Wild at Heart Journeys Family Safari Young Explorers Botswana Guide

Guides at Young Explorers camp are skilled at working with young safari goers.
Image via Young Explorers Camp.

Attention parents: Are you starting to think about what to do for your next family vacation? A family safari can be one of the most enriching and memorable experiences to have with your children. Far away from theme park lines and crowded resort pools, an African safari is an unforgettable way to spend time together as a family, totally unplugged, in the natural world.

For certain, a lot goes into planning a family vacation and family safaris are no exception. The key to a successful family safari is selecting camps that cater specifically to families with children and offer age appropriate activities: learning about wildlife and how to track animals; building fires; making local crafts; cooking lessons; making bow and arrows; target shooting; learning about the local cultures; and storytelling.


The first time I took my children on safari they were 5 and 8 years old. They had an incredible time and still talk about the experience even now at 18 and 21.
-Robin Francis, owner, Wild at Heart Journeys


Many of our favorite family-oriented camps offer family tents and discounts for children - some even up to the age of 21 - to encourage families to safari together. The following are some of the experiences we highly recommend.

Botswana

The Okavango Delta, in the northwestern corner of Botswana, is a World Heritage Site and classic safari destination inhabited with abundant wildlife, including lions, rhino, leopard, giraffe, hippos, elephants, crocodiles, and countless species of birds.

Wild At Heart Journeys Family Safari Young Explorers Leopard Fish Eagle

Leopard and fish eagle, just two of the abundant species that can be seen in the Okavango Delta.
Images via Young Explorers.

Young Explorers camp in the Okavango Delta is an exclusive, traditional tented camp that is set up along a hippo lagoon. With beds for just 6 people it is truly an exclusive family experience. This past November, we had the wonderful opportunity to spend time with “OP,” who heads up the Young Explorers program. His enthusiasm for the camp and program is infectious and we see why so many of our families rave about this experience, which provides parents and children the opportunity to explore the bush at their leisure - with a focus on fun!

Young Explorers camp’s Meru tents have sewn in floors, a flexible room arrangement, an en-suite bathroom, and guides/staff specifically dedicated to the guest family. Game tracking, bow and arrow making, and bush craft activities are all designed specifically with young guests in mind.

Wild at Heart Journeys Family Safari Young Explorers Tent

A totally enclosed family tent at Young Explorers camp in Botswana. Image via Young Explorers.

Another one of our favorite family experiences in Botswana is a 10 night family safari that visits multiple locations starting in Chobe National Park and stops in the Okavango Delta before ending in the Makgadikgadi Pans. With destinations and camps along rivers, seasonal lakes, and flood plains, these destinations offer thrilling and diverse wildlife experiences and beautiful, comfortable accommodations that are set up with families in mind.

On this outstanding Botswana itinerary, boating safaris are available on the Chobe River and in the Okavango channels and lagoons. Children and adults alike will thrill at the chance to see such a wide array of landscape and nature on display: elephants, hippo, buffalo, big cats, giraffe, antelope, zebra, wildebeest, flocks of pink flamingos, and so much more. And standing next to a 5300 year old Baobab tree, in the Makgadikgadi Pans, provides a sense of wonder at any age.

South Africa

In South Africa, families may want to focus on lodges in Malaria free zones that cater to children. Madikwe Game Reserve and Lodge is an easy drive from Johannesburg, yet features a vast, rugged African landscape. The Lalapa Lodge, meaning literally “family,” has no age restrictions, a communal pool, and a menu of activities to keep kids entertained and parents relaxed.

Wild at Heart Journeys Family Safari Madikwe South Africa
Family game drives and the Kidz Club Program at Madikwe in South Africa. Images via Madikwe

Ant’s Hill and Ant’s Nest are also accessed from Johannesburg and take pride in offering a flexible, life changing experience for all ages - grandparents to babies (no age restrictions). Horseback riding is also offered at Ant’s, with leadline ponies for the little ones.

Kambaku Safari Lodge, an owner/operator family-run lodge, is also a perfect destination for families in Kruger South Africa. They offer a range of activities to accommodate all types of kids. In camp, there is a pool, kids’ books, and games. Kambaku also offers a “Ranger for a Day” program and is home to the famous White Lions which cannot be seen anywhere else in the wild.

Bush Lodge in Sabi Sabi, South Africa, is luxurious yet comfortable, very family friendly, and a “hot spot” of biodiversity. Children of all ages enjoy their EleFun Center, a full fledged children’s facility providing hands-on “edutainment” for several distinct age groups with supervision by qualified childcare professionals. Meanwhile, parents can unwind and enjoy the spa.

Kenya & Tanzania

Wild at Heart Journeys Bushtops Bushcraft Challenge Beading Fire

Fire building and beading with the Masai at the Bushtops Bushcraft Challenge program.
Images via Bushtops.

Time spent in the Masai Mara or Serengeti is always unforgettable and the Bushtops Camps offers an incredible family safari experience in both locations. Their Bushcraft Challenge program is specifically designed for younger members of the family, introducing them to basic survival skills, local culture, conservation, and, of course, flora and fauna. Activities include learning to make fire without matches or lighters; completing animal spotting checklists (helped by rangers); identifying animal tracks and making a memento plaster cast of their favorite; learning about animal bones; practicing archery; trying out bead-making skills; baking Swahili cookies; and more. See Mara Bushtops Camp and Serengeti Bushtops Camp for more details.

As a generational family home, Lewa Wilderness in Kenya is very family friendly and welcomes kids of all ages. From pony rides, camel rides, Maasai games, and exploring for cave paintings to crab fishing in the freshwater springs, there are a huge array of activities here. For these and so many more reasons, Lewa was recently voted Best Family Safari experience in Kenya and is one of our client favorites.

Wild at Heart Journeys Bushtops Bushcraft Challenge Tracking Print Plaster
Making plaster casts of animal tracks in the Bushtops Bushcraft Challenge. Image via Bushtops

Another option for a personalized and comfortable family safari is Mkombe’s House Lamai, a totally private villa within Serengeti National Park. The house was named in honor of Mkombe Mniko, a beloved guide who connected strongly with children, and designed specifically with young guests in mind. Schedules at Mkombe’s House are entirely planned around kids’ needs and schedules, with a private guide to help decide what to do each day. Lizard hunting on the nearby rocks is a favorite with the little ones but children up to 21, traveling with their families, are considered kids in terms of rates and there is truly something for everyone to love here.

Start Planning

There are of course lots of questions and considerations with any family vacation and Wild at Heart Journeys has years of experience finding just the right itinerary and camps for a family safari - whether at these favorite destinations or others you have in mind. Contact us to get started.

 
 
 

Robin Francis of WAHJ has been providing African travel services for over 10 years and travels frequently to the continent to meet with partners and experience their lodging, amenities, and activities first hand. Partners regard her as one of the most knowledgeable African travel consultants in the US, who has also invested in giving back to the communities she works with. Robin and WAHJ are available for complete travel booking throughout Africa or consulting on bookings made through other providers.