in plenty of other activities alongside the classic safaris. Many camps offer options such as walking safaris, though often there are age restrictions on these as well. Other options may include ‘warrior’ training, learning how to track wildlife and village visits. In our experience, village visits are often a child’s favorite experience on a safari. ”

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