A family safari can be one of the most memorable vacations you enjoy together. There’s not much that beats the wide eye’d expressions of your children as they experience the wonders of the African bush for the first time. Especially watching a herd of elephant interacting or giraffe stretching down to drink. As magical as the bush moments can be, when planning a family safari there a few things that you need to be aware of. A family safari is different to a standard safari. Travelling with children and being in the bush has some limitations. Knowing what questions to ask and what things you need to be aware of can help you make the best choice for your family safari.
Best Time of year to Travel
Travelling with family means that you will most likely be limited to school holiday periods. A favorite time of year to travel in July. This is a good time for South African safaris as the grass is dry and animals are forced to visit watering holes and rivers more often. It increases the chances of good sightings. July is winter in South Africa yet the game viewing areas still enjoy warm sunny daytime temperatures. There are fewer mosquitoes around because of cooler evening temperatures and this reduces the risk of Malaria. July is also a good time to visit other African destinations such as Namibia, Botswana or Tanzania. This provides the option to combine more than one destination.
Family Safari Accommodation
Because of their set up, not all safari lodges and camps can accommodate children. It is quite common for safari accommodation to be un-fenced so that wild animals can freely to roam in and out of the area. For adults this is a magical part of the whole bush experience. There’s nothing quite like waking up to an elephant feeding right outside your window. But as you can imagine it does not allow a safe space for children to run around and play. Also rooms are often built some distance apart so that guests can enjoy some privacy and be surrounded by bushveld. Some lodges have special family units with two adjoining rooms. Keep in mind that the lodges that can accommodate children usually only have one family suite. When planning a family safari you may need to book as far as a year in advance in order to secure the family rooms.
Game Drives and Bush Activities
To get the best game drive experience requires patience, often sitting quietly for long periods of time. Most parents will know that this is a challenge for even the most well behaved children at the best of times. For this reason many safari lodges will insist that families book on a private vehicle. This has several benefits. With a private vehicle parents do not need to worry about children disturbing other guests. Game drives can be as long or as short as suits the family. Game drives can also be tailored to teach the children about different aspects of the bush. Learning about the small things and how everything fits together can be just as interesting for the parents. Some lodges special children’s programs where they learn to identify tracks, birds, plants and different wild animals.
Best Family Safari Destinations
South Africa remains one of the top family safari destinations because it has a good tourism infrastructure and a wide variety of excellent game lodges. You can also tag on a stay in one of the coastal cities such as Cape Town or Durban where there are many family friendly tourist attractions. Namibia comes a close second for a family safari destination. While distances to travel can be far, it is a great destination to explore by road. There are many interesting landscapes and rock art sites as well as wildlife and cultural attractions.
What is the minimum age limit for Children?
It’s wonderful to want your children to learn to appreciate nature and wildlife at a young age. However, it is recommended that children be at least 8 years and older before you plan to take them on safari. From this age they will be more likely to take in all the sights and sounds of the bush and appreciate the family safari experience.
Consider a Private Guide
Having a private guide for your family safari can enhance the travel experience for everyone. For a start it takes the pressure off parents to keep the kids entertained with all sorts of interesting facts and activities. The private guide will take on that role. When going on game drives a private guide can focus on the family interests and tailor the drive to keep children interested in the different wildlife sightings. Private guides also have a wealth of experience which means that the whole family gets to benefit from his expertise.
If you have any questions about a family safari please email Firecloud Adventures. We’ll answer all your questions with no obligation.