Are you thinking about taking your family on an African safari?
Many people think that safaris are only suitable for adults, but this is not true at all. There are plenty of family-friendly safari experiences and kids have a huge amount to gain from an African family safari. Here are some of our favourite destinations for families looking for an African safari.
Five Destinations for African Family Safaris
Some parents might be hesitant to bring their children on safari. However, safaris are once-in-a-lifetime opportunities that allow kids to get up close and personal with wildlife and develop a deep and hopefully long-lasting appreciation for nature. The key to planning a successful safari for kids is doing plenty of research and choosing the right country to visit. Here is our pick of five of the best countries to experience African family safaris. We’ve also suggested a few family-friendly lodges and camps in each destination, but this is just a handful, there are many more which cater to families.
Kenya is one of the most popular destinations in Africa and offers a classic safari experience for all ages. Kenya has many different safari options, so it’s great for families who want lots of flexibility in their safari planning. The world-renowned Masai Mara National Reserve hosts the spectacular annual great migration. There are many other beautiful national parks for families to discover and of course, the stunning coast for some post-safari beach action.
Kenya, with its 24 national parks, has the highest number of national parks in Africa. Kenya is also among the top destinations for sightings of Big 5. It has a dense concentration of mammals, from the long-necked giraffe to the unrivaled predator – the lion. It’s not just the adults who are left mesmerised by the wild beauty of these animals, but even children are just as fascinated by them.
Most of these family-friendly safaris include a range of engaging activities for children such as horse-riding, rafting, swimming in the waterfalls, animal tracking, camel safaris and walking safaris. The wildebeest migration, one of Kenya’s primary attractions, might be off-limits to children of a certain age so it is essential to check with the camp. Children younger than five aren’t generally allowed on safaris in some camps and lodges.
Best Family Safari Lodges in Kenya
- Masai Mara National Reserve: Kichwa Tembo Tented Camp, Mara Intrepids, Gamewatchers Adventure Camp, Mara Springs Tented Camp
- Amboseli National Park: Amboseli Eco Camp, Sentrim Amboseli Lodge, Ol Tukai Lodge Amboseli
- Laikipia Plateau National Park: Tafaria Castle and Country Lodge, Rhino Watch Safari Lodge, Mutara Camp, Naro Moru River Lodge
- Samburu National Park: Samburu Intrepids Camp, Lion’s Cave Camp, Sabache Camp
2. South Africa
South Africa is an incredibly diverse country with plenty to offer as a children’s safari destination and a wide range of family-friendly national parks to explore, from huge Kruger National Park to smaller private reserves. Apart from spectacular safari locations, families can also experience bustling cities like Cape Town and beautiful beaches. South Africa has a rich and vibrant history and plenty of cultural influences that give the country a unique vibe.
One of the top destinations for viewing the Big-five, South Africa also has marine preserves like the Addo Elephant National Park Marine Protected area and iSimangaliso Wetland Park. These areas are famous for shark, turtle, seals and whale sightings, marine species loved by children of all ages.
There are many accommodation options that cater to families on safari with kids. These camps and lodges provide numerous activities such as mobile playrooms, mini-rangers program, baking with chefs, DVDs and child orientated safaris with excellent guides. Some camps like Twee Rivieren and Nossob have wildlife photography and flora displays and also provide night-time slide shows. At many of the lodges, children are especially drawn to the animals gathering around the floodlit waterholes at night.
Best Family Safari Lodges in South Africa
- Addo Elephant National Park: Addo Main Camp, Long Hope Villa, Kromrivier Farm Camp
- Kruger National Park: Jock Safari Lodge, Kruger Bush Camp, Ximongwe River Camp, Elephant Game Lodge, Simbavati Hilltop Lodge
- Madikwe Game Reserve: Madikwe Safari Lodge, Madikwe Hills Private Game Lodge, Etali Safari Lodge, Buffalo Ridge Safari Lodge
- Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park: Twee Rivieren Rest Camp, Mata-Mata Rest Camp, Nossob Rest Camp
Head to Zimbabwe to see the breathtaking Victoria Falls, one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World, and visit one of the national parks which offer a wealth of safari experiences ideal for families. In Hwange National Park, search for huge herds of elephants on game drives while in Mana Pools National Park, the river channels are ideal for an adventurous canoe safari, it is also a well-known area for excellent walking safaris.
The majority of the Zimbabwe camps have an age restriction for children below the age of 6-8, so contact the camp or lodge before you make plans to visit. These camps cater to older children with special meals and discounts while some campsites allow children to stay for free.
Victoria Falls, one of the most iconic tourist destinations in Zimbabwe, has a wide range of activities for children. Children in the age group 4-7 can enjoy canopy tours, crocodile cave-digging, bridge slide adventure and elephant-back children safaris. Children belonging to the age group 10-12 can travel over the wide gorge by gliding across a cable while kids aged over 12 can go rappelling, bridge swinging, white-water rafting and on game walks.
Best Family Safari Lodges In Zimbabwe
- Victoria Falls National Park: Pioneers Camp, Camp Nkwazi, Bushbuck River House Lodge
- Hwange National Park: Davison’s Camp, Linkwasha Camp, Robin Camp, Deetema Springs Camp
- Zambezi National Park: Great Plains Conservation Mpala Jena Camp, Zambezi Sands River Camp
- Gonarezhou National Park: Chipinda Pools Tented Camp, Mabalauta Campsites
Scenic Botswana is a diverse safari destination with highlights including the stunningly beautiful Okavango Delta, Chobe National Park with its huge concentrations of game, and the fascinating Central Kalahari Game Reserve. Botswana is often more expensive than other safari destinations, but everyone who has been there will rave that it’s well-worth the money. Find out more about Botswana and check out our full blog post on the best sights here.
Although Botswana doesn’t have numerous national parks, it does have some of the most iconic attractions, such as Kalahari desert, Okavango Delta and Chobe National Park.
Some campsites in the Okavango Delta, such as Tlouwana and Third Bridge, offer free services for children under the ages of 5-7. Though there may be age-restrictions in some camps, the majority of the camps in Okavango Delta have children-centric activities. The Young Explorer’s camping program in the Okavango Delta, designed for children, is a rich learning experience. They are taught fascinating skills such as bush craft, game tracking, making animal traps, how to identify animals and birds, learning to steer a mokoro, driving a vehicle for game drive, fishing and shooting tin cans with an air rifle.
Best Family Safari Lodges In Botswana
- Makgadikgadi Pans National Park: San Camp, Camp Kalahari, Jack’s Camp, Meno O Kwena Tented Camp.
- Chobe National Park: Tlouwana Camp, Chobe Marina Lodge, Elephant Valley Lodge, River View Lodge.
- Moremi Game Reserve: Third Bridge Campsite and Machaba Camp.
- Okavango Delta: Young Explorer’s Okavango Delta, Sitatunga Camp, Jumbo Junction Camp, Little Vumbura.
With the magnificent Victoria Falls, beautiful forests & rivers, huge tracts of wilderness and diverse wildlife, Zambia is a more adventurous option for families with older children who want a taste of the real Africa. Accompanied by excellent guides, South Luangwa National Park is home of the walking safari as well as night drives to find leopard while Lower Zambezi National Park offers canoe safaris along the Zambezi River.
Home to 20 national parks, Zambia is a safari gem with a healthy population of predators as well as numerous herbivores. The only reason Zambia isn’t one of the top destinations for big five viewing is due to the low number of rhinos.
Best Family Safari Lodges In Zambia
- Lower Zambezi National Park: Chongwe River Camp, Old Mondoro Bush Camp (min age 8), Chiawa Camp (min age 8), Anabezi Luxury Tented Camp (min age 12)
- Kafue National Park: Kasabushi Camp, Mayukuyuku Bush Camp, Shumba Camp (min age 6), McBride’s Camp (under 5s free)
- Kasanka National Park: Pontoon Campsite, Bufumu Campsite, Kabwe Campsite (all min age 6, 6-12 yrs discounted stay)
- Luambe National Park: Luambe Camp (min age 12)
Start Planning Your Dream Family Safari Holiday
Whichever country you choose, African family safaris are an incredibly valuable and enriching experience for everyone. If planning an African children safari seems overwhelming, we’re here to help you every step of the way.
Read more about top African destinations and don’t hesitate to contact us today to start planning your trip. We’ll put you in touch with our travel partners who offer safaris in the very best family-friendly spots.
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