Imagine a place where your child's classroom is the vast African savannah, and their teachers are the majestic wildlife that roams it. Welcome to "Safari For Kids: Top African Family Safaris," your ultimate guide to transforming a family vacation into an unforgettable adventure. Think of waking up to a distant lion's roar, watching your children's eyes light up as they spot their first elephant in the wild, and gathering around a campfire under a starlit sky, sharing stories of the day's adventures. See best All inclusive Safaris here!
From the malaria-free plains of South Africa's Kwandwe Ecca Lodge to the enchanting tree tents of Kenya's Mara Nyika Camp, we've scoured the continent to bring you the best family-friendly safari lodges. Each destination offers a glimpse into the heart of nature and an immersive experience that educates, inspires, and entertains. Whether learning bush skills in Botswana, treasure hunts in South Africa, or walking safaris in Zambia, these safaris are tailored to ignite a lifelong passion for wildlife and conservation in your little ones.
See our article on the best Family Vacations in Africa Here!
Where is best for a family safari?
South Africa is ideal for family safaris due to its family-centric approach, with most lodges catering to children. The country offers a safe, well-developed safari infrastructure, diverse wildlife, and a variety of child-friendly activities and programs. These include educational junior ranger courses and wildlife tracking, making the safari fun and informative. The rich cultural experiences and scenic attractions, such as beaches, enhance the family vacation experience, making South Africa a top choice for a memorable family safari adventure.
What is the number 1 Safari in South Africa?
The Kruger National Park is commonly regarded as the number 1 safari destination in South Africa. It's renowned for its vast wildlife, including the Big Five (lion, leopard, rhinoceros, elephant, and Cape buffalo). It offers a range of safari experiences, from self-drive adventures to luxury guided tours. Its various lodges and campsites suit all travellers, including families.
Which African safari vacation is the safest?
Botswana is often considered one of the safest destinations for an African safari vacation. It is known for its stable political environment, low crime rate, and high-quality safari experiences. Botswana's focus on eco-friendly and sustainable tourism and well-managed national parks like the Okavango Delta and Chobe National Park contribute to its reputation as a safe and responsible safari destination.
Are safaris good with children?
Safaris can be a fantastic experience for children, offering them a unique educational opportunity to learn about wildlife and nature firsthand. Many safari destinations cater to families with children by providing unique activities, educational programs, and family-friendly accommodations. Choosing a safari destination that matches your children's age and interests is essential, as is ensuring that the safari lodge or camp is geared towards hosting families.
Best Family Safaris In South Africa
1. The Motse at Tswalu, Tswalu Kalahari Reserve
The Motse at Tswalu, located in the Tswalu Kalahari Reserve, presents a unique and kid-friendly safari experience. Contrary to its seemingly harsh exterior, the Kalahari is an excellent destination for family safaris. Its malaria-free environment means no worries about medication for kids. The typically sunny weather is another bonus, ensuring outdoor activities are seldom interrupted by rain and offering plenty of pool time for children.
Here's why The Motse at Tswalu is great for kids:
Malaria-Free and Sunny Environment: The region's malaria-free status and generally sunny weather make it a safe and enjoyable destination for families, ensuring outdoor fun with minimal disruptions.
Junior Ranger Programme: This program caters to children of all ages with activities like archery (where kids craft their bows and arrows), animal tracking on foot, and learning to identify various animal tracks and droppings. Each child receives a backpack filled with exciting adventure guides and tools.
Educational and Engaging Activities: The lodge offers educational bush walks, where curious young minds can ask questions and learn about the wilderness in an interactive, hands-on manner. These activities are fun and instill a deeper understanding and appreciation of nature in children.
The Motse at Tswalu provides a perfect blend of educational and recreational activities set in a family-friendly environment, making it an ideal choice for a memorable and enriching family safari.
2. Kwandwe Ecca Lodge, South Africa
Kwandwe Ecca Lodge in the Eastern Cape is an ideal family safari destination, offering children a unique and educational experience. Part of its charm lies in its location on the malaria-free, laid-back Garden Route, making it perfect for a family road trip from Cape Town.
Here's why it stands out for kids:
Conservation Education: Children become part of the Blue Crane Conservation Club, engaging in activities like the 'Bugs & Bones Walk' to interactively learn about nature and conservation.
Fun and Educational Activities: The lodge offers a variety of child-centric activities, including supervised fishing trips and the opportunity to plant spekboom, teaching kids about environmental sustainability in a hands-on manner.
Safe Wildlife Experiences: Young guests enjoy the 'Stripes & Hooves' game drive, a safe way to encounter non-aggressive animals like zebras and giraffes, sparking a lifelong appreciation for wildlife.
Overall, Kwandwe Ecca Lodge provides a perfect blend of fun, education, and safe wildlife encounters, making it a great choice for a family safari adventure.
3. Madikwe Safari Lodge, Madikwe Game Reserve
Madikwe Safari Lodge in the Madikwe Game Reserve offers a uniquely engaging and educational safari experience, especially for children. The lodge's approach to family-friendly activities is imaginative and informative, making it a standout destination for a family safari. Its location in a malaria-free area adds to its appeal for family trips.
Here's why Madikwe Safari Lodge is great for kids:
Junior Survivor Bush Orientation: This fun and quirky program teaches kids practical bush skills like using tree branches as toothbrushes, finding directions, making fire, and sourcing water. It's a hands-on way for kids to connect with nature and learn survival skills.
Educational 'Bug CSI' Activity: Children are encouraged to explore and learn about plants and insects around the lodge. They can sketch their findings, creating personal mementoes of their safari experience. This activity not only educates but also fosters a creative appreciation of nature.
Interactive Tracking Experiences: Kids can engage in unique activities like moulding spoor in plaster of Paris and dung tracking to learn about animal behaviours and tracking. These activities are intriguing and provide a practical understanding of the natural world.
Adding to the adventure, a visit to Sun City's The Palace of the Lost City after the safari at Madikwe provides a perfect combination of wildlife exploration and resort-style relaxation and fun. This 'beach and ocean' resort is a great way to balance the excitement of a safari with the leisure of a family holiday.
Child-Friendly Safari Lodges in Zimbabwe
Somalisa Acacia in Zimbabwe
Somalisa Acacia in Zimbabwe, part of the African Bush Camps collection, is a fantastic destination for families, offering a safari experience that's both exciting and educational for younger guests. Their focus on child-friendly activities ensures that kids enjoy their stay and learn about the environment and wildlife in a fun, interactive way.
Here's why Somalisa Acacia is great for kids:
The Ngwana Club: This club specializes in creating an enjoyable safari experience for kids. It includes activities like nature walks around the camp, where children can learn about the local flora and fauna, arts and crafts sessions to spark their creativity, and cooking lessons for a hands-on culinary adventure.
Elephant Pool Viewing: One of the most thrilling features of Somalisa Acacia is its Elephant Pool, a watering hole adjacent to the camp that attracts herds of elephants. This provides an unparalleled opportunity for children to observe these majestic creatures up close, creating an unforgettable wildlife experience.
Engaging and Educational Activities: Beyond just fun, the activities at Somalisa Acacia are designed to educate young guests about their surroundings. Children can learn about conservation and the importance of wildlife protection in an engaging and accessible way.
Somalisa Acacia, with its blend of educational programs and exciting wildlife encounters, particularly with elephants, makes it a perfect choice for a family safari that's both enjoyable and enlightening.
Child-Friendly Safari Lodges in Kenya
Angama Mara, Masai Mara, Kenya
Angama Mara in the Masai Mara, Kenya, stands out as a remarkable safari lodge, offering an enchanting experience for romantic getaways and family adventures. Located on the iconic site of the picnic scene of the "Out of Africa" movie, this award-winning lodge combines sublime service, tasteful décor, and breathtaking views over the Masai Mara.
Here's why Angama Mara is great for kids:
Connection with Nature and Local Culture: Angama Mara believes in introducing children to the beauty of the natural world and local communities from a young age. The lodge offers activities that connect kids to the environment and the Maasai culture, such as learning the art of spear-throwing from a Maasai warrior.
Educational and Fun Activities: The lodge has a variety of engaging activities for children. Kids can harvest greens in the shamba for a 'garden-to-table' dining experience, enjoy stargazing with toasted marshmallows, and learn about local flora and fauna in a fun, interactive way.
Creative and Cultural Experiences: Children can also engage in creative activities like beading in the lodge's beading studio and playing board games in the library. These activities not only entertain but also immerse them in the rich cultural heritage of the Masai Mara.
While Angama Mara is a dream destination for couples and honeymooners, it also offers children a rich and varied experience. It is an excellent choice for families seeking an African safari that combines luxury, culture, and adventure.
Child-Friendly Safari Lodges in Zambia
Chongwe House, Lower Zambezi National Park in Zambia
Chongwe House, set in the picturesque Lower Zambezi National Park in Zambia, offers a unique and highly personalized safari experience, especially for families or groups travelling together. The award-winning exclusive-use property has four en-suite bedrooms and an intimate and comfortable setting for a family safari.
Here's why Chongwe House is great for kids:
Exclusive-Use Property: As an exclusive-use property, Chongwe House offers privacy and a personalized experience ideal for families. The four en-suite bedrooms make it perfect for accommodating families or groups, ensuring a comfortable and intimate stay.
Flexible Schedule and Dedicated Staff: With a dedicated butler, chef, safari guide, vehicle, and boat, families can enjoy a highly customized experience. The flexibility in mealtimes and game drives allows families to vacation at their own pace, catering to the needs and interests of children.
Family-Centric Amenities and Activities: The house features open-air bathtubs, waterfall showers, a swimming pool, and spacious indoor and outdoor lounges with dining areas. These facilities encourage family bonding and relaxation, making it an ideal spot for parents and children to enjoy quality time together.
Chongwe House's setting against a magnificent mountain backdrop, along with the tranquil stretch of the Chongwe River, adds to the allure of this destination. It’s a perfect blend of adventure, luxury, and comfort, making it an ideal choice for a memorable family safari.
Child-Friendly Safari Lodges in Botswana
Footsteps Across the Delta, now known as Shinde Footsteps, in the Okavango Delta, Botswana, offers an authentic and intimate safari experience. This camp is ideal for those looking to immerse themselves in the primal beauty of Botswana, especially on foot.
Here's why Shinde Footsteps is great for kids:
Immersive Walking Safaris: The camp specializes in walking safaris, allowing families to experience the Delta's most alluring and primaeval aspects up close. Walking through the bush, with every step resonating underfoot, brings a heightened sense of connection to nature and a unique perspective of the wilderness.
Simple, Eco-Friendly Camp with Comfort: Despite its no-frills approach, the camp surprises with comfortable accommodations. The three tents, while basic in appearance, are equipped with twin beds, a rechargeable lamp, a bucket shower, and a proper flushing toilet. This setup allows families to enjoy a rustic yet comfortable stay, with hot water available on request.
Intimate Wildlife Viewing and Dining Experiences: The camp's location in a private concession within the Delta, overlooking a lagoon, offers rich wildlife viewing opportunities from the tent's sandy porch. The intimate dining experience, featuring extraordinarily good meals, adds to the charm of the camp.
Shinde Footsteps' commitment to a small footprint and a big welcome makes it an ideal destination for families seeking an authentic, educational, and comfortable safari experience in the heart of Botswana's wilderness.
What to bring on Safari with Kids?
Preparing for a safari with kids requires careful planning to ensure everyone's comfort, safety, and enjoyment. Here's a list of essentials to bring:
Comfortable Clothing: Pack lightweight, breathable clothing. Include long-sleeved shirts and pants for protection against the sun and insects. Neutral colours like beige, khaki, or olive are recommended as they blend in with the surroundings and attract fewer insects.
Sun Protection: Bring hats with brims, sunglasses, and high SPF sunscreen to protect against the intense sun.
Insect Repellent: A good insect repellent is essential to guard against mosquitoes and other insects, especially during early morning and evening hours.
Footwear: Durable, comfortable shoes or boots are necessary for bush walks. Also, pack sandals or sneakers for lounging around the camp.
Binoculars and Camera: Binoculars enhance wildlife viewing, especially for kids. A camera or smartphone with a good camera will help capture those memorable moments.
Layered Clothing for Changing Weather: Mornings and evenings can be cool, so bring layers like sweaters or jackets. The temperature can change rapidly, so layers are key.
Reusable Water Bottles: Staying hydrated is crucial. Reusable water bottles are environmentally friendly and can often be refilled at the lodge.
Health and Safety Items: Include a basic first-aid kit, necessary medications, and perhaps rehydration sachets, especially for children.
Entertainment and Educational Materials: Books, games, or activity packs about wildlife and nature can be engaging and educational for kids during downtime.
Snacks: Although meals are provided, supplying your kids' favourite snacks can be handy, especially during game drives or transfers.
Wet Wipes and Hand Sanitizer: These are useful for quick clean-ups, especially when water isn't readily available.
Flashlights or Headlamps: Useful for nighttime, especially when walking around the camp.
Backpack: A small backpack can be handy for carrying essentials during activities.
Swimwear: If your lodge or camp has a pool, don't forget swimwear for a relaxing dip.
Remember to check luggage restrictions for small aircraft if you're flying into the safari lodge, as they can be quite strict about weight limits. It's also wise to inform the lodge of any special requirements or allergies.
In conclusion, a safari is an extraordinary adventure that promises a breathtaking encounter with wildlife and an invaluable educational experience for kids. It's a journey that leaves lasting memories filled with stories of majestic animals, thrilling game drives, and the beauty of the African wilderness.
Planning the perfect family safari requires attention to detail to ensure it's enjoyable and comfortable for children of all ages. If the idea of embarking on this unforgettable adventure with your little ones excites you, but you're unsure where to start, we're here to help. Fill in an enquiry here, and our team of experts will get back to you to assist in crafting a safari experience that's tailored to your family's needs and preferences. Embarking on a safari with kids is not just a holiday; it's an opportunity to create memories that your family will cherish forever. Reach out to us, and let's start planning the adventure of a lifetime!