KIDS ON SAFARI
The Best African Lodges for Children
Taking kids on safari brings new excitement to the experience.
Just as Christmas with children reignites the sense of magic and wonder, so too does a child-friendly safari allow adults to see Africa through fresh eyes, to discover that which may have been overlooked, to slow down and appreciate the safari experience for the first time once again.
Bringing kids on safari can also create multi-generational memories. Perhaps new parents were taken on an unforgettable safari as a child and now wish to provide the same memories for their children, or maybe three or even four generations can celebrate an occasion or simply share in the joy of an African safari together.
No matter what age they may be, considerations do need to be taken when taking kids on safari. Many won’t endure extended game drives or lengthy walks and some remote camps may be tranquil but will lack the facilities to keep young minds inspired and entertained.
Fortunately, numerous camps and lodges cater specifically to kids on safari, and not simply with a handful of board games and a children’s restaurant menu. Certain properties have developed kids’ clubs and half- or full-day workshops and activities that not only keep youngsters amused but also provide fascinating educational lessons on wildlife, bush skills, conservation and cooking.
Few things are more magical or memorable than sharing safari experiences with your children. It is something we have been lucky enough to enjoy ourselves and plan for guests many, many times. But if you feel that your youngsters’ attention spans may not tolerate a luxury safari, these seven properties will fulfil your wishes. Each with trained staff, years of experience and dedicated cubs’ clubs, these properties have all the luxury a discerning traveller might wish for and allow peace and serenity without hordes of screaming tots careening through public areas while still catering attentively specifically for children.
For those wishing to enjoy a safari with their progeny, from fascinated five-year-olds to indifferent teens, these seven properties will offer more than enough to keep kids on safari entertained… and parents sane!
- Ol Jogi
- Thornybush Safari Lodge
- Duba Plains Camp
- Royal Malewane
- Somalisa Acacia Camp
- Sabi Sabi Bush Lodge
LONDOLOZI, SOUTH AFRICA
Londolozi Private Game Reserve has a collection of exquisite private properties each as splendid as the last. Some are wonderfully intimate for couples, but others, including Varty Camp and Pioneer Camp, specifically lend themselves to multi-generational clientele.
Founders Camp is an exceptional solution for a multi-generational party. Private suites allow for some seclusion and peace, but the superior family chalets still allow parents to keep an eye on their little ones.
Varty Camp is the heart and soul of the Londolozi property, with numerous secluded villas converging on a central dining area, a shared gym, pool and spa providing for several parties at any one time. Occupancy remains limited with just ten chalets accommodating up to 20 guests. Several of these can be conjoined, offering a more family-friendly environment.
What makes Londolozi particularly special for young children is its dedication to their independent entertainment, allowing parents to relax and find peace in the knowledge that their children are being safely and expertly catered to.
To begin with, all multi-generational activities can be adapted to suit all ages, and guides have a wealth of experience in making a game drive equally as entertaining for young ones as it is for mum and dad, grandma and grandpa.
When parents or guardians wish to take some time for themselves, the Cub’s Den provides a personalised children’s program specifically designed for your child. Here, kids can learn about insects and plants, take casts of animal tracks, play games with other visiting children, enjoy story time and movie nights or get creative in the kitchen, creating pizzas, muffins and more with the camp chefs.
With its wealth of game, regular drives, adaptable accommodation options and dedicated Cub’s Den, Londolozi is, in many ways, the very best destination for kids on safari.
OL JOGI, KENYA
One of the beauties of Ol Jogi, no matter the guest, is the wonderful sense of a home away from home that it instils.
At Ol Jogi, the focus is creating a space that exclusively yours, no matter how long you might be staying. Catering to only one party at any one time, guests will have complete access to the property and its numerous facilities in the heartlands of Kenya. A library, dedicated games room, swimming pool and cinema room provide areas for all ages to mutually enjoy. A secret underground tunnel emerges into a lakeside hide creating excitement and intrigue for young and old alike, while all game drives and excursions are crafted to entertain and accommodate all ages.
For adults, a spa, gym, sauna and yoga and pilates room provide plenty of private space, while family outings incorporate excitement, entertainment, culture and education for all participants.
Though there is no kids’ club at Ol Jogi, family members of all ages are carefully considered in all aspects of the property and the experiences it offers, just as a family home is a collaborative space, each individual able to enjoy and share in its spaces.
Ol Jogi is a wonderland to be explored, like the captivating colonial lodge of an eccentric grandfather who disappeared to the wilds of Africa in search of treasure, never to return. Winding passages, hidden tunnels, interconnected rooms, heavy antique snooker tables and bunk beds that evoke tales of pirates on the high seas combine to create a fantastical fairytale even before stepping from the doorstep.
The conservancy incorporates veterinary services, rehabilitation centres, community support and even a primary school for the local children, creating a greater sense of connection and understanding to all that lies beyond this magical property. Not only will children be entertained at every moment, but their perception and understanding of the world will also be continually expanded and challenged with every experience.
THORNYBUSH GAME LODGE, SOUTH AFRICA
At the heart of Greater Kruger Park lies Thornybush Game Lodge, one of the Kruger’s handful of dedicated properties. Catering to multi-generational families in particular, it is exceptionally-well suited to larger family groups.
Current refurbishments will also soon see the addition of a two-bedroom family villa, perfectly designed for families of younger children.
With several properties in the Thronybush portfolio, every effort has been made to cater for every visitor, and this includes young kids and teens. Every child under 16 will receive a complimentary ‘Little Ranger in Training’ filled with items that will be utilised throughout their stay as part of the Kids on Safari program.
Guides lead walking safaris throughout the property to discover the fascinating minutiae of the African bush and their ranger backpack is brimming with activities to keep them entertained. Youngsters can enjoy cooking workshops, creating cookies to be enjoyed by the whole family at afternoon teas, and if parents are seeking a little extra solitude, childminders and babysitting services can be arranged.
The fundamental notion at Thornybush is that everyone should be able to enjoy themselves equally and without compromise. Kruger National Park is wonderfully accessible and highly suitable for family travel; Thornybush is the perfect complement to this, and families will enjoy every moment without relinquishing the more dedicated safari experience.
DUBA PLAINS CAMP, BOTSWANA
The floodplains of the Okavango Delta, Botswana, are wondrously abundant, romantically secluded and delightfully tranquil, but can children also enjoy this distinctly unique location?
Great Plains Conservation, of which Duba Plains is just one camp, has created a Young Explorers concept that, while not constricted to a specific itinerary or program, will provide kids on safari with entertainment that is also subliminally educational. They will be taught key phrases in KiSwahili and seTswana, they will learn how to identify specific animal tracks and spores, as well as regional plant and animal species and even constellations on an evening’s stargazing outing.
Staff at Duba Plains Camp are only too aware that every visitor is a unique individual, and that sentiment extends to its junior guests. With an extensive catalogue of ideas and opportunities, they are able to discover what might intrigue children and cater to their interests specifically. More active kids will be taken on guided walks while the more creative might enjoy an afternoon’s crafts and painting. Even specific activities can be elevated or simplified according to the age of participants. Younger children might bake cookies, while older kids will work alongside the camp’s chefs to create a complete meal; a seven-year-old may peek at the bugs in a jar filled with delta water, while a teen might join a guide in a canoe trip.
The level of experience held by staff at Duba Plains provides endless opportunities for young guests of all ages and, while guardians are welcome to join, they are given their very own immersive safari experience while parents are given the opportunity to explore further afield, or simply unwind in the magical Okavango Delta.
ROYAL MALEWANE, SOUTH AFRICA
Royal Malewane has gone to great lengths to accommodate its younger guests, providing entertainment and inclusion in all activities while instilling an appreciation of and respect for the surrounding landscapes and their inhabitants.
Conservation is profoundly important at Royal Malewane, and while there is no compromise for luxury and comfort, visitors will often become aware of aspects that are carefully considered to reduce impact, uphold sustainability and protect the region’s ecosystems.
This echoes into its Royal and Junior Rangers Clubs, for young and older children respectively. Royal Rangers are entertained with activity books and wildlife spotting checklists, while teens are encouraged to take part in conservation activities such as bird and plant identification and creating animal track moulds. At its Waterside property – particularly well-suited to multi-generational parties – attentive staff will gather youngsters to hear traditional tales of monkeys and leopards, cultural stories passed down from generation to generation.
Waterside also provides a dedicated games room, jungle gym and supplies for arts and crafts, and staff are always eager to entertain their young guests.
These activities support the more conventional safari experience, so when parents wish to go on a game drive, the kids will be able to join them, kept entertained by their activity books, keenly watching for the next animal on their checklist and even sharing some of the facts that they have learned in their time with guides and staff.
This priority to provide interactive activities for kids on safari not only keeps children wonderfully entertained, but it also creates young conservationists of the next generation, instilling a sense of wonder, respect and responsibility to protect Africa and the natural world at large.
SOMALISA ACACIA CAMP, ZIMBABWE
Located in Hwange National Park, Somalisa Acacia has been developed as a truly family-friendly camp. Though this may not appeal to a honeymooning couple or octogenarians searching for a peaceful safari, it is wonderful for multiple generations and, while catering wonderfully to kids on safari, it does so with consideration for all ages of guest.
Accommodating a maximum of twelve guests, Zimbabwe’s intimate Somalisa Acacia camp comprises two family tents with inter-leading walkways between the parent’s and children’s rooms, each featuring en-suite bathrooms, and an additional two stand-alone canvas guest tents.
Somalisa Acacia camp has worked tirelessly to create an inclusive safari experience. Each child receives a pack filled with booklets, binoculars, activities and even sunglasses and a torch, and there are two packs to choose from, according to the child’s age.
But rather than being designed to keep children distracted and mindlessly entertained, these packs have been carefully curated to align with the surrounding wildlife and landscapes and to create curious and conscious young conservationists.
Somalisa Acacia is a wondrous camp, its large balconies opening onto the plains of Hwange, with elephant visits not uncommon and wildlife frequently visible from the walkways and observation platforms. A nearby waterhole helps draw numerous species to the camp’s borders and children can gain a much greater understanding of Africa’s animals from informative guides well-versed in educating kids on safari.
Somalisa Acacia is more than a safari camp that simply accepts children. It offers a completely immersive experience, allowing the to connect with nature, discover species, view wildlife at close quarters without enduring long game drive and enjoy many aspects of the safari on their terms, rather than just fitting in with the adults.
For kids on safari, Somalisa Acacia is a dream come true.
SABI SABI BUSH LODGE, SOUTH AFRICA
Sabi Sabi is somewhat unique as a family safari destination, and particularly well-equipped to provide for younger kids on safari.
While many lodges, camps and villas have activities and programs for younger guests, Sabi Sabi is one of very few to have a dedicated children’s centre. The EleFun Centre has evolved from over four decades of catering for families, and the result is akin to a safari day camp for kids.
A dedicated team of experienced carers shares stories, activities, arts and crafts, and age-appropriate games and adventures, catering to all visitors between four and 12 years old.
Activities provided nurture compassion for and awareness of nature in an array of ‘edu-taining’ experiences. With trained professionals caring for their children, this allows parents to enjoy their on safari activities, whether taking a half-day game drive, photographic expedition or pampering afternoon at the spa.
This dedicated kids’ camp is as fulfilling for children as it is relaxing for parents and the mutually-beneficial service comes at no additional cost, allowing parents greater freedom to enjoy their vacation while also creating a foundation for a deeper connection through the knowledge and lessons gained through the program. Children will be more engaged in game drives, excited to share their new wisdom, eager to spot the animals they have learned about and more attentive throughout the drive.
Evenings can be shared hearing of each other’s experiences and enjoying reuniting thoroughly fulfilled from the day’s activities. A family safari shouldn’t be compromised for its youngest guests, and Sabi Sabi makes the adventure equally enjoyable for parents and kids alike.
As adults, a safari is entertainment enough, bringing with it so much uniqueness and intrigue as to keep us fascinated through every single day. But for youngsters, game drives and hours spent searching for the same animals as were seen the previous day can become arduous and exhausting.
Parents shouldn’t relinquish their enjoyment of a safari with kids when faced with the first tantrum or sigh of boredom, so crafting an itinerary that accounts for the experiences of multiple generations allows young and old to have a wonderful safari that will be mutually shared and remembered for years to come.
Talk to your Travel Designer about creating a bespoke itinerary catering for kids on safari.