Top 10 Considerations For Families Going On African Safari : A family trip to Africa is a wonderful way for kids to learn about other cultures, unplug from technology, and let their imaginations soar as they encounter the rare plants, animals, and insects found in the continent’s wilderness.
On an African safari, there are age restrictions because wild animals frequently react unexpectedly to something that is slower, smaller, or younger than they are. You might not realize how overwhelmed your child or children will be by the size and variety of African wildlife and insects when they are taken out of the safety and familiarity of their home and backyard. Even if you believe your five- or six-year-old enjoys a wide range of creatures, they might feel overwhelmed in Africa.
For purposes of pricing, the majority of safari camps and lodges consider anyone older than 12 to be an adult. This is not intended to be interpreted as a minimum age requirement or as an age cap that might apply to certain activities. For instance, in order to trek with mountain gorillas in Uganda and Rwanda, you must be 15 years old.
WHY A KID-FRIENDLY (FAMILY) SAFARI IS A GREAT IDEA
Your children will undoubtedly enjoy game drives because they will see wildlife that they have read about or seen in movies. Nevertheless, this encounter offers a primer on environmental protection and stewardship. While learning how cooperation can strengthen communities, they will encounter new people and cultures. They will experience the natural world firsthand while learning about the value of biodiversity and how to restore wild areas. In our experience, children return home as future global citizens. Because of their experiences, they are more conscious of the world (and their impact on it), which motivates them to protect both people and the environment.
Beyond the dullness of a screen, safaris give families quality time together. Children (and parents) can take it easy and slow down while reminiscing about the day’s wonders at the dinner table or a fire pit. Reuniting as a family, both literally and figuratively, is a welcome change of pace.
WHERE SHOULD I GO TO EXPOSE MY CHILDREN TO THE LOCAL CULTURE?
East Africa is a fantastic location for cultural immersion. Around 50 million people live in Tanzania and Kenya, which are both rich in various tribes. There are about 42 different tribes in Kenya. There are more than 100 distinct tribes in Tanzania. Your kids will see Maasai people wearing traditional shukas (robes), which are frequently completely covered in beads, in Kenya and Tanzania. By visiting authentic Masai villages, speaking with locals, and frequently visiting a school or clinic, you can learn more about daily life in this area.
HOW TO PLAN A SAFARI WITH KIDS/ HOW TO PLAN A FAMILY SAFARI?
We focus more on camps than countries when it comes to taking kids to Africa. We are aware of which hotels provide the best nannies and other childcare assistance. To keep kids occupied in between game viewing drives, some even have a playroom with games and activities like scavenger hunts and cooking classes. For instance, Kwandwe Ecca Lodge in South Africa organizes treasure hunts throughout the reserve that include learning some fundamental compass navigation skills.
CONSIDERATIONS FOR FAMILIES GOING ON AFRICAN SAFARI
Families going on safari should be aware of a variety of difficulties, not the least of which is cost! Here are a few additional factors to remember:
- Minimum Age Restrictions
While most safari camps and lodges welcome kids of (almost) all ages, families going on safari should be aware that some have a minimum age restriction of 4 or 12 years. This will be one of the factors taken into account when choosing the appropriate lodging if you are booking through an Africa travel specialist. However, if making a direct reservation, be sure to ask the camp or lodge about its applicable child policy.
- Age Restrictions on Activities
Not every safari activity is accessible to kids of all ages. For instance, the minimum age for white-water rafting and gorilla trekking is 15. Another activity that can change at the camp’s or lodge’s discretion and may be related to the presence of dangerous game is the walking safari. When it comes to pursuits like walking, canoeing, or mokoros, you might need to use your parental discernment. One’s personal preferences matter in this area. A few organized, adrenaline-pumping safari activities may be just what you need to keep your teenagers focused (and having fun).
- Discounts for children
Most safari camps and lodges consider anyone over the age of 12 to be an adult for purposes of pricing. Please do not mistake this for minimum age requirements or age restrictions that might apply to particular activities, though. Children over 12 generally pay adult fares as a result. Children over 12 rarely receive discounts at safari camps or lodges, and even younger children must be sharing a room with an adult to qualify for a lower price.
- Children’s Activity Programs
Today, many safari camps have created kids’ activity programs, and some even have a family-specific guide. These programs primarily consist of a guide who adopts the kids under their wing for children between the ages of 4 and 8. They will keep them entertained with a variety of camp activities, such as storytelling, animal painting and drawing, birding, and bug collecting. Additionally, they will watch over them while the parents engage in other activities, such as game drives. This can progress into quick bush walks, or “poo walks,” where they assist the kids in gathering pods, feathers, insects, and leaves. Additionally, it teaches them how to recognize various animal droppings, feces, and game drives.
The majority of parents want to expose their kids to as many wildlife experiences as possible. Children are able to fully appreciate going on a game drive or walk when they are a little older (8 to 12 years). To this end, if it seems that the camp (or your agent) has not already taken this into consideration, it might be a good idea to ask for a private vehicle. This way, you don’t disturb other visitors and can go back to the camp when the kids have “had enough.”
- Private Vehicle
Families on safari who are traveling with young children will frequently be required to reserve a private game drive vehicle and guide. You should be aware of this and discuss it with your Africa travel specialist because it will increase the cost.
- Sleeping Arrangements
The camp or lodge may require one adult to sleep in the same room or tent as the underage child (or children), depending on the age of your kids. This is a precaution to prevent a scenario in which small children might escape from their tent. The animal might approach the tent or even attack, in which case they might respond poorly. Babysitters are frequently available so that parents can take a short break and eat dinner together without worrying about the kids.
- Meals and meal times
Families taking young children on safari should pay special attention to meals and mealtimes. Inform the manager of your child’s dietary needs and try to arrange mealtimes that are convenient and amenable to everyone. Some camps are able to set earlier mealtimes, but they might then demand that a parent be present when the kids go to bed. This is for your protection.
The most important thing is to pay attention to the safety precautions that the lodge or camp has set forth regarding running or walking around camp. Make sure your kids are aware of the limitations (and that you watch over their behavior). Many camps lack fences, so you might need to keep an eye on your children more closely.
- Swimming Pools
Swimming pools are common at safari camps and lodges. Check the pool fence to ensure your child has safe access if they are not confident swimmers. And go swimming with them if they want to (at your own risk).
- General Precautions
Protection from the intense African sun is one of the general safety measures for families on safari. On walks and drives, hats and sunscreen are essential. It’s imperative to use insect repellent and “cover up” any exposed skin in the early evening, especially in malarial regions. Make sure to explain to your kids why you should only drink filtered or bottled water.
The majority of safari lodges and camps place a big emphasis on tranquility, peace, and returning to nature! Your kids might not like this fashion at all! Many young children who frequently get bored and misbehave are really not suitable for an “adults’ safari”! Parents must watch out for their kids so they don’t interfere with other guests’ enjoyment.
CONCLUSION: IMPORTANT TO NOTE
Birth certificates for children under 18 must be provided to airlines and immigration officials as per new laws against child trafficking. This holds true even if both parents are taking the kids on a trip together. When accompanying minors, guardians are required to show affidavits from the parents as identification and proof of permission. Airlines will be instructed not to let passengers board without the required documentation. Watch for announcements on this (specifically, South Africa has already introduced such requirements, which are currently on hold).