Klaserie River Sands

Planning a family-friendly safari in Botswana

Written by: Clare Doolan

Sharing a safari with children will give you completely new eyes for seeing the bush. A child’s excitement at spotting an impala for the first time is infectious enough to rub off on even the most seasoned of safari goers. When you start seeing the bush from a child’s point of view, the priority of ticking off the big five quickly fades – replaced by the excitement of watching dung beetles at work and imagining the inner-workings of termite mounds.

Kids-Safari

A family safari is a whole new discovery of the natural world. Not just for kids, but also for adults who usually focus only on photographing the animals that live in it. Best of all, you’ll have time to bond as a family while checking out fresh animal tracks and roasting marshmallows on the campfire.

Family-Safari

So, what do you need to know when travelling with children?

Don’t chain me down

Ask a small child if their idea of a holiday is being asked to sit still for four hours, twice a day (or more!) and you’ll probably get a firm no. Even the most disciplined of children will have a tough time containing their excitement when bumping into a pride of lions. They’ll want to wiggle around a little, point at things and start a conversation about what they’re seeing. So let them.

Family-on-Safari

Booking a private vehicle is the best way to relax at sightings without worrying about sideways glances from that empty-nester with the massive zoom lens. Private activities give parents space to relax without having to ‘shhh’ kids over stuff that’s really quite exciting (who wouldn’t want to tug someone’s sleeve and gasp ‘look!’ when faced with their first elephant?). Private activities also allow you the flexibility to start and end activities at friendlier times for kids who sleep longer and tire out easier.

Kids-game-drive

Variety is the spice of life

Mix up the schedule and keep the kids engaged on safari. Head off on a local village visit in Chobe or explore the salt pans with a quadbike and get introduced to the meerkats of the Makgadikgadi. Take the kids walking with the bushmen so they can practice speaking in clicks or give them a bush archery lesson. Many camps in Botswana offer child-friendly activities with some providing specialised programmes just for children. A private mobile safari is another sure fire way to give kids the space they need, as well as guaranteeing your guide’s undivided attention.

Kids-on-Safari

Where the wild things are

Many camps have age restrictions for children to guarantee their safety in the bush, as well as the comfort of other guests in camp. Private vehicles are often a requirement for children under 12, however Chobe is one area where these rules are usually more relaxed. Children are required to share their room with at least one adult to guarantee their safety. Many camps now offer family accommodation to prevent parents splitting sleeping arrangements. Children are generally not allowed on bush walks below 16 years of age, or mokoro activities below the age of 12, however certain camps will make exceptions or tweak these activities to make them safer for kids.

Kids-safari-game-drive

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  • Andrew

    Some common sense suggestions that apply in everyday life but this blog doesn’t really even touch on the basics of planning for Africa with your child. Some camp recommendations, safety, malaria, illness and cost considerations would be helpful.

  • Richard Smith

    Magazine blogs are often bite-sized bits of information rather than the longer articles you might find in print. They’ll often be fairly general as their audience may be everyone from the Africa-phile with teenagers to the first-timer with primary school aged kids.

    All your questions can be answered by a good family safari tour operator who will base the answers on:

    – Age of your children
    – When you want to travel
    – What long haul travel you’ve done before
    – You budget
    – And much more

    Some family safari specialists offer a guarantee that you’ll pay no more than booking direct, so you get expertise, financial security and impartial advice effectively for free. What’s not to like with that offer.

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