Taking children on Safari? Brilliant idea. You will be making some great memories together as a family on Safari.
We have been lucky to introduce Tanzania and Kenya to many children over the years. The ideal children age to go on a Safari of course depends on the maturity of your child but generally we say 8 – 9 years old is a good age to head out. That is also the minimum age at some of the lodges on Safari.
Together when planning the Safari with the parents and grandparents, our Safaris with children have included more cultural stops. School visits are arranged, spending time with Maasai or Hadzabe tribe, village stops, and shopping in the local food markets. An eye-opening experience for your children and adults alike.
We have two families climb the highest mountain in Africa, Mt. Kilimanjaro.
Kyle H, 16 year old young traveler stands out. Her parents had already booked their Safari + Kilimanjaro climb and warned me she was not interested in ‘Africa’. Her friends were going to Paris. Well, when she came back after having made it to Uhuru Peak, the roof of Africa, she called to say she was so glad she went . She made great friends with the guide and crew on Kilimanjaro, learned Swahili, enjoyed berry picking with Hadza girls in Lake Eyasi and of course loved seeing animals on Safari. Whew!
We have a four helpful tips for you to consider when planning a Safari with your children.
# 1. Slow down.
We would definitely recommend spending at least two nights in each lodge. This way the children get a sense of ‘home’. Find lodges that welcome children and have activities to keep them entertained. We have a list of lodges that do just that.
You have places like Rhotia Valley Tented Lodge in Ngorongoro Area where your children will be playing soccer with the kids in the field or chatting about future aspirations and dreams. Life long friendship may develop from these evening chats.
Lodges like Mara Bush House in Kenya’s Masai Mara let’s you have some down time, if you like, while the Maasai tribe member takes the children out for an activity around the lodge [besides game driving]. They discuss wildlife and plants, take part in local customs, learn conservation — your children will come back with experiences they will never forgot.
# 2. Short hours.
Parents traveling with children realize that spending all day on a game drive may not be ideal. Take breaks from game driving from the vehicle.
Remember to stretch out during your game drive. Enjoy a long lunch at the picnic spot where the young can ‘run’ around a bit under controlled environment — ask your guide. Make stops to visit the local village and tribes. This breaks the Safari a bit and allows the children to get hands on.
Be prepared to spend a few hours in the morning exploring and then come back to the lodge. Enjoy the afternoon by the pool or reading a book or maybe watching a movie on an iPad. In the late afternoon /early evening, let them pick a drink of the choice from the lodge and head out for a sundowner where you get to enjoy your drink while watching a glorious sunset.
In Stone Town, we had plans to walk the alleyways in the afternoon and do some shopping. Well, diving into the Indian Ocean happened. Our children were happy to sit and watch the Zanzibari children jump the wall into the Indian Ocean for hours. Stop. I had to let shopping go and instead I captured their happiness with the beautiful sunset.
Our families on Safari do the same. We chose lodges with amazing views so they can stop. One family spent the whole day at Sayari Camp enjoying wildlife while lounging at the pool and their tent. The father told me he managed to read a whole book, a luxury for most busy parents while still enjoying elephants, birds, wildebeests and zebra strolling in the distance. A good stop for everyone.
#4. Savor the moments.
Traveling with your children is all about memory making as a family. Taking them on a Safari will inspire them to be future conservation leaders, wildlife researchers, and maybe even assist Tanzania + Kenya in other areas like education and technology.
“To travel is to take a journey into yourself” – Danny Kaye.
Our young Safari traveler turned 17 years old in Serengeti. The staff at Lake Masek Tented Camp in Southern Serengeti baked him a birthday day and the staff sang happy birthday to him … for breakfast. They were leaving by lunch time. We hope that memory is special to him and his family forever.
My Safari experience was enhanced this past June on our Safari. My 5-year-old son and 3-year-old daughter are huge Wild Kratt fan, a PBS show fan. It was great to hear my son asking our guide Elisa all these questions about the animals. Why is the giraffe tongue dark? Have you seen a caracal? What makes flamingos pink? You could see him testing Elisa with what he had heard from Chris and Martin Kratt.
When I asked him to record his sightings, he would somehow tie in the animals with his love for Star Wars. Death Star and the warthog. The journal with his observations is a keeper. My 3-year-old daughter, she wants to be Aviva and save the animals.
Take your children on Safari. It is definitely worth it!