Can you go on an African safari with your kids? Absolutely!
A safari will give your kids a deep and resounding appreciation for nature and its wild inhabitants. Not only will close-up animal encounters be exciting for children, it encourages a better understanding of animal conservation and the part they can play later on in their lives.
This experience is not only rewarding for children, but for parents too. Game drives are a wildlife adventure that create cherished family memories, from the very-changing dramatic landscapes to the sights of wild animals that roam the untamed terrains.
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The wilderness is the best open-air classroom for learning, more than any school or zoo could teach. It is vulnerable and deserving of care to be preserved. Plus, passionate safari guides will be some of the most inspiring teachers children can have. Many guides dedicate their entire lives to the protection of precious species.
To ensure the best family experience it’s important to do your research into the best places, activities and facilities that work for your family. Your needs travelling with older children or teens will be different to if you have very young kids. To help you in your safari holidays search we’ve rounded up the five best family-friendly safaris and family-friendly lodges to enjoy.
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Madikwe Safari Lodge, Madikwe Game Reserve, South Africa
The Madikwe Safari Lodge is one of the largest reserves in Southern Africa. It’s been called a ‘Modern Noah’s Ark’ with more than 8,000 animals released onto the rehabilitative reserve.
Madikwe is one of the only places to witness endangered wild dogs in the wild. The reserve has gone to great lengths to preserve the wild dog population, making it a privilege to witness the packs roam freely and prowl on the hunt. You can expect to see prides of lion, an abundance of elephant and giraffe to name a few species known to the reserve.
As a family-owned lodge there is an emphasis on wholesome connection and many custom family-friendly tours await you.
The Lelapa (translating to Family) Family Luxury Suites are perfect for larger groups with young children. With nature themed bunk-beds, tailored kiddies’ menus and play areas near the swimming pool, Lelapa allows the entire family to engage in natural surroundings but within a comfortable setting where both adults and children can enjoy separate and personalised spaces.
There are many tailored programs for kids to enjoy at the eco-friendly centre. From identifying animal skeletons and endemic plants and trees, to learning about and caring for bonsais. As well as a big play area, children can bake and cook their own food with child-friendly crockery and watch nature-centred movies and documentaries. This is the perfect place for families.
Madikwe also host the Kids Safari Club. This is a unique programme that highlights learning from the wild. Kids will feel like budding guides with activities such as bug identifying, bush walks and dung tracking. Surprise treasure hunts, rock-painting, cupcake decorating, and dress-ups are creative ways to keep kiddies busy from early morning to late evening.
Game Drives at Madikwe Safari Lodge
The Lodge offers two daily game drives, morning and late afternoon safaris. During the day the Big 5 can be spotted as well as cheetah, wild dogs and the Secret 7. At night it is possible to spot apex predators like lion, leopard and hyena. Smaller animals like porcupines, honey badgers and bush babies are nocturnal and special to see in the wild.
Children older than 10 years are able to join safari game drives. Bush walks cover more ground and intimate sightings of elephants and giraffes; these are not suitable for young children.
Singita Serengeti House, Grumeti Game Reserve, Tanzania
The Singita Serengeti House in Tanzania, East Africa, lies in the Grumeti Game Reserve on the northwestern border of the famous Serengeti National Park. It is known as the ‘migratory corridor’ because it supports large herds of animals passing through. You can see large populations of giraffe, elephant, zebra and lion.
The Grumeti River sees cheetahs on the riverbanks, and the waters are home to crocodiles and hippopotami. This area is also teeming with beautiful birding life. The Grumeti River is an exceptional place to witness the treacherous crossing of Wildebeest during the annual Great Migration. The reserve was designated by the Tanzanian Government in 1994 to protect the Wildebeest migration route.
Children of all ages are welcomed at the Singita Serengeti House. Spacious two-bedroom family suites cater for younger children and the Lewis Suites are ideal for teenagers. Tasting menus can also be enjoyed by the whole family, curated for little ones and adults who can indulge in multi-course dinners paired with Singita’s renowned wines.
For younger children, babysitting facilities are available whilst adults can look forward to spa treatments or relaxation in their suites overlooking the bushveld.
Activities for the family are plentiful. Children are invited to join the Singita Mini Rangers Course that hosts animal tracking, bird viewing and bush survival skills. You may even be lucky enough to witness the great annual Wildebeest Migration from the proximity of your camp.
Game Drives at Singita Serengeti House
Twice-daily game drives in open-game viewing vehicles leave you spoilt for choice when deciding on activities. Children of 10 years or older can join their families, supervised on these safaris. Bush walking safaris are ideal for children older than 16.
Governor’s Camp, Masai Mara National Reserve, Kenya
The Governor’s Camp lies at the heart of the Masai Mara National Reserve; one of the best wildlife viewing areas renowned for impressive populations of lion, African leopard, cheetah and African bush elephant. This is an important biosphere as it is a protected ecosystem for endangered wild animals. The camp is based on the Mara River banks providing sightings of the resident hippos and crocodiles.
The Governor’s Camp celebrates family safaris, believing nobody is too young to step into the wild and discover the wonders of nature. Governor’s is best suited to young travellers with specially designed family-sized tents that can comfortably sleep up to four and include baby and toddler cots, if needed.
The most exciting addition to the camp is the Governor’s Mongoose Club. The club aims to keep children happily entertained and engaged with the idea of inspiring the youngest visitors and exposing them to an authentic Kenyan safari experience.
Educational activities at the Mongoose Club include learning about the importance of ecosystems, tree planting, and learning about Masai culture on school visits with local children. The club also teaches kids how to identify animal spoor and and to participate in bird watching with binoculars and cameras on the ready.
Kids can test out the camera traps around the camp, to capture animal sightings and can learn about constellations with an onsite telescope and laser star pointer. Making pizzas using eco-ovens and roasting popcorn on the fire are fun inclusions for the whole family to join in on. There is also a workshop where everyone can learn how to make handmade wooden bowls and even walk away with their own Masai jewellery piece after learning the tricks of the trade from knowledgeable Masai community members.
Game Drives at the Governor’s Camp
You can take part in three exciting game drives per day; sunrise, late morning and afternoon drives. Walking safaris are an eye-opening experiences for families and a favourite at the Camp. Masai scouts will guide you through the bush tracking giraffe, buffalo, hyena, zebra and even lion close up. Game drives and walking safaris are only ideal for children older than 10 years.
This will be the safari of a lifetime for children to gain a true appreciation for nature in this wild setting of the camp, learning life-long skills and whilst having heaps of fun in the process.
Footsteps Across the Delta, Okavango Delta, Botswana
The Young Explorers Adventure Safari and Camp at Footsteps Across the Delta is dedicated to introducing children to the beauty of Africa from a minimum age of 7, by combining educational and inspiring activities, along with lots of fun.
Set in the Eastern Okavango Delta, the location is perfect for spotting elephants and giraffes and going on thrilling game drives. Tents at both safari camps can be converted to sleep up to three people, for families with small children.
The tailored Young Explorer’s Safari allows families to experience exclusive African wilderness. Families will have their own private tent, staying on a campsite with onsite professional guides, a personal chef, waiter, housekeeper and Mokoro water guides – what an incredible experience!
The Young Explorers safari is a true African adventure with an emphasis on educational experiences; learning how to track game on foot in a bush walk or in supervised game drives if previously arranged with expert guides.
Children are taught how to make animal traps, start a fire with only two sticks, identify spoor and the endemic bird species of the area. They can also learn how to pole a mokoro, shoot at air rifle cans and upon completion, will receive a young explorer’s certificate, t-shirt, and cap to commemorate the achievement and experience.
Game Drives at Footsteps Across the Delta
Walking safaris, game drives in 4×4 vehicles and mokoro guided lake tours can be enjoyed by families with kids aged ideally over the age of 16 years.
The balance of land-based and water activities brings opportunities to see diverse semi-aquatic and aquatic species – commonly spotted are the red lechwe and hippos. The area is also known for sightings of endangered wild dogs, lions, leopards and has regular appearances from herds of impala and giraffe as well not to mention thriving bird-life.
Somalisa Acacia, Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe
Deep into the Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe, Somalisa Acacia Camp is turning heads with exhilarating itineraries and authentic African safari accommodation. The park is proudly home to more than 100 species of mammal and 400 species of bird. It has the largest variety of mammals in any national park not just in Africa but in national parks around the world. It is home to one of the largest free-roaming populations of elephants, making it a noteworthy destination to visit and tick off your African destination bucket list!
Somalisa Acacia Camp provides an unforgettable experience at the Hwange Lodge for families with young children who will fall in love with the African bush during their enrichening stay.
The camp is designed especially for families. The family units each have interconnecting ensuite rooms for space and comfort. This will truly create an ambience of a homely retreat in the wilderness.
The Ngwana Club caters to family needs, entertaining younger safari enthusiasts and keeping children engaged in informative activities with nature walks around the camp, spotting wildlife, pizza cooking lessons and tastings to fill hungry bellies, and sustain young minds for the day. Arts and crafts, painting, and bead-making sessions are a favourite activity for children to create their own specialised mementos from their safari stay.
Cultural excursions to local schools and outreach programs bring children of different backgrounds together for shared learning experiences. Children are even provided with mini-ranger outfits to feel part of the conservation community and learn from their expert guides.
At the end of a full day of fun, storytelling under the stars, at the campsite with guides, brings family members together to reflect on safari sightings and memorable moments.
Game Drives at Somalisa Acacia
The camp guides two daily game drives; one in the morning and the afternoon. Young children are allowed at discretion of the guide and under parental supervision. During a game drive you can expect to see elephants, cheetah, zebra, giraffe and hippos, all in close proximity to your camp.
Going on a safari trip with the kids is a completely unique experience that allows families to reconnect with one another and to slow down and take a step back from the hectic pace of everyday life. An African family safari is time for families to learn together, to embrace talking and laughing around a campfire and, of course, to share unique wildlife sightings.
Children can learn how to conserve and protect their environment from a young age after experiencing Africa for themselves. We hope you consider embarking on an African safari with kids to some of these 5 destination African safari packages.