Are your family keen adventure seekers? A safari holiday delivers unique thrills and the wonder of seeing an elephant in the wild for the very first time is truly magical for both parent and child. The prospect of a safari can ring alarm bells for some parents, however – long journeys, dust and dirt, different food, wild animals, mosquitoes and the prospect of sleeping under canvas can all be daunting with youngsters. Carefully considered, however, an African safari can be the most rewarding and memorable holiday you will ever take your children on.
Firstly, book with a reputable travel company and ask lots of questions. Here are just a few considerations…
- How complex is the journey? How long is the international flight and how long does it take to travel from the international airport to the lodge or camp? Don’t necessarily be put off by a long international flight especially if it’s overnight coinciding with your children’s usual sleep time.
- Are there any age restrictions at the lodge or camp or on the games drives? Are families required to book a private vehicle?
- Does the lodge/camp offer interconnecting rooms/ family-friendly tents?
- Is the area malaria-free? This doesn’t necessarily rule out a destination but precautions need to be taken.
- Does the lodge or camp offer children’s meals, toys, equipment, a child-minder, play area, pool and child-orientated activities? Some camps also feature guides who have been purely trained to guide children.
Red Savannah’s expert, Albee Yeend, has compiled a shortlist of lodges and camps that deliver adventurous family-friendly safaris with a few reasons to go during the Easter school holidays.
Kwandwe Private Game Reserve, South Africa
Kwandwe is home to four beautiful lodges, three of which are especially family-friendly, including two exclusive-use properties – Uplands Homestead and Melton Manor. These two private lodges include a private 4X4 safari vehicle, a dedicated ranger and a personal chef and butler. Ecca Lodge is also very well suited to families and is available on a non-exclusive basis. It has an interactive kitchen and a play centre for children.
Child-friendly highlights: Malaria-free area, private 4×4 for tailor-made game drives, children’s welcome pack, membership of the Blue Crane Conservation Club with walks, talks, cookery and craft sessions and the chance to take part in some conservation work. A children’s menu and child minders are also on hand.
What to expect this Easter: April is the start of the drier months and so the wildlife’s need to visit the waterholes will increase your chances of seeing the Big Five as well as the near-endangered cheetah.
A down to earth tented camp just outside the Etosha National Park. Four of the sixteen well-equipped en suite tents have sleeper couches suitable for up to two children.
Child-friendly highlights: The main house has an indoor play area with books, toys, activities and child minders available, whilst outdoors there is a play area with jungle gym, an old tractor, sandpit and children’s pool. Meal times and menus can be arranged to suit children.
What to expect this Easter: April in Etosha is the start of the dry season and the verdant vegetation means there’s an abundance of birdlife including colourful flamingos.
Ker & Downey’s Young Explorers Safari, Botswana
Choose from two adventure camps, or combine the two – Footsteps Camp in the Okavango Delta and Saile Camp in Linyanti, both offering family-friendly accommodation on a four day safari experience.
Child-friendly highlights: Whilst parents relax, the Young Explorers are taken under the wing of a fully trained guide and kept busy with fun activities, even learning some bush skills, such as tracking animals and making bows and arrows.
What to expect this Easter: The dry season in Botswana spans from April through to October, so is the best time for game viewing. In April the landscape is still beautifully green and the skies clear.
Royal Zambezi Lodge, Zambia
The Royal Zambezi Lodge has 15 beautifully furnished tents in total and welcomes children over 6 years old – there are family suites for those with young children and adjoining suites for families with older, more independent children.
Child-friendly highlights: The three Presidential suites have their own private pools, early dinner times are available and activities can be geared to children. The lodge also has a few resident animals to meet – Yale the elephant, Dave the crocodile and Jonathan the giant kingfisher!
What to expect this Easter: Lion sightings are likely at this time of the year and elephants can often be found meandering past. The rainy season usually ends in March and so April is beautiful, green and dry with passable roads. It is shoulder season and so rates are reasonable.
Little Makalolo Camp, Zimbabwe
Located in the heart of the Hwange National Park with a mere 6 tents, one of which is a dedicated family unit. Expect an authentic and traditional safari experience with a strong commitment to conservation and community.
Child-friendly highlights: Little Makalolo welcomes children on all normal safari activities including game drives, morning walks and village visits. It is probably more suited to active children aged 8 and above.
What to expect this Easter: Elephant numbers around the camp start to increase in April and sightings of lions, gemsbok, cheetah, buffalo, giraffe, zebra and wildebeest are all possible.
Albee Yeend is Red Savannah’s African safari expert and a Safari Awards judge. Her career in travel began accidentally after she fell in love with Africa on safari in Zambia. Since then she has travelled extensively in Africa, running luxury safari camps in Zambia and Botswana before returning to the UK.