An African safari the most exciting and rewarding family vacation. An unforgettable shared adventure; making memories and bonding with your loved ones away from the social humdrum of the everyday! Every day on safari is an opportunity to engage with your children around the environment, wildlife, different cultures, and — best of all — an opportunity to spend exciting and quality time together!
But, whether you're travelling with teens or toddlers, you must get it right! Plan carefully and check out that agenda. That's where we come in. Here at Safari Guru, we've walked the talk; lived in the bush with the children, been on safari with those small ones and organised many of the same. With that in mind, we've selected our best countries/times and operators to ensure your dream family bonding experience – is exactly that and much much more.
Our top tips…
First, think variety! It really may pay to cut down on long game drives, get out of the car, try some walking, horse or camel riding, bush activities or community visits. This is where a fabulous destination like Kenya comes in as one of our all-time favourites for family vacations. Kenya has fantastic cultural experiences, and the friendly Maasai love children and love it when children are there to experience their way of life, be it arrow making or tracking animals. Alternatively, do this in a two-centre holiday - safari with something different. Perhaps the bush and the beach – maybe Tanzania, where Zanzibar is the perfect beach ending or Malawi, whose vast lake offers beaches and snorkelling. In Southern Africa, most destinations can combine well with a stop at the Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe; totally awe-inspiring and where anyone with energy left to burn can always indulge in high octane activities on offer - bungee-jumping, white-water rafting, helicopter trips or simply enjoy the drenching of the falls.
Second, small is always beautiful; think micro, not macro. Spend more time in or close to camp; a day in camp can be worth two in the bush! Look at the African bush in a microcosm. Luring an ant-lion from its pit with a blade of grass, checking out bits of elephant or civet poo for clues of the previous nights' dinner, or the real-life puzzle-page of tracks and signs with an engaging guide while having a picnic offers small ones their own thrilling engagements. Children love close encounters with the small; the likes of hornbills, vervet monkeys and mongooses; which are everyday visitors in many of Botswana's unfenced safari destinations.
Third, keep it hands-on. Pristine eco-systems often don't mean so much to an energetic nine-year-old unless they're able to explore, chase or scribble on it. So lion tracks to make casts from, building campfires and shooting bows and arrows, pulling faces at baboons and imitating hippo grunts. Depending on location and time of year - swimming pools are often a must-have. Safari operators have totally woken up to the family market, and many now offer family-friendly, including activities specifically tailored for children, such as guided walks or bush-craft courses and the chance to engage and interact with the local community and for older children (or safer areas) mountain biking or canoeing. This, is why we love specific safari operators per country who offer 'kids' clubs – with friendly and child-orientated guides, your little one can go off exploring in safe hands – while you get some precious relaxation for yourself.
Fourth, do plan early. Many camps or lodges are small and have maximum limits of children in camp and a limited number of family suites, and private vehicles. Many safari camps will recommend the family has their own safari vehicle, as not to disturb those preferring a little privacy, which we at Safari Guru highly recommend even for your peace of mind.
Travelling with others and particularly children offers the chance to discover (or rediscover) the natural world through fresh "younger" eyes. Wherever or whenever you take your family on safari, we'll ensure that the rewards will be amazing: a wildlife bonanza, real-time bonding plus the ultimate old-fashioned outdoor children's playground. Mix up your itinerary, get hands-on, and everyone will be a winner - no family boundaries, no airs and graces, just downright humbling as you realise just how vastly different life can be…
Let us help you identify which camps are best suited to your family; whether they're busy little bees or relaxed souls who intellectually massage Africa's best-kept secrets from their humble, yet willing safari guide!
If you’re dreaming of Africa, your journey has already begun!
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