Take your tribe out to Africa - nature's playground! Camping under star-filled African skies, a delicious dinner and singing around the campfire, hearing the roar of a lion at night and going in search of the “Big Five
on safari in some of Africa's finest national parks is magical for all the family. Our family friendly safaris are 'hands on', putting up your own tent, helping with the cooking and cleaning up is all part of the experience.
These action packed adventures are guaranteed to keep your little monkeys entertained, and travelling with Safari Joe we'll take care of all the finer details, to ensure you have a family holiday to remember! Visiting Africa with your children could be one of the most interesting, fun and educational holidays you ever take as a family. There are obviously many factors, including certain restrictions, to take into consideration. We have the expert knowledge and understanding to ensure you and your children's expectations of Africa are met and exceeded. Travelling the Safari Joe way is a bit like travelling with a group of friends - you just haven't met them yet! You can either travel privately as a family or in a group made up of 2-3 like-minded families, the kids tend to hit it off straight away, allowing adults to enjoy the group atmosphere and socialise in a relaxed environment. We often find that the whole family end up making lasting friendships with people from all over the world, staying in touch long after the adventure ends.
Safari Activities for Children
Children of all ages will normally be able to undertake game drives, which is the usual way to see wildlife. The best safaris for younger children are those that combine excellent game drives with other activities which are not age dependant, such as cultural activities, boat cruises and guided walks. A limited number of safari camps and lodges offer specialist “Kids Safari Clubs which run various activities to entertain children, and teach them about the bush. There are many diverse and traditional activities that the more creative family will love, such as taking part in making traditional Africa tools and garments to nature walks across the fascinatingly diverse landscape.
Accommodation on Safari
Most safari lodges and tented camps welcome children and will provide cots or additional beds in the accommodation. Some hotels also offer “Family Rooms', which are either larger than normal or have adjoining bedrooms for the children. You will need to decide whether your child/children is/are old enough to sleep on their own “ remember, accommodation units can be some distance apart. Our Adventure Camping tents are spacious enough for 2 adults and a small child.
With warm water all year round, endless white sandy beaches and plenty of shade beneath the coconut palms, the Indian Ocean coastline is a children's paradise. As for pursuits; there are plenty of water sports, environmental diversions (snake farms, nature trails and butterfly farms) and a wide range of cultural interaction (dancers, Masai warriors, nature guides, visits to schools).
Food and Beverage
Most places in East Africa are exceptionally child-friendly and will be pleased to provide children's meals (as early as you wish) and children's menus (fish and chips, burgers, ice creams, pasta etc). It is not recommended that either parents or children drink the tap water, but stick to the bottled water either provided or readily available.
Quality Time for Parents
Many lodges and tented camps offer babysitting (usually booked in advance). The larger hotels also tend to offer“animation teams', groups of specially trained young professionals who have been trained in keeping everyone (particularly the younger guests) “busy'. Pursuits include: nature walks, tennis, ping pong, volley ball, water sports and a whole range of “edutainment'.
What to bring
- Sensible shoes if on safari - sandals and bare feet are NOT advisable due to the presence of sharp thorns or bee stings
- Beach shoes - as protection against sharp coral, sea urchins etc
- Books, games and diversions for lengthy travel times
- Plenty of high-factor sun protection, hats and/or cover-up UV sun-suits
- Child-sized binoculars if you plan a safari, plus relevant guide books on animals, birds, trees
- A travelling medical kit (note: many anti-mosquito repellents are not suited to children, particularly those containing DEET). Natural citronella oil may offer a suitable alternative - but it must be applied regularly (we recommend and use MOSI GUARD)
- Travelling mosquito nets for cots/prams etc
- Your own snorkels, flippers and masks
- Canned baby foods, powdered milk, disposable nappies and the like are available in the larger supermarkets in the major towns and cities - but NOT anywhere else, so best to bring supplies from home.
Some huge positives about Africa as a family safari destination are as follows:
- Africans themselves live in a very family orientated society and have an affinity with children
- Africa is easily accessible from Europe with little time difference (no jet lag)
- There are a good variety of family-friendly safari camps and lodges, often with specific family accommodation options
- There are great beach destinations to combine with the best safari regions
- English is widely spoken and western food is readily available
- The overall quality of guiding is excellent, with guides able and happy to entertain and educate children as well as adults
A few realities do however exist:
- Much of East Africa is prone to tropical diseases and is malarial, so children will need to have vaccinations and take malaria prophylactics
- Whilst most campsites do not have any age restrictions some safari camps and lodges do not take children under a certain age
- Some safari activities are not suitable for younger children, such as walking safaris, gorilla and chimp trekking, canoeing or horse-riding
What age should my kids be to enjoy a safari?
The answer to this obviously varies according to the family involved and the destination chosen. Bear in mind that game-viewing is a patient exercise so the ability to sit in a vehicle for two to three hours is a great benefit. However, a gentle safari for a couple of days is suitable for children of all ages “ imagine the excitement of a four year old spotting their first giraffe or elephant! At the other end of the scale, a two week wilderness safari involving adventurous walking, canoeing and bush camping is only going to be suitable for much older children.
Keeping the Kids Busy in Camp
Children are much happier when they are occupied. Bored kids are not often good company! Luckily, boredom and Africa rarely go together, but there are a few things to consider. As game drives often take place in the early mornings and late afternoons, there is usually a fairly long period during the middle of the day which is spent in camp. This is usually spent resting, reading, playing games or cards, chatting to staff, visiting local villages or wildlife viewing from “hides, but you may wish to consider whether a swimming pool could turn this“down time into “fun time. Children receive a booklet comprising animal check lists, themed games and puzzles a s well as a list of environmentally friendly activities to accomplish (back at home they will be encouraged to email in drawings and photos of their safari as well as of the eco initiatives they have started which will be posted on Safari Joe's Facebook page for all to admire). Also included in the packs are crayons for the little ones and pencils for the older kids. Many lodges/camps offer guided nature walks - either around the lodge or camp, or in the bush.
Cultural Interaction and Learning
One of the genuine benefits of making the effort to travel with children is the exposure they have to different cultures and peoples. Africans have a natural affinity with children, and in addition to your children forming bonds with, and learning from, local guides, it is not uncommon to find camp staff entertaining your kids with local games, cooking, or enquiring conversation. Itineraries include fun and engaging activities for kids, and often some built-in free time for adults. Families might gather around a campfire listening to tales of Africa, ride horses or elephants through the savannah, or float in a hot air balloon for bird's-eye views of the famed Great Migration below. While scenic landscapes and thrilling game drives are part of many African holidays, family safaris also come packed with enriching cultural experiences. You could visit a Masai Boma -- a family homestead -- and a school where you'll interact with children from the community. Or, learn to say a few words in Swahili and make beaded bracelets and necklaces with the locals. African guides love children and take a delight revealing the secrets of the African bush to them. You might take a short walk seeking out the '…'small five''“ rhino beetle, elephant shrew, leopard tortoise, ant lion and buffalo weaver!