Top family safari holiday ideas & helpful planning tips!
01 Apr 2020
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A safari holiday is one of the most exciting and rewarding trips you can do with your children. Just imagine their expressions the first time they see a real lion, giraffe or elephant, or their excitement the first time they enter your safari tent to find it complete with beds and a bathroom rather than a classic camping tent in the garden.
Why go to Disneyland when you can go on safari and experience the real Lion King?
Family Safari Experts
At Far and Wild Travel, our experts who specialise in planning family safari holidays are parents themselves or have grown up going family safaris from a young age.
We feel it is important that you are able to talk to someone who has organised safaris for their own family, not just someone who knows which properties are family friendly.... there is a difference! We understand from travelling with our own children the risks, concerns and of course amazing rewards and memories that you get from a family safari, and so we are ready to help you plan yours!
Whilst every trip we create is tailor-made for your specific circumstances, we have put together a list of our favourite trip ideas whet your appetites for what can be done when looking at heading to Africa as a family.
To help you, we’ve divided these into trips with little ones, trips with school kids and trips with teenagers.
Trips with under fives
If you are travelling with children under five, the key thing is choosing a malaria-free safari destination.
The most popular option here is South Africa as areas are malaria free. Although the flight to South Africa is 12 hours, there is no time difference so you don't need to worry about your children battling jet lag.
It is also possible to do self-drive in South Africa which means that you can take it at your families own pace - morning game drives work well as children are often early risers.
South Africa and Mozambique
From: £5,575pp for 12 nights including flights.
Safari and beach
The Madikwe Private Game Reserve has grown up with family safaris as one of its specialities and the lodges there are set up to welcome visitors of all ages. Madikwe Safari Lodge is especially well-known for this, with one section of the lodge dedicated purely to families, with second bedrooms in each room for the kids, welcome packs, children’s’ game drives and extra activities to keep them occupied whilst parents are on safari. Equally, they do offer game drives for the whole family to ensure that this magical experience can be enjoyed together.
Combining safari with a beach break is a long-standing favourite with many families and so this trip rounds off with a few days spent on the island paradise of Benguerra Island in Mozambique. Stylish and modern, Azura Marlin Lodge is a great hang out for families, with direct access to the beach and warm waters of the Indian Ocean, as well as plenty of activities to enjoy throughout the stay.
For slightly older children, our top recommendation would be Kenya, although there are a myriad of good options to choose from. At this age children can visit malaria areas with the right medication, and many of the lodges are very family friendly with lots of activities to occupy the children during the day from warrior and bush schools to those with swimming pools.
We love Kenya as a family friendly safari destination as the Masai Mara offers excellent game viewing and a chance to see the big 5, plus you can easily combine with a few days on the Kenyan coast afterwards which always goes down well with kids!
Many even off in-house baby sitting so you can enjoy a dinner and drink in the evening with the other adults.
1. Kenya Family Adventure
From £3,820pp for 8 days (excludes international flights)
Kids Warrior Academy
Kenya is very much the spiritual home of the safari and makes for the perfect destination for families looking to enjoy this magical experience together. Our Kenya Family Safari Adventure embodies this spirit completely, taking families to two magical areas – the Samburu National Park and Maasai Mara National Reserve. With stunning landscapes and hugely varied wildlife in both, the two experiences are bound to capture the imagination of even the most reluctant traveller.
The joy of the trip is augmented by the fact that it hosted by our long-standing friends at Saruni, one of the leading safari operators in Kenya. Their lodges are wonderful, with spacious rooms to host the whole family, great food, charming staff and brilliant guides who really help everyone to make the most of their safari. The lodges also play host to Saruni’s Warrior Academy, where younger gusts can head out to explore in the company of their Samburu and Masai hosts, learn bush craft skills, how to make spears and bows, collect bugs and butterflies and a whole host of other child-friendly activities. This frees adults up to head out on game drives, although more than a few have been known to join in and gain warrior skills of their own.
This is followed by a wonderful fews days in the Masai Mara where you have an opportunity to spot the Big Five and also to experience staying in luxury tented accommodation, something that is sure to excite the kids at Little Governors.
From £5,282pp for 14 days (excluding international flights)
Breakfast with the giraffes at Giraffe Manor
Watching your kids faces light up and their squeals of delight as they have breakfast whilst giraffes poke their heads through the window and ask for food is sure to be a highlight of your trip! Whilst Giraffe Manor needs to be booked as far in advance as possible, it truly does offer a once in a lifetime experience unlike any other hotel.
From here head to the Masai Mara where you have unlimited game drives and an opportunity to see the Big Five. Karen Blixen Camp is very family friendly with family tents that share a veranda, children's menus and a host of activities such as bow and arrow shooting or bead making to keep the little ones entertained.
A hot air balloon flight over the Mara as the sunrises followed a bush breakfast is a remarkable experience and will have the children gasping in awe.
Finish off with a few days relaxing on the beach and enjoying the various water sport activities available.
Another great choice for keeping safaris is simple is a circuit through Northern Tanzania, with our Northern Tanzania Family Safari Adventure specifically designed to ensure you are in a private vehicle with your own guide for the duration of the trip. This means that everyone can build a rapport with the guide and they get to know you in turn, as well as allowing you to structure each day as you please, suiting early risers and late starters alike. The trip takes you through some of the most game-rich areas of Northern Tanzania, including the world-famous Ngorongoro Crater and Serengeti National Park, undoubtedly two of the best wildlife viewing areas in the world and hugely enjoyable spots for a safari.
If you are looking to extend this trip and enjoy some beach time then the golden sands of Zanzibar and warm waters of the Indian Ocean are an easy flight from the Serengeti.
From £3,473pp for 10 days (including international flights)
Family villa / chalet
Little-known Malawi is an outstanding spot for family safaris, indeed, our Founder Ben enjoyed a glorious safari adventure there with his Wife and Children only recently, putting it firmly at the front of the queue for places we love to recommend. Our Malawi Safari and Lake itinerary puts an emphasis on simplicity, with just two destinations to visit, the stunning Majete Wildlife Reserve which has the big five and then beautiful Lake Malawi. With family rooms at both lodges, superb guides, lovely staff and amazing food, your safari experience is like no other in Africa, with the chance to learn about the regeneration of Majete from a poached-out wildlife vacuum to a thriving park that is a model for conservation the world over. Of course, a few days on the lake is the perfect complement to this, with the chance to enjoy activities on and in the warm waters of the lake, relaxation on the beach and visit a local village – great for the kids to learn about life on the other side of the world.
From £5,335pp for 10 days (excluding international flights).
Kids Bush School
Overnight camping in the bush
For families really looking to immerse their youngsters in a true bush experience then a trip up to Laikipia is another of the outstanding options to consider in Kenya. A beautiful part of Central Kenya, Laikipia is made up of a series of privately-owned ranches, meaning lodges there are free to offer an almost unrestricted range of activities in some of the most beautiful terrain Kenya has to offer. Of course, with abundant wildlife around safety is paramount, but the hugely experienced guides will ensure you are wonderfully well looked-after. Our Classic Kenya Family Safari Holiday includes time at perhaps our favourite of all properties in Kenya, the wonderful El Karama. There really isn’t anything that can’t be done at El Karama, with amazing game drives, guided walks, swimming in the pool, alfresco lunches and genial staff, it really is the spot to be. The crowning glory of a stay here is overnight camping in the bush, with a guide and cook for company and dinner cooked over an open fire. You will spend the night in “stretch” tents, which are suspended between trees off the ground and make for a wonderfully fun way to spend the night. A wonderful experience and one we would encourage all guests at El Karama to enjoy.
9 Days from Adults: £5,639 per Adult and Children £3,196 per child.
Family tents available
Private vehicle means you can safari under your own steam
Camps very child-friendly
50% child rates apply throughout the year (when sharing with adults)
Great game viewing
Begin your safari in the Okavango Delta where you will be immersed in incredible game viewing from your own private vehicle which means you can set your own timetable and agenda. This area is known for its high number of predators including leopard, wild dog and lion. Then fly further into the Okavango Delta for three nights of some of the best game viewing in Africa and the chance to take a boat safari. You'll spend your final 3 nights at Linyanti Camp nestled in between the Okavango Delta and the Chobe National park. This is a great place to spot elephants and the Ngwana Club is brilliant for child entertainment, offering nature walks around the camp, arts and crafts and cooking lessons, especially designed for kids.
At this age, Africa becomes your oyster and families find that safaris are a great way to get teenagers off their screes and to focus on being present!
We love Tanzania and the opportunity to see the great migration, Botswana for it's water based activities, and both Kenya and South Africa for their ability to combine safari with other activities such as Cape Town or the beach
For the more adventurous families, teenagers often love activity based safaris - whether you do a walking safari sleeping overnight in a tent, gorilla trekking or a canoeing safari in Botswana, it's sure to be an adventure you never forget.
1. Big family adventure - Zambia and Malawi
From £8,260 for 18 days (including international flights)
Helicopter flight over Victoria Falls
White water rafting
Safari drives including night drives
Water sports including kayaking, paddle boarding and water-skiing
Zambia has, for many years been a bit of a secret hot spot, known only to savvier safari-goers, drawn there for its amazing wildlife and more rustic accommodation which perhaps was the reason it didn’t register with families looking to explore the bush. In recent years that pendulum has swung more towards family travel and our Zambia and Malawi Bush and Beach offers the chance to enjoy a remote and wild safari, but one that is enjoyable for the whole family.
Time in Victoria Falls is perfect for families, with a huge range of activities to enjoy, lovely places to stay and a range of restaurants. From there a flight takes visitors to the stunning South Luangwa National Park, the most wildlife-rich area in all of Zambia and perfect for animal spotters of all ages.
After your safari a few days relaxing on an island in the heart of Lake Malawi, swimming in its warm waters and exploring a remote tropical island is the perfect way to round off the ultimate family adventure.
From £5,520pp for 11 days (including international flights and gorilla permit)
Sandy lake beach
Fishing, swimming and boating
Golden Monkey Tracking
Rwanda is a fantastic place to go on a unique and active family holiday for those with teenagers ages 15 and above. For many years, it has been considered the best place in the world to go gorilla trekking and whilst this remains a huge draw, there are also monkeys and chimpanzees, canopy walks across ancient rainforests and crocodile free lakes for kayaking, swimming and fishing - there’s plenty to keep everyone occupied.
Rwanda is a modestly sized country which makes travelling between the various highlights quite quick and in turn, everyone happy. Our Rwanda Gorillas, Primates and Landscapes itinerary is perfect for families looking for an active experience that allows them to see much of the country. You’ll be kayaking along the shores of Lake Kivu one day and then trekking for mountain gorillas the next…
Starting in Cape Town you can explore the Mother City from a glorious base on the Atlantic coast before heading down to arguably the jewel in the crown for family properties in South Africa, the stunning Grootbos Nature Reserve, where all manner of activities can be enjoyed. The Cape Winelands may not jump off the page as an ideal family destination, but there is plenty to do besides wine tasting, although that can always be included!
A trip up the Cape West Coast is perfect for families, with the whole area feeling much like that UK family favourite of Cornwall, but with just a fraction of the visitors to contend with and guaranteed weather. Walks on the beach, learning to kitesurf and picnics amongst the dunes are just some of the activities on offer here. Rounding this trip off is a visit to the iconic Bushmans Kloof Wilderness Reserve, a beautiful spot in the Cederberg Mountains where visitors of all ages can learn about ancient rock art sites, canoe down the river and marvel at the simply stunning landscapes of the area.
When planning a family trip to anywhere in the world, it is always worth taking in to account the simplicity of the logistics, so Namibia should always feature high on the list for families.
Our Classic Namibia self-drive is easily adapted for families, with many properties featuring large family rooms so everyone can be housed under one roof. The simplicity of this trip lies in the fact that you are self-driving the whole way – no long waits in airports or cramming into small planes on charter flights. You are under your own steam visiting some of the most dramatic and interesting areas that Africa has to offer. Long journeys, often the bane of any family holiday become a true pleasure as travellers of all ages are mesmerised by the incredible landscapes that unfold as you travel through the breathtaking desert landscapes.
Big Cat viewing and elephants amongst other animals
Biking and walking trails
Local village visits
The resurgence of Zimbabwe as a travel destination as a whole allowed the country to reinvent its whole safari offering and as such, family trips there become a strong focus of the redevelopment of the safari industry. With short travel distances between locations, a diverse range of experiences and lovely places to stay, our Zimbabwe: The Best of the West itinerary is the perfect introduction to the county. With time at the iconic Victoria Falls, a safari in the incredible Hwange National Park where a huge variety of wildlife can be seen as well as a visit to the mystical Matobo Hills, there really is something for everyone on this trip. Activities, big game, ancient rock art sites and breathtaking views, a whole host of experience are incorporated in a small area, which makes travelling easy and keeps everyone happy.
From £6,350pp for 11 days including international flights.
Big cats and wild dogs
Away from the crowds
Boat safaris and fishing
Kayak and snorkel
Tanzania is such a vast country and whilst the North remains by far the most popular part of the country to visit, the South, a vast expanse of game-rich wilderness, is largely ignored, especially by families. However, those who do choose to venture down here are amply rewarded with amazing game viewing, wonderful places to stay and the chance to relax on the unspoilt Swahili Coast to round things off.
Our Luxury Southern Tanzania Safari and Beach combines a visit to the baobab-studded plains of the Ruaha National Park, renowned for amazing lion and elephant sightings in particular, with time in the stunning Selous Game Reserve. With abundant wildlife and stunning landscapes, the Selous complements Ruaha really well in that it offers boat trips, fishing excursions and walks as well as traditional game drives, so breaks up the safari experience and offers the variety that families crave.
A few days on the beautiful Swahili Coast to round things off is a great way to wrap up what will doubtless have been an amazing family adventure.
Thinking of planning a family safari? Here are our top tips to make it the trip of a lifetime.
Involved everyone in the planning. Particularly if your kids are a little bit older - talk to them about what they would like to do and what excited them. They might be really excited by some of the more activity based options whether a hot air balloon over the mara or doing a overhead walkway in a forest.
Allow some recovery time on arrival. Although you won't be suffering yet lag from the UK, an 8-12 hour flight can take it out of you and you don't want tired children on safari so consider a days recovery before you start.
Focus on quality not quantity. With children, shorter games drives (a couple of hours) can prove more rewards than being in the car for several hours which can lead them to get bored or impatient. Likewise, don't rush between camps to try and see as much as possible, more time in one place where you can settle in and so you don't loose travel time can be more enjoyable.
Play games. Animal bingo, eye-spy, treasure hunts involving feathers, first one to spot something that is.... all of these games go down really well in safari jeep!
Mix it up! Consider other safari activities as well as game drives - whether you are walking somewhere safe with a guide and learning about animal footprints and poo in 'bush school', undertaking a 'warrior' academy or feeding the giraffes at breakfast, adding a mix of activities will go down really well. With older children or teenagers you might want to consider gorilla trekking, fishing or cannoning. Visiting the local villages or markets can also be a great way to introduce children to local culture, and many areas are great at introducing children to conservation at a young age.
Think about downtime. Whilst safari is a great way to get your children off their screens and engaging in the present, make sure you've some activities for them to do during down-time - whether you've chosen a hotel with a swimming pool for them to play in (always popular) or you've brought an iPad with some films downloaded, a book.
Consider your own vehicle. Whilst more expensive than sharing, having your own vehicle allows you to set your own agenda and time you want to be on safari, and it also gives you peace of mind that you don't need to worry about others if your child has the odd tantrum. You might also consider a self-drive for this reason, one advantage of this is that it can save you money, however a disadvantage is that you can't give your children your full attention in the same way as if you are not driving.
Add some beach time. The classic safari and beach combination remains ever popular for a reason - it just works so well, especially with a family! A few days on safari followed by a week on the beach is pretty hard for a mix of entertaining your children and having some time to relax so you come back feeling rejuvenated.
Consider half-term. If you are looking to reduce the cost of a safari, consider going at half term instead of in the summer holidays or Christmas which tend to be peak times and therefore more expensive.
Speak to a pro. Talk to someone who has been on a family safari and get their advice for what worked well and the best hotels to stay in. If you work with a tour operator such as Far and Wild Travel, they'll be able to advise you on where is malaria free, what hotels are family friendly, where there are age limits etc.
Safety on safari
Safety is always the top priority when going on safari and especially when children are involved. Whilst wild animals can never be 100% predictable, a great guide will ensure that you never have to worry.
At Far and Wild Travel, we only work with the top lodges that we know are family-friendly, who have expert guides and an exceptional safety track record. We can advice on camps that either have co-joining rooms so that you and you children can go between the rooms without going outside or that have are fenced to keep animals outside of the hotel.
If you are travelling with young children, we can advise on which areas are malaria free.
At Far and Wild, our family experts all regularly undertake safaris with their own children, so we understand you worries and what precautions needs to be in place.
What to pack for your kids
Birth certificate - whilst not compulsory everywhere, it is generally advisable to take this when travelling with children to Africa.
Comfortable clothes - although you don't need to buy everything in green, avoiding bright colours is generally advised. Pick clothes that can be layered depending on the weather as it is often cold in the morning so you will want a fleece or jacket, but it quickly heats ups so you want to be able to remove layers. Don't forget to include a hat and sunnies!
Sturdy shoes such as trainers
A day back-pack that you can put entertainment in and clothing
Some emergency snacks (we find snacks always good to have to hand with kids!)
Kids binoculars so they can get involved and if they are older, a camera too.
Kid-friendly insect repellent and sun cream.
Hand sanitizer and wet wipes
Travel first aid kit and any medication
Entertainment for downtime such as cards or a iPad with a film downloaded
You can see our complete packing list for safari here.
Ready to book your family safari?
To find out more about booking a safari for your family give our experts a call on 01768 603715 or enquire here. Our family holiday experts are used to travelling with their own children so can help create a trip that is right for you.