Jetting off to Africa and embarking on a family safari holiday will give you and your kids an adventure you’ll cherish forever. The eastern region of the continent is swarming with an incredible variety of wildlife and is home to the Big Five game animals and the breathtaking Great Migration, both of which are enhanced by Africa’s jaw-dropping landscape. Going on an African safari tour is the perfect way to bring your kids’ favourite movies and TV shows to life, letting them live out their Lion King and Jungle Book fantasies by witnessing lions, elephants and more up-close.
However, taking your children with you on such an intense trip will naturally leave you with some concern about the potential dangers you could encounter. But, not only are most kids remarkably resilient to long flights, family safari trips are incredibly safe if you take the right precautions. What’s more, with a little forethought and common sense, you can ensure that your children won’t get overwhelmed by the experience either.
Choose a family-friendly safari guide
A good safari guide can make the difference between a stressful trip and the experience of the lifetime, and they are even more important when kids are involved. Those that are energised by children and know how to capture their attention will enhance your kid’s experience immeasurably, something that should help cement their passion for nature from then on. Guides with extensive knowledge and a deep insight into the specific region and its animals will help you all learn more about them, as well as give you a greater understanding of the cultures and sights you see. This will immerse you and your family in the trip and ensure you don’t ever feel like you’re watching from the sidelines.
And since they know exactly what they’re doing and where they’re going, a good guide can also make a huge practical difference to your safari experience. You’ll avoid pitfalls, such as becoming lost or getting into dangerous situations, both of which are particularly problematic when kids are involved. After all, wild animals pose huge risks if you’re not careful. As noted by safari operators Natural High Safaris, an experienced family safari guide can “ensure that everything runs like clockwork, but if anything unexpected comes up, they have the expertise to adapt to the demands of the environment.”
Keep your itinerary light
It’s important that your itinerary isn’t too jam-packed with activities. Beyond game drives, you may also want to try canoeing, horse riding and mountain biking, depending on how old your kids are. Younger children especially can find safari experiences overwhelming if they don’t have sufficient time to rest, particularly since the majority of safaris begin early—and we all know that grouchy kids are not conducive to a fun holiday! As such, it’s a good idea to limit the number of activities you do each day, especially as the travelling required for game drives take up a lot of time and energy. For this reason, opting to stay in camps which are closer to the game drives you’re visiting is also a good idea.
As well as keeping your day-to-day itinerary light, you should try and stick to areas in the same location each day. This can help you avoid a lot of travelling, with kids often finding it unsettling moving around too much in a short period of time. So, during a two-week-long safari, we’d recommend staying in each nature reserve for three to four days.
Take the right safety precautions
The starting point for keeping safe in Africa is to make sure your family gets the relevant travel vaccinations before flying out. At the bare minimum, you’ll require hepatitis A and typhoid jabs, as well as routine vaccinations like measles, tetanus, and polio. However, you may also need injections to protect against diseases like rabies, malaria, and cholera, depending on where you’re going, and the level of precaution you want to take. It’s essential that you get in contact with a travel GP as soon as possible to discuss your options.
After arriving in Africa, you and your children must be sure to practice certain safety practices. Regularly washing your hands (or bringing hand sanitiser), and not drinking tap water will keep you safer from any serious tummy troubles during your trip. And to avoid mosquito bites, be sure to use a repellent spray, wear long (but loose) sleeves and trousers, and use bed nets. When it comes to day trips in particular, be sure to pack water, suncream, and jackets or fleeces in case you find yourselves outside during the evening, when the temperature could drop sharply.