Families on Safari

Indagare founder Melissa Biggs Bradley went on her first safari at age 12 when she spent a month in Kenya. She was hooked then and has been back for her honeymoon, and multiple times since including with her own children. Melissa believes that safari is one of the top trips anyone can take in their life and that it is a particularly powerful bonding experience, especially for families. "In the bush every traveler is equal no matter their age so suddenly twelve-year-old boys and their dads are on the same learning curve," she explains. "Many of our members come back from safari and swear that they have never felt so close to their children as they did in the bush.” But Bradley believes that there are better windows than others for children to go on safari and that it is essential that family-friendly camps are chosen and considerations are made for an ideal experience.

What are the best ages to bring kids on safari? The ideal ages for a kid's first safari would be between 12 and 18 years old. Of course, some families may want to bring younger kids because they don’t want to wait and for a mature eight or ten year old, it can still be a great experience. Keep in mind, however, that younger kids may have a harder time with the long drives and the need to be quiet and still while watching animals for two or three hours. There are some camps in malaria-free areas in South Africa, where it is possible to bring very young children and that have staff and accommodations geared to toddlers. Camps in southern and East Africa generally do not take kids under the age of 6 and some camps will not accept children under 12. Walking safaris, too, may be limited to children 16 or above. The great thing about being on safari with kids aged 12 to 18 is that the whole family gets on the same routine—with no cell service—so you set out as a group, learning and seeing together. You share in the thrill of tracking leopard or spotting elephants and everyone is on the same wavelength, in a state of awe, marveling at nature and animals with no distraction or division. In a way everyone is returned to a pure state of wonder but together.

What kind of camps work? Many camps have age limits and some do not take kids at all unless a camp is bought out on an exclusive base. The reasons for this are primarily ones of safety. In many parts of Africa you need vaccinations and to take malaria prophylaxis and camps are not fenced so wild animals can and do wander in. Some camps that do accept children have one or two family suites, so parents can be under the same roof or canvas as their children. Some also offer special activities geared towards children such as elementary star-gazing, beginners’ photography or catch-and-release fishing, as well as amenities like babysitters and swimming pools. We generally advise all families to reserve a private vehicle (these are limited) so that they are not sharing with other safari guests and can go at a pace and for a duration that suits their needs.

What are the best itineraries for families? Taking into consideration the kids’ ages, we tend to build itineraries with some soft landing time after a long flight so depending on the route, you have time adjust to jet lag in more modern, familiar surroundings than a wilderness lodge. That could be a night or two in Europe on the way or in Cape Town, Johannesburg or Dubai. Similarly, we think it is important to mix up the kinds of activities and camps to make sure that every day doesn’t just consist of game drives, so we like to plan time riding elephants, exploring by mokoru, visiting Victoria Falls and the Kalahari or ending with some time at the beach for a marine safari.

More Inspiration

Plan Your Trip With Us

We only feature hotels that we can vouch for first-hand. At many of them, Indagare members receive special amenities.

Get In Touch
Indagare employees walking up stiars

Enjoy 30 Days On Us!

Start your Self Planner
membership trial today.

Unlock access to 2,000+ first-hand hotel reviews, 300+ Destination Guides and the most up-to-date travel news and inspiration.

Already a member?

Welcome back,
log in to Indagare

Not a member?

Forgot Password

Enter your email and we’ll send you a link to reset your password.

Type the first 3 letters to begin