An Overview of Family Safaris
A family safari can be the most memorable trip of all time, if planned correctly. Of course there will be more logistical planning involved, for example the time of year, the age of the children, what activities to focus on, and the budget.
If families are locked into certain times to travel, such as the summer holidays or Christmas breaks, then it is important to book your family safari in advance as these are very busy periods. The number of people traveling and the age of the children will determine the price of the safari. Most safari camps will offer discounted rates for children, and park fees are usually half of the adult fee.
For destinations, South Africa is also a good destination to consider for families with young children as most of the safari parks are malaria-free. Kenya is a fantastic family safari choice. The Masai Mara for example, has private conservancies with extra activities such as cultural experiences with the Masai, bush walks and private family safaris.
Family Safari Itinerary Ideas
All of our safari itineraries are curated and designed with you in mind. To give you some inspiration, here are some of our family itineraries that have been booked by past clients. Our specialists can customise everything and make the whole planning process smooth and fun!
Cape Town, Karoo, Knysna, Kwandwe Game Reserve8 NightsFrom $3,065 PPDiscover iconic Cape Town sights, explore and sip in the Cape Winelands, and marvel at the wildlife ...
Kilimanjaro, Tarangire National Park, Serengeti National Park, Ngorongoro Crater7 NightsFrom $4,849 PPThis itinerary includes three national parks in northern Tanzania - Tarangire National Park, the Ngo...
Nairobi, Laikipia Plateau, Borana Conservancy, Masai Mara and Diani Beach12 NightsFrom $8,514 PPThis itinerary is a combination of flying and driving, offering safari highlights in Kenya suited fo...
Cape Town, Madikwe Game Reserve7 NightsFrom $4,768 PPDiscover iconic Cape Town sights, explore and sip in the Cape Winelands, and marvel at the wildlife ...
Kilimanjaro, Ngorongoro Crater, Serengeti National Park7 NightsFrom $5,313 PPThis 8 day trip is designed to maximize your chances of seeing the Great Migration as the herds jour...
Nairobi, Ol Pejeta Conservancy, Samburu National Reserve, Masai Mara National Park8 NightsFrom $6,743 PPThis itinerary is a combination of flying and driving, offering safari highlights in Kenya.
Safaris Per Age Group
Choosing where to go on your family safari can be very much led by the age of your children and safety precautions in place to protect them. Please see our guide below on the best safari destinations to explore based on the age of your children.
Children under 6
For families with children under the age of 6, malaria is the most important consideration. We would not recommend children under the age of 6 enter a malaria area. Most of Africa has some malaria risk, except for South Africa. There are several fantastic game reserves in South Africa that are malaria free and are home to many lodges that specialise in children. They have two bedroom family suites and lots of safari activities specially planned to appeal to your children.
Children Aged 7 - 10 Years
In this age bracket we would recommend South Africa or Kenya for families. These children are old enough to go into malaria areas you can start to explore the big reserves like the Great Kruger National Park in South Africa and the Maasai Mara in Kenya. At this age, the children will really be able to interact with their guide and learn to track animals by their footprints, experience the local tribal life and embrace the beauty of an African reserve. Your consultant will be able to discuss the various camps and lodges with you and what they offer.
Children Aged 11 Years +
With older children the whole of Africa becomes an option for them as they do not need the specialised activities and are able to be more adventurous. Places like Victoria Falls offer a huge range of activities guaranteed to appeal to teenagers, white water rafting and kayaking are very popular.
Our Recommended Safari Camps for Families
A huge part of a family safari is the accommodation. A safari camp or lodge is so much more than just a place you rest your head. Of course the accommodation (bedrooms and facilities) have to be child-friendly and suitable for your family, but, in our experience and opinion, it is the safari camps guiding, activities and ambiance that will make or break your safari dreams. Our safari specialists have personally travelled on safari with their families, so can recommend a suitable itinerary for you. Here are some safari friendly accommodations:
Our Personal Experience
One of our Africa specialists, Elaine Learmonth, has travelled extensively on safari with her two young boys. Having lived in Cape Town for over ten years, she has had experience travelling with children and, given the right planning and preparation, she couldn’t recommend it enough.
“I took my two boys on safari for the first time when they were 3 and 5 years old. Having spent most of my adult life going on safari, I was so excited to share it with them. I must admit that I also approached the idea with a certain amount of trepidation! We visited the Waterberg area of South Africa, I chose this area as it is malaria free, an important requirement as my children were too young to take malaria medication and the road transfer was only 2hrs from Johannesburg Airport. My kids get very fidgety if they are in a car for too long! We stayed at a lovely tented camp called Safari Plains, who are very child friendly.
Despite my nerves, the trip was a huge success. The guide was great with the boys and made a real effort to connect with them and encourage them to interact with him. They were looking through the guides binoculars, exploring ant hills, following rhino tracks and learning what plants you can eat. There was always something going on and they were like sponges soaking up all the new experiences. What I learnt as a tour consultant is that there is a safari experience for everyone, its just about choosing the right lodge/camp!”
The Best National Parks for Family Safaris
With hundreds of national parks, reserves and conservancies to choose around the continent, we have put together a few of the best options for family safaris. Covering East and Southern Africa, get in touch with our specialists to design your perfect trip here.
Eastern Cape Private Game Reserves
These reserves are easily accessible and malaria free. The reserves are a 90-minute drive from Port Elizabeth Airport but many families will do a self drive from Cape Town along the coast to the Eastern Cape Reserves. It combines the sights of Cape Town, the stunning beaches of the Garden Route and safari. The area is made up of several private reserves, each reserve has its own lodges. This area is less ‘wild’ and more commercial but still offers a great safari and is a good choice for people with younger children. Our favourite reserves in the area are Kwandwe Private Game Reserve ad Amakhala Private Game Reserve. These reserves offer excellent game viewing (including the Big 5), and the lodges are well run offering guests a great experience.
Image credit: Kwandwe
Serengeti National Park
Located in northern Tanzania, the Serengeti National Park offers vast savannahs filled with an indescribable amount of wildlife. The park is accessible by flying into one of its many airstrips but for families, the best option is to do a driving itinerary which starts from Arusha through the Ngorongoro Crater into the Serengeti National Park. The benefits of this is that you will have your own 4×4 safari jeep and private guide, which is ideal for families with younger children. The Serengeti offers the opportunity to see the Big Five, as well as the wildebeest migration which is definitely a special sight, even for children! Many lodges and camps in the park are family friendly and offer facilities like swimming pools and bush schools.
Masai Mara Greater Conservancies
The Masai Mara is often described as the jewel in Kenya’s safari crown, and rightly so! In fact, the Masai Mara is regarded as one of the best safari destinations in all of Africa because of its dense and concentrated wildlife numbers. While the National Reserve itself is thriving with wildlife – elephant, lion, cheetah and giraffe aplenty – we would recommend that families stay in the Greater Mara Conservancies bordering the reserve. These conservancies, such as the Mara North and Naboisho Conservancies) are private which means that activities offered are more varied. These include day and night game drives and bush walks.
Located in central Kenya, the Laikipia Plateau is a great destination for family safaris off the beaten track. Although the wildlife isn’t as dense here as somewhere like the Masai Mara or Samburu National Reserve, the Laikipia Plateau is a destination offering much more than game drives. The area is known for its traditional farms and expansive land, and a benefit of such space is that it becomes an immersive travel destination. Children can enjoy a range of activities, from horse and camel riding, tubing on the Ewaso river, quad biking and visiting the nearby dog tracking units. The remoteness of the reserve however, is often reflected in the price.
Image credit: Loisaba Tented Camp, Elewana
Madikwe Game Reserve
Located about 4 hours from Johannesburg by car, the malaria free Madikwe Game Reserve is a great safari destination for families. It has a wide range of child friendly lodges that specialise in a family safari. The 75,000 hectare reserve borders Botswana and is lush due to Marico River and is home to the Big Five (Elephant, Rhino, Lion, Buffalo and Leopard) as well as being known for its Wild Dog and Cheetah sightings. Madikwe offers a more remote, high end safari experience than the Eastern Cape for those families looking to get away from it all. The price of a safari in Madikwe, does reflect this.
Africa Family Safari Q&A
Elaine our Africa Safari Specialist
Are some safari lodges better than others for children?
Yes, definitely! There is so much choice of safari accommodation that it may seem overwhelming. Many lodges only permit children of a certain age to stay as they are an adult focused lodge. Different lodges have different age limits on the standard game drives that are included in the price. If your children are younger than this limit, you will be required to pay for a private vehicle. Not all lodges offer two bedroom rooms which are so important for families.
Another important thing to consider with safari lodges is what experience you want, and how much you want to spend. There are some safari lodges and camps that we would not recommend for families, as they are focused on honeymooners, adult groups or photographers. Some lodges have an age limit for children too. We have a list of our favourite, and recommended safari lodges that we have personally stayed in with our families on safari.
What age is best to take my kids on safari?
This very much depends on the maturity and interests of the children. As a guide, most kids from 4/5 years old will enjoy being in a reserve and seeing the wildlife. For those who are a little more nervous about taking their kids on safari, we would say 8-10 is a great age where the children have lots of questions and are engaging with the safari itself. Teenagers on safari may be trickier these days as many safari destinations do not have WiFi. The amount of times we get asked this question is huge, but for those who do need and want it, we can recommend particular lodges that provide it.
How much is a family safari?
A family safari can range from £2,000 per person, up to £5-6,000 or more, depending on which country you go to, what time of year you go and where you stay. Generally speaking, the time of year is what pushes family safari costs up as many have to travel in the peak months (summer, Christmas, Easter) due to school holidays. If you are looking to keep costs down, South Africa is a fantastic choice for family safaris on a budget – particularly a self drive holiday. The safari experience here is second-to-none and many of the safari lodges accommodate young children with bush schools, kid’s clubs and guiding tailored for families. Most family safaris will be a twin-centre holiday, combining a safari and a beach holiday.
The most expensive part of this type of holiday is the safari, so reducing the number of nights on safari will also keep costs down. We would say three to four days on safari is a sufficient time for a family safari. Pricing a safari is quite complex and will depend on a number of things including children’s age and the accommodation set up, so the best thing to do is to speak to one of our Africa specialists on the phone so that they can talk you through the process, and create a tailor-made quote for you.
How far in advance should you book your family safari?
We would recommend planning your family safari at least 9 months in advance. The reason being is that for many families, there is a much smaller window of opportunity to travel due to school holidays. This means that safari lodges and camps tend to get booked up quickly, particularly in the summer months and over the Christmas period. If you have a specific lodge or camp you would like to stay in, then we would always advise booking this as far in advance as you can. For example, Giraffe Manor in Kenya is famous for its immersive experience especially eating breakfast while the giraffes stick their heads through the window. Because of its popularity, this hotel is booked up approximately a year and a half in advance! Similarly, if you are looking to do a specific experience like a hot air balloon ride over the Serengeti plains (for older families), then we would also recommend booking this in advance to save disappointment.
Can I do a multigenerational family safari?
Yes, absolutely. It’s worth noting that safaris are becoming increasingly popular with multi-generational families. Staying in a safari lodge with three generations (grandparents, parents and children) is definitely a great experience and there are lots of safari destinations we would recommend for this. A great choice is to stay in a private safari house that offers its own dining room and chef, its own swimming pool and private guides and vehicles. In Tanzania, we would recommend somewhere like Mkombe’s House in the northern Serengeti, and Jabali Ridge Private House in Ruaha National Park (southern Tanzania). For more adventurous multi-generational families, somewhere like Robin’s House in Zambia is a fantastic choice.
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