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Family safaris in Africa

Nothing beats seeing your child’s face light up with the joy of coming face to face with their first elephant, or watching them learn to track game with a Maasai warrior. A family safari in Africa is truly magical.

We’re passionate about helping you introduce your family to the wonder that is Africa. This vibrant, colorful, sweeping continent has it all: wall-to-wall wildlife, white knuckle adventure, diverse landscapes from the otherworldly white clay pans of Namibia to the lush Okavango Delta, bustling modern cities with some of the world’s most revered eateries, remote luxury retreats, and the warmest, friendliest people you could ever hope to meet.

First time on safari? You can relax knowing that many of us have traveled to Africa with our own families many times so we’re confident in recommending camps and lodges that don’t just tolerate children, but actively encourage them. The truth is that we simply refuse to sell a family safari unless we truly believe it’s perfect for you, no matter how popular or well-reviewed.

One-of-a-kind experiences

We’ll tell you where your junior rangers can help chef cook breakfast in the bush and which camps have the best explorer programs. Where you and your family will enjoy authentic cultural interactions, be it a traditional lunch at a family home, a kick about with the local school children, or learning how to cook a ‘Smiley’ at a township cooking school. If your kids want to know where they can play baseball with elephant dung (who wouldn't?), we can help there, too.

The secret ingredient to an incredible family safari in Africa is variety. While Africa is certainly about the wildlife, even the most animal-crazy child will get bored sitting in a game vehicle for hours on end. That’s why we mix things up with various activities from kayaking to mountain biking and photography classes to ensure your family safari, be it for three or 23, keeps everyone from tots and teens to grandparents delighted from start to finish.

Top tips for your family safari in Africa

  1. Relax! Young children needs time to recharge back at camp so avoid cramming multiple activities into your schedule

  2. Slow down Spend a minimum of three nights in each camp to make sure you settle and make the most of your time

  3. Mix it up Different camps in varied habitats makes for fresh sights and experiences every day

  4. Add a beach break Children love to play in the warm Indian Ocean and meet friendly local families

  5. Bag the best views Binos are a must for adults but children will need their own too

  6. Dress to impress Hats and sunscreen are essential, but Africa can also be cold, especially at night. Don’t worry, we’ll let you know what clothes are best suited to the countries you’re visiting well in advance

  7. Embrace adventure It’s easy to underestimate children but they’re often stronger and braver than you think

Best for children 0 to 5

You may decide to choose a malaria-free destination like parts of South Africa for your family safari to avoid giving little ones a malaria prophylaxis. For grown ups, a South Africa safari will also pair perfectly with a trip to cosmopolitan Cape Town. These family-friendly lodges offer you shorter game drives and interactive experiences to enthuse and inspire your junior rangers.

Kwandwe Ecca Lodge - Eastern Cape, South Africa

Kwandwe Ecca is set within the malaria free Kwandwe Private Reserve in the Eastern Cape and is perfect for a first family safari. The lodge has been designed with families in mind and there is a playroom to keep the kids entertained in between game drives. They can also help the chef out in the kitchen baking pizzas or treats for afternoon tea. The guiding here is fantastic and the guides will be sure to make each and every game drive exciting, fun and educational.

Marataba - Madikwe, South Africa

Just a three hour drive from Johannesburg Airport Marataba is situated within its own private reserve in the Waterberg region of South Africa. It always combines well with Mauritius as you can avoid overnighting in Johannesburg and drive back from the lodge in time for your flight. The guides here are absolutely brilliant and will create a fun and educational experience guiding children through the wonders of the African bush and ending each evening with stories and star gazing around the camp fire topped off with hot chocolate and marshmallows!

Molori Safari Lodge - Madikwe, South Africa

One of the most luxurious lodges in Southern Africa, Molori is the perfect safari experience for children and parents alike. For families with younger children, take a private game vehicle for your stay so each game drive can be tailored to your children and you can decide how long each game drive is and be paired with a wonderful guide who can answer the endless questions from curious kids fascinated by the wildlife. The family suite here is absolutely perfect and with your own private butler you will want for nothing during your stay.

River Bend Lodge - Eastern Cape, South Africa

Also situated in the Eastern Cape, Riverbend Lodge is a perfect start or end to a trip along the Garden Route. With a complimentary babysitting service, parents can head out on longer game drives knowing that their children are in safe hands and having a wonderful time. On arrival children will be given a personalized welcome packs with fun activities for them to complete during their stay.

Best for children 5 to 10

Older children love East Africa with its diverse range of activities. The whole family will be overwhelmed by the wall-to-wall wildlife dotted over the Maasai Mara plains. Or visit Northern Kenya and walk with camels, sleep under the stars, visit local villages and schools or hand feed a baby rhino. Being guided and hosted by Maasai or Samburu men in traditional dress is an exciting experience for both children and adults.

Lewa - Laikipia, Kenya

Lewa is a 45,000 acre conservancy in Kenya’s beautiful Laikipia in northern Kenya. With three different accommodation options it is fantastic for families of all ages. What makes it so fantastic for younger children is the huge array of activities on offer from a flight over the conservancy in the yellow bi-plane to horse riding and camel riding to picnics and swimming in the Ngare Ndare Forest. Of course, there is also phenomenal game viewing and Lewa is famous for its black and white rhino population.

Tswalu - Kalahari, South Africa

Tsawlu offers a safari experience like none other in Africa. In the heart of the Kalahari, the largest private game reserve in South Africa, it's an incredible location for a first family safari. The two luxurious lodges offer the perfect setting for families and small groups of all ages to enjoy a wildlife rich safari, with a wide range of activities in the spellbinding landscapes. Children will wonder at the majesty of black-maned Kalahari lions and you will have to drag them away from the mischievous meerkats. Children will leave as qualified Tswalu Junior Rangers!

Mara House - Maasai Mara, Kenya

For families wanting to witness the Great Migration in the Maasai Mara, Nomadic Encounters Mara House is perfect. It is a three bedroom private house in the Mara North Conservancy and a wonderful option for families of all ages. The house comes with a butler, chef, guide and private game vehicle so and each and every day is completely tailor made around you and you can choose to do as much or as little as you wish from visits to the local Maasai Village to daily game drives to walks with the Maasai Warriors, Mara House is tailored around giving families an unforgettable safari experience.

Madikwe Safari Lodge - Madikwe Reserve, South Africa

Situated in the malaria free Madikwe Reserve, Madikwe Safari Lodge is the perfect lodge for any child fascinated with nature and wildlife. The lodge has been designed with families in mind and everything from the rooms to the menu have been created to give families the perfect safari. The lodge also has its own Eco House Kids Club where the guides and field rangers will carry on the learning experience from each game drive in the Eco House with fun activities such as making plaster of paris moulds of animal tracks and making collages with interesting things collected from outdoors.

Best for children 10 to 15

Travel further afield with tweens and teens to places like Zambia, where guides sit and tell your children stories around the camp fire. A Zambia safari must also include time at Victoria Falls where children love the land, air and water-based activities. Botswana also offers exciting and novel experiences including meerkat encounters (during which they'll perch on your child's head and use them as a lookout post) and quad bike expeditions through the Makgadikgadi Salt Pans.

Azura Selous - Selous, Tanzania

By the Ruaha River in Tanzania’s vast Selous Game Reserve, Azura Selous offers a safari experience rich in game and diverse in activities. Head out on foot to track wildlife walking along the river bank, stop for a spot of fishing and a picnic, if the water levels are high you can head out on the river. This is a remote corner of a wild reserve, you will feel you have it all to yourself. The beautiful suites have plenty of room for extra beds and the large infinity pool is perfect for cooling off in the heat of the day. Easy linking flights to Zanzibar make combining safari with the beach a breeze – it’s the perfect family vacation.

Kasaka River Lodge - Lower Zambezi, Zambia

Hippo Pod Family Lodge at Kasaka River Lodge is ideal for families wanting an exclusive and private safari experience. Sleeping up to six guests it is ideal for larger families. What makes Hippo Pod so great for slightly older children is the amount of exciting activities on offer all focused around the plentiful wildlife in the area. These include canoeing safaris, boat safaris, fishing trips and daily game drives. There is also a swimming pool at the main lodge for teenagers to make the most of between activities.

San Camp - Makgadikgadi, Botswana

For families who've been on safari before and are in search of a totally unique experience they need look no further than San Camp. The camp is on the edge of the Makgadikgadi Salt Pans, the remnant of an extinct super lake that once covered the majority of Botswana. As you look out to the horizon over the lake you can see the curvature of the earth. Along with daily game drives to search for rarer species such as the brown hyena, you can also head out onto the pans on quad bikes or perhaps visit to the semi-habituated meerkats which will often use your head as a vantage point as they look out over the pan!

Somalisa Camp - Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe

Somalisa Camp in Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park will blow your mind. A beautiful drive from Victoria Falls, Hwange is amazing during the dry season coinciding with school summer vacations. It's an authentic bush camp with great guides and staff, but wait until you see the swimming pool! Hwange is famous for vast elephant herds and during the dry season nothing tastes sweeter to a thirsty elephant than the freshly pumped spring water in Somalisa’s pool. If you're quiet you can slip into the shallow end and go eye to eye with the largest land mammal on the planet. For any age it's magical, but for kids: just WOW!

Children 16+

Get off the beaten track and experience Africa's wildest, most remote corners. Enjoy a walking safari in Zambia led by some of Africa’s top guides, go on a canoe trail in the Linyanti and get up close and personal with the animals, or trek for gorillas in Rwanda.

Luwi Bush Camp - South Luangwa, Zambia

Set deep in the heart of the South Luangwa National Park in Zambia this is Norman Carr’s most rustic and authentic camp. Due to its remote location, the game in this area is diverse and plentiful and there are very few roads meaning walking safaris are the main activity. Children from as young as twelve can go out on walking safaris if accompanied by a parent but we recommend Luwi Bush Camp for sixteen years plus.

Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge - Virungas, Rwanda

Trekking Mountain Gorillas is something that is on most peoples bucket list and is and incredible once-in-a-lifetime trip that is always an exciting adventure do to as a family. In Rwanda children over the age of 15 can trek the mountain gorillas so it is perfect for families with older children. Sabyinyo right on the edge of the Volcanoes National Park and is the perfect base from which to trek the gorillas from. After a couple of nights here finish off with a night in Kigali to pay a visit to the Genocide Memorial Museum – a haunting but stark journey through the 1994 genocide.

Selinda Canoe Trail - Linyanti, Botswana

Selinda Canoe Trail is a four night adventure along the famous Selinda Spillway combining canoeing and walking safaris in one of the most picturesque areas of Botswana. This is the ultimate adventure and perfect for families in search of something totally different from the usual safari experience. The accommodation is basic but comfortable in dome tents which are set up each night. This trip gives you the chance to take advantage of the spectacular scenery and wildlife in an exciting and unobtrusive way and with some of the best guiding in Africa.

Call us on (858) 523-9000 to start planning your vacation

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