The key to a fulfilling, exciting safari with children is proper planning. In addition to choosing the right accommodations to fit your needs, you also want to take into consideration the right mix of cultural activities and wildlife viewing. With the right safari planning you can have a trip that gives you quality family time.
A FEW TIPS
– Camps have different age limits so choose the ones that are appropriate for your children and that have family tents or rooms and special activities for children.
– Choose camps that have swimming pools or bikes so kids can let loose and burn off energy after being confined to a vehicle.
– Book a private vehicle at the camps.
– Schedule plenty of cultural activities. Children love to meet other kids from the local villages and see how they live, play and learn.
It can be a daunting task to packing for a family safari, but not to worry, we will guide you every step of the way – and actually show you what Leora packs for herself, her husband and the kids…and what she packs it all in!
A BALANCING ACT
It’s our job to figure out how to work in a delicate balance of activity and rest, safari and cities, fine restaurants and local hangouts. Without the right mix, things will not go as smoothly. Call us to discuss your concerns — we have been there and done that with the kids! It truly gets no better than firsthand experience!
Is Africa a good family destination?
Absolutely! Both children and parents alike will have the most magical experiences, and you’ll never forget the look on your child’s face when he or she sees an elephant or lion or any other animal in the wild for the first time! The uninterrupted time you are afforded on safari makes for a truly bonding trip and you’ll have memories that will last a lifetime.
There are so many activities available to keep everyone of all ages engaged. The camps and lodges have such a variety of interactive and entertaining activities for children, even including kids’ game drives. In Victoria Falls, there are adrenaline sports attractive to older children and adults. In South Africa, in addition to game viewing, there is hiking in some of the most spectacular mountain and coastal scenery. East Africa offers the opportunity to visit Maasai villages to learn about their fascinating traditions. Cultural tours of the townships in Cape Town are amazing eye-opening experiences. And for the family that wishes to give back to the community, such as through spending a day working at a local school, we can include a “voluntourism” aspect to your trip. All in all, there is so much that Africa has to offer!
Are certain countries better than others when traveling with children?
South Africa is ideal for travel with even the youngest of children and there are malaria-free game reserves if you are concerned about your children taking anti-malarial medication. Namibia is an excellent self-drive destination for the entire family. Botswana can be on the pricier side and does require frequent trips in small planes.
For travel to Kenya & Tanzania, we customize your trip around the ages of your children, with shorter game drives and ensuring you stay in camps and lodges with pools.
How can we make our family safari special?
A few things we always suggest are to make sure you have a variety of activities planned that will keep everyone engaged. Also, set the expectation that you are “disconnecting” and that cell phones, tablets, and other electronic games are off limits while you are on safari in order to facilitate bonding and sharing the experiences as a family. Another is to make sure that everyone has a camera and takes plenty of photos. You can then compile all of them into a photo album after your trip.
What are the age limits for children in camps and on game drives?
-Children 6 years and older are typically welcomed in many camps throughout Africa. Even some of the more luxurious camps do now allow children under 12 years of age.
– When booking exclusive use of the camps, the minimum age restriction is waived.
– For Southern Africa – All guests with children 12 years and younger are required to book and pay for private vehicle. The exception would be if you book an entire camp on an exclusive use basis or if you would fill a vehicle (typically 6 guests per vehicle) and would thus have sole use of it anyway.
– For East Africa – We generally book a private safari vehicle and guide, so these restrictions are less likely to apply.
What are the minimum age requirements for other activities?
– Boating: 6 years
– Canoeing: 12 years
– Mokoros: 12 years
– Walking: 12 years
– Quad biking: 16 years
Note: these are just guidelines and vary from area to area.
Why the age limits?
The primary concern with children is with their safety, but also with their impact on other guests. We have found that younger children do not have the same attention span as adults, and this can affect other guests’ experiences whilst out on activities.
What activities are available for children at the camps other than game drives?
Activities depend entirely on the ages of the children and may include mini-ranger courses, bush walks, fishing, tubing, frogging and birding, as well as special arts and crafts and cooking.
Are game drives too long for young children?
This really depends on the maturity and personality of the children. But it can be amazing to see how engaged, and quiet, children can be on a game drive. Many camps offer special children’s game drives that are more suited in length for younger attention-spans. Or, if you have a private vehicle, you can have more flexibility in the time spent on a game drive.
My family ranges from very young to grandparents. Will we be able to find activities that make everyone happy?
Yes! While you will be sure to get plenty of quality time together with your family, you can also do different activities. These vary depending on ages and interests. Some may go out on a game drive, while others go on a bush walk, while still another will experience some bow and arrow making with a ranger.
Will we have the opportunity to do something meaningful while we are there? I really want kids to feel like they are contributing.
You can volunteer at a school, a kitchen to feed the kids, or a week of home building. We can arrange a variety of volunteering activities- from just a few days to a week long experience, and catered to any age.
How will Rothschild Safaris make my family safari memorable?
Depending on your interests, there are a number of ways that we can make your safari special, from surprise bush dinners to unique family activities that might include volunteering, participating in animal conservation activities, and cultural experiences.
Are there special rates for children?
Many camps offer reduced rates for children between 6 and 12 years, sharing with full paying adults in a family room only.
Children older than 12 years, or staying in their own room, pay the normal adult rates.
Do the camps and lodges have special family rooms?
Many camps throughout Africa have special family tents or rooms where families of up to four guests can be comfortably accommodated. Some camps have two adjoining tents that are used for families.
Will my children be safe in a tent?
Once you have been escorted to your tents for the night, you will be safe inside. If you are traveling with young children, you will be accommodated in a family tent so your children will be with you.
What types of accommodations are recommended in cities?
We recommend booking hotels that have a swimming pool, room service and are in a nice central location so that you can walk around if need be. For the most part, depending on the kids’ ages, B&B or guesthouse type accommodations are not as suitable for very young children with a lot of energy.
I hear there is a lot of moving around on a safari. How will that work with so many of us?
Don’t worry! We will plan all the logistical details, and our team will meet you at each step. Depending on the size of your family, we can also consider private charter flights and exclusive use accommodations that may make it more efficient for a larger group.
Will someone take care of us?
Yes! There is always someone with you every step of the way. You will be met at every arrival and departure point by one of our representatives. If you want a single guide for the entire trip, we can arrange for that too.
Can I take my entire family on safari? It sounds complicated.
Yes! While the logistics can seem daunting travelling with so many people, that’s where Rothschild Safaris comes in. We take care of everything and handle those logistics for you- down to the last detail.
Do camps and lodges offer special children’s menus?
Children’s meals and menus are available at family-friendly accommodations. In addition, some camps and lodges may offer earlier dinner times for children since dinner is typically served quite late following the afternoon/evening game drives.
Can camps and lodges accommodate special dietary needs? Gluten-free, allergies,etc.
Most of the camps and lodges that we book can accommodate special dietary needs. Once your safari is booked, you will fill out a booking/registration form where you tell us what your dietary restrictions are. Your safari specialist will then notify the camp in advance.
Will I be able to find kid-friendly restaurants?
Dining in cities in Africa tends to be very casual and restaurants do accommodate children. The exception would be some of the restaurants in Cape Town and the Winelands that offer world-class fine dining and, more than anything, parents will want to have these experiences “sans kids” for a special adult night out anyways.
Do camps and lodges offer babysitting services?
Babysitters are available at certain camps and lodges. In addition, they are quite readily available at the larger hotels in the cities.
Please note, we are not medical practitioners and, therefore, the following recommendations should be treated as guidelines only:
Before visiting Africa, you may need vaccinations and medications for vaccine-preventable diseases and other diseases for which you might be at risk, depending on your destination. We highly recommend that you check with your healthcare provider or travel clinic and follow their advice. The Centers for Disease Control (http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel) recommends that you see a healthcare provider who specializes in Travel Medicine.
If your travel plans will take you to more than one country during a single trip, be sure to let your healthcare provider know so that you can receive the appropriate vaccinations and information for all of your destinations. Your healthcare provider will determine what you will need, depending on factors such as your health and immunization history, countries that you will be visiting, and planned activities.
To have the most benefit, see a health care provider at least 4–6 weeks before your trip to allow time for your vaccines to take effect, get prescriptions filled and start taking anti-malarial medication.
If I don’t want my children to take anti-malarial medication or get other vaccinations, can we still go on safari? If so, where?
Yes, and our recommendation would be South Africa. There are several malaria-free game reserves where you will get the same wildlife viewing experience as other parks.
Are there medical personnel at the camps and lodges?
Most camps and lodges that we use have someone on staff to assist in a medical emergency. Depending on the extent of the emergency, the person may be sent to the nearest hospital if required.
If we are in a remote area and we have a medical emergency, what procedures do the camps follow?
The camp, in this situation, calls for medical assistance, which could result in a helicopter lift to the nearest hospital. Thus, it is very important to take out travel insurance prior to traveling.
Since children can go through so many changes of clothes, what laundry services are available?
You can have laundry done daily at most camps, so you really don’t need a lot of outfit changes. You are moving around so much that taking extra clothing means heavy bags, which, in the long run, is just a burden.
At some camps and lodges, there may be a nominal fee for laundry. At certain camps, the staff will not wash underwear due to local traditions, so there is always laundry detergent available in your room.
What type of clothing will we need?
As a general guide, casual, comfortable clothing in khaki and neutral colors is recommended. Bright colors and white are NOT recommended and army camouflage is forbidden. We suggest dressing in layers as it can be chilly, and in winter, very cold, on game drives in the early morning and late afternoon/evenings. However, by late morning it warms up.
In addition to clothing, toiletries and medications, what else will we need to pack?
Refer to our complete packing guide for recommendations and a check list.
Many of our clients like to pack items that they can leave for local school and/or villages. If you wish to do this, we recommend lightweight, small, packable items. Some of the most needed supplies are pens, pencils, erasers, crayons and other school supplies. You can give these to the camp managers and they will distribute them appropriately.
How can I possibly survive the long flights with young children?
Depending on ages, pack coloring books, crayons and paper. Take your own headphones (the ones on the planes fall off or don’t always fit in children’s ears), buy a new fun book for the plane ride, and take lots of good snacks packed in small ziploc bags to keep them busy.
A little sleeping assistance never hurts either – we recommend homeopathics, but be sure to run this by your family doctor first.
Book overnight flights for the long hauls (from the US to Africa and back).
If you are connecting from the west coast, break up the journey, if time permits, by planning an overnight at the city of departure to Africa, such as New York or Washington.