One of the most frequently asked question we receive from our guests travelling with small children, is “What age can children go on safari?”
There are no hard and fast rules which apply across the board when it comes to taking your kids on safari, and we suggest you consider 2 things when deciding whether to take them with you; one, will they be safe in the environment; and two, what will they take away from the experience?
Really, children of any age can join you on safari and enjoy an experience in the bush, as long as you choose the right lodge or safari camp. In our opinion, children over the age of 6 are better able to appreciate the big game safari experience as they can concentrate for longer periods of time, allowing them to enjoy what’s in sight and take in any interesting information a guide has to give.
Will they be safe on safari?
It is good to know that many lodges don’t accept children under the age of 6, although some even under 8, 10 or 12, and some don’t allow children at all. Other lodges and camps however – especially in areas where dangerous wildlife is present – will allow children of all ages, but don’t allow younger children on most game viewing activities and safari outings.
This mainly has to do with safety, namely sound and movement on the game viewing vehicle when near dangerous game such as elephant or lion. Children over the age of 6 can more easily understand to remain still or quiet in such an environment and not escalate a hairy situation.
Another thing to consider is swimming pools and open water which is often found at picturesque safari lodges. As safe as lodges and camps try and make their properties, one has to remember that this is wild Africa and accidents do happen. You need to make sure you choose a lodge or camp with appropriate facilities, so that you feel comfortable having your children around the camp.
What will they take away from a safari experience?
Safety, of course is of paramount importance, but we always advise parents considering a safari with young children to consider what their little ones will be able to take away from an African safari.
Children younger than 6 normally have to remain in camp with a child-minder while the parents (and older children) go out on game drives or walking safaris. Depending on the child and your wishes, this may or may not be possible.
While some camps and lodges aren’t very child friendly, there are special properties all over Africa which cater specially to families with children. These kind of camps offer total flexibility, excellent facilities, equipment and activities which can often make or break a family holiday with little ones.
Some of the best camps and lodges for families with children are often run by families with kids of their own. These owner-run camps often offer activities such as identifying bugs with a bush guide, learning about tracking different animals according to their spoor and even pizza making with the chef in the kitchen.
When deciding what age children can go on safari, it’s all about choosing a camp that has good family friendly activities, or is well equipped for kids. You can get in touch with our Africa travel experts for recommendations for camps with excellent children programs that are educational and fun, in South Africa, Kenya, Zambia and Namibia.
See the family travel section of our website now for more information on travelling to Africa with your family.