Enjoying a Family Safari in Southern and East Africa
Setting off on a family safari holiday is something really special that you'll all be buzzing about for years to come. After all, an African safari is a huge adventure for both little kids and big kids (commonly known as parents) alike. Catching the pure amazement on your childrens' faces as they encounter their very first elephant or giraffe is an incredible feeling - one that you'll wish you could bottle and keep forever.
If you're planning a family safari, there are a few important things to keep in mind in order to ensure that every member of your family gets the most out of your trip. Safari lodges each have their own set of rules where children are concerned, so it's really crucial that you choose the right lodge for your clan.
Whilst just about every safari lodge accepts older children, many do not cater for children under the age of 12, so this is definitely something to consider when you're initially browsing through your safari options.
children on game drives
As a general rule, most lodges do not permit children under the age of 5yrs to join long adult game drives. This is purely to protect the safety of your kids and ensure that everyone gets a top notch safari experience. Game drives require sustained quiet and patience, which are both big asks from an over-excited child in Africa! Noise and sudden movement can attract unwanted attention from the wildlife or scare it away altogether, so they are real safari-spoilers that can put all the participants at risk. As small children are so wonderfully unpredictable, it's just not a safe environment for them.
Each lodge has it's own rules, so you should be sure to double-check exactly what these rules involve before booking your safari. After all, what could be more disappointing than finding out that your 8 year old cannot join you on game drives when you check in at the lodge?! Of course, we're here to help you find the best safari option for your family and ensure that absolutely nothing of this sort happens to you.
We've compiled a list of family-friendly lodges to set you off in the right direction. Many of these lodges offer brilliant chilldren's activity programmmes for any kids too young for adult game drives, featuring a whole host of fun-filled activities from ‘bush bumbles' and themed picnics to insect walks and traditional storytelling. Other lodges will offer babysitting services to look after your little ones while you're out on safari.
Alternatively, it may be possible for your family to hire a private vehicle and driver so that your whole brood can head out into the bush together on bespoke game drives according to the ages of your kids. This can be a useful way to get around any age restrictions, but please do bear in mind that it will involve additional costs.
Finally, if you're planning a family trip to East Africa, using a private driver-guide could be the perfect solution. Not only does this bring the overall cost of the safari down (as it is booked on a Full Board basis and avoids costly flights between safari destinations) but there are no age restrictions involved.
Guests have a choice of 4 en-suite air-conditioned bedrooms. There is a central area with a large patio, lounge and indoor kitchen area.
The lodge offers comfortable accommodation in 24 comfortable thatched rondavels looking up at the sweep of Ubizane Mountain. The chalets each have a fully equipped kitchen and all bedrooms are en-suite with ceiling fans.
Accommodation at Zululand Tree Lodge consists of luxurious thatched chalets raised above the floor on stilts. Each of the 24 luxury 'Tree Lodges' include an en-suite bathroom with shower, a kingsize double bed, a bar fridge, tea/coffee making facilities, and a private balcony with enchanting views into the surrounding forest.
Guest Rating: 4.3 / 5.0 based on 4 ratings
The main lodge rooms combine luxury and comfort with an African theme. Complete with en-suite bathrooms, the rooms lead onto a West facing balcony which offers breathtaking African sunsets all within steps of the pool.
Guest Rating: 4.5 / 5.0 based on 2 ratings
The camp can accommodate a maximum of 30 guests at any one time. The tented rooms are raised up slightly on earth mounds, overlooking the river and the plains.
Guest Rating: 4.0 / 5.0 based on 1 ratings
Migunga Forest camp offers 19 semi-luxury tents, all tastefully and simply furnished, and with a large attached bathroom set underneath a canopy of acacia trees. The tents each have their own raised platform with its own private veranda, allowing very personal privileged view of the surroundings.
Guest Rating: 3.0 / 5.0 based on 1 ratings
The 15 rooms are spacious and all have en-suite bathrooms with hot showers and toilets. For those chilly upland nights enjoy the warmth of your own African-style firepot.
Guest Rating: 4.6 / 5.0 based on 21 ratings
The rustic, unfenced Wildside Safari Camp consists of 20 en-suite tented chalets, including 4 family tents as well. Dining in the restaurant is an informal affair, where other guests soon become friends.
The exclusive Eagle's Nest, with 4 en-suite rooms, nestles high on a hill overlooking Entabeni Lake and Mountain, and is ideal for families or groups of friends travelling together. This luxury wooden and stone lodge built on stilts provides a perfect setting with spectacular bird's-eye views.
All of the 24 en-suite and air-conditioned private chalets are beautifully furnished and fully equipped to ensure your absolute comfort. Relax on your own private patio, star gazing and listening to the sound of the bush settling for the night.
Guest Rating: 4.4 / 5.0 based on 7 ratings
Lakeside Lodge is situated on the banks of Lake Entabeni and offers 24 luxurious, elegantly furnished en-suite bedrooms. View Entabeni's famed hippos from the comfort of your own private deck with the ever-changing colours of the Entabeni Mountain reflecting in the lake.
Guest Rating: 3.7 / 5.0 based on 3 ratings
Ravineside Lodge comprises of tranquil thatched wooden lodges on stilts with bird's-eye views. Each lodge has 3 or 4 luxury en-suite bedrooms with an African ethnic theme, making this ideal for families or groups of people travelling together.
Each of the 75 rock-built rooms are strung around the crater rim. Each has its own rock- enclosed balcony, and all enjoy completely uninterrupted views of the volcanic amphitheatre far below.
Guest Rating: 5.0 / 5.0 based on 2 ratings
Exclusivity is assured with only 8 luxury tents, all with private viewing decks, mosquito nets, fans and a luxurious en-suite bathroom with Victorian bath and outside shower. The 2 family tents offer space, luxury and comfort for parents and children and the generous en-suite bathroom also has Victorian bath and open inside shower.
Guest Rating: 4.5 / 5.0 based on 2 ratings
There are 10 luxury rooms in total, 2 with double beds and 8 with twin beds. All rooms have en-suite bathrooms, and are equipped with a hair dryer, tea/coffee station, satellite TV and a mini bar fridge.
Africa on Foot Camp has 5 chalets (2 of which are family units), ensuring an intimate and personal safari experience. To truly immerse yourself in the rustic bush experience, all chalets are equipped with lanterns while plug points in the main area can be used to charge your camera batteries.
Guest Rating: 4.4 / 5.0 based on 21 ratings
The Woodbury Tented Camp is set in the heart of the reserve, and the tranquil surroundings of the open bushveld allow you to truly experience a quiet getaway. The centre of the camp is an airy, thatched entertainment area, where you can soak up the African sun.
Amakhala Game Reserve - Winter 2014 OfferValid: 1 May 2014 - 30 September 2014.
Inspired by the textures and colours of African nature, each of the 12 beautifully appointed tents surround you with luxury. The en-suite bathrooms are fitted with hot and cold running water, rain showers and flushing toilets.
Bongani's rooms are ideal for families, groups or individual travellers and are set atop the Malelane Lebombo Mountains with private decks featuring magnificent wraparound views. All chalets and suites, each with 2 en-suite bathrooms and a private deck, are a subtle blend of timber and thatch, spaciously spread out across an impressive mountain ridge, within easy walking distance from the guest areas perched above.
The luxury accommodation is in 9 well-appointed stone and thatch en-suite chalets nestled in the clifftops overlooking the river. Each chalet has its own private deck with a hammock, offering incredible views.
Many safari lodges, particularly in South Africa, offer special children's activities for their younger guests.
These obviously vary from lodge to lodge, but in general the majority of the will include a shortened game drive, bush walks in search of insects, footprints and animal dung, and traditional story-telling.
You can find out more and see a selection of lodges offering these activities here...