THINK African safaris and children don’t mix? Think again. Africa is a fantastic destination for families, offering young safari-goers inspiring experiences they will never forget.
But while many lodges simply tolerate children, others positively embrace them, offering dedicated programmes to help give youngsters the holiday of a lifetime.
Best for: walking on the wild side.
Why:Botswana hasn’t always been child-friendly but things are changing and Footsteps Camp is geared to family needs, catering for children aged seven and up. The camp sleeps six and there’s a specialist children’s guide to bring the bush flora and fauna to life on morning and evening walks.
Other activities vary from making bows and arrows to cooking outdoors. Accommodation is in insect-proof tents with sewn-in floors and comfortable twin beds.
How:Expert Africa offers the eight-night Steenbok itinerary with three and four-star full-board accommodation, including two nights on the Footsteps walking trail, as well as four nights in Shinde Island and Kanana camps from £2,147 per person in November, including flights, game-viewing, most drinks and light aircraft transfers.
See also:Entabeni Private Game Reserve, Limpopo, South Africa, is malaria-free and ‘little five’ game walks can be arranged to view animals such as antelope and zebra, as well as insect patrols for children under 12.
How: Virgin Holidays offers three nights’ all-inclusive accommodation at the three-star Ravineside Safari Lodge on Entabeni Private Game Reserve from £336 per adult, £171 per child in November, excluding flights.
Best for: action-packed days.
Why:Jaci’s has recently introduced a new option for young nature lovers – specialised full-day children’s safaris for three to 12-year-olds.
The fun-packed programme includes bush craft, inspector and detective trials, animal tracking, river safaris, game drives and walks, with lunch back at camp with mum and dad.
Children of all ages are welcome at Jaci’s, those aged eight to 12 can also join their parents on game drives. Children under seven can go on ‘kiddy’ game drives.
How: Southern Africa Travel offers three nights’ full-board accommodation at the five-star Jaci’s Safari Lodge from £1,235 per adult and £365 per child in November, including transfers but excluding flights.
See also:Inkwenkwezi Private Game Reserve in the Eastern Cape offers safaris, canoeing, abseiling and the beach to keep kids happy. For an additional £50 a day families can have a private game vehicle to take children under eight on game drives.
How: Rainbow Tours offers three nights’ full-board accommodation at the four-star Inkwenkwezi Game Reserve from £375 per person in November, with reductions for children.
Best for: meeting the local community.
Why: guests can go to Kwaza school and meet local children and learn about their lives and it is also possible to stay with villagers in their homes – a real eye-opener for youngsters.
Safari packs with quizzes, a diary and colouring-in books are also given to children and other activities include guided nature walks, making elephant dung paper and visiting Chipembele Wildlife Education Centre.
Robin’s House has two bedrooms, or clients can stay at the nearby Nkwali camp, which has six double tents and a swimming pool.
How: Carrier offers two nights’ all-inclusive accommodation at Robin’s House and one night in Kwaza Village from £290 per adult or child in November, excluding flights.
See also: at Samburu Intrepids in Kenya (and other Intrepids Camps) there is an Adventurers Club for under-12s. It is run by experienced guides and meeting local communities, as well as animal watching, are part of the experience.
How: Kuoni offers the seven-night Intrepids Air Safari, including three nights’ full-board accommodation at the five-star Samburu Intrepids from £1,495 per person in November, including flights and transfers.
Best for: environmental education.
Why: a CC Africa camp, Kwandwe has a well-developed children’s programme. Children are given their own books, the CC Africa Eco-Guide for Planet Managers, with wildlife quizzes, stories and tips for animal and spoor identification.
Children complete their guides with the ranger’s help and receive a Planet Manager certificate. Part of the fun includes ‘Pooh Walks’, with rangers helping children collect pods, feathers, insects and leaves to identify.
Bark-rubbing and fishing are also on offer. The Eastern Cape is also malaria-free.
How: Abercrombie and Kent offers three nights’ all-inclusive accommodation at the five-star Kwandwe reserve from £1,425 per adult or child in November, including game activities, excluding flights.
See also: at Sabuk, Laikipia, Kenya, there are guided camel-assisted walks and nature walks for children. Children under two years old stay free and those aged two to 12 go for 50% of the adult price.
How: Wildlife Worldwide offers a 10-day Wings Over Kenya safari, including two nights’ all-inclusive accommodation at the four-star Sabuk Lodge, as well as time at Tortilis in Amboseli and Little Governor’s Camp in the Masai Mara, from £2,495 per adult, £1,995 per child aged 11 and under in November. Prices include flights, game activities and transfers.
Best for: younger children.
Why: many camps in Africa will only accept children over seven, and 12 is often the minimum age, but with young families wanting to travel, more lodges have started to welcome babies too.
At Elsa’s Kopje there is no age restriction and a baby-listening service and cots are available. Families can take over the dedicated family cottage and baby-sitting can be arranged. For older children, there are special early meal times and guided educational walks with the Masai.
How: Cox and Kings offers the 11-day private journey, In Elsa’s Footsteps, including two nights’ full-board accommodation at the five-star Elsa’s Kopje, from £2,995 per person in November, including flights and transfers.
See also:Shamwari in the Eastern Cape, South Africa, is malaria-free and welcomes young children. Baby-sitting services are on offer, as children under six are not allowed on game drives.
The Born Free Centre gives young children the chance to get close to, and learn about, lions and other big cats.
How: Western and Oriental offers three nights at Long Lee Manor in the Shamwari Private Game Reserve from £728 per adult in November, excluding flights. Children stay for 50% of the adult price.
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