Roar Africa

Exploring Africa Since 1688

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Kids on Safari

Many safari lodges do not allow young children (typically less than 12 years of age). This might include but is not typically for reasons of safety alone. It is usually the luxury lodges that disallow children and it is for the same reasons that other luxury lodges around the world do not allow children. Namely to ensure that other guests find the peace and tranquility that they may be looking for especially whilst on safari.

There are other reasons that some safari's might not be ideal for children:

(1) Boredom: As exciting as kids will find the animals to be their attention span is shorter. Quietly waiting for nature to unfold before them will enthrall you but could be lost on them. As will being restricted to the Land Rover for an extended time.

(2) Restrictions: For safety reasons you can not walk (or play) un-escourted in and around a safari camp unless it has a specifically protected area in which to do so. So children can not blow off steam climbing trees nearby while you relax at the spa or next to the pool.

(3) Health: Children are more susceptible to health issues from sunburn to something more serious.

Places to go:

South Africa is an ideal destination for family safaris for a number of reasons:

(1) There are numerous Lodge options including  some that cater specifically to children.

(2) Infrastructure is excellent so getting around is far easier than elsewhere in Africa and you'll have greater flexibility.

(3) Health services are world class and some safari areas are malaria-free.

(4) Variety: you can complement your Safari with something entirely different like a beach holiday.

All this said your children will love going on safari particularly if you take steps to make it more interesting and fun for them. There are a number of ways you can engage them more in game spotting activities but we suggest starting with choosing the right lodge.

Private Camp: Booking a private camp/lodge/villa in it's entirety is one luxurious solution and it makes for a fabulous family or private group holiday. Two private lodge examples are the villa 1933 at Lion Sands  which has specially designed and decorated bunk room for children (pictured below) and Singita Castleton Camp which has a trampoline and tennis court for entertainment. You'll be treated to the utmost luxury and yet have the freedom of your own rangers and vehicles so that activities and game drives can be co-ordinated to meet your family needs. Nothing is left to chance at lodges of this caliber.

Special programs for Kids: Booking an entire villa/camp might only make financial sense for you if you have a large family or group. A great option then is to choose a lodge with special programs for kids and an excellent example of this is at Shamwari Game Reserve in the malaria-free Eastern Cape of South Africa. 

Shamwari now offers a unique family vacation with a focused educational package for children four and over. Upon arrival, the children’s coordinator discusses activity options taking into consideration the family’s size, children’s ages and weather conditions. While children under four are welcome, they are too young to go on the game drives. In addition to the excitement of game drives for the whole family, children receive special treatment, including a sneak preview of Animal Planet’s “Shamwari—A Wild life” series and a private screening of a new film about animals. 

They’ll enjoy an exclusive visit to the Born Free Foundation Big Cat Rescue Center for an up close and personal look at lions and leopards that have been rescued from zoos and circuses around the world and brought to the Center to be rehabilitated, as well as learn about animal welfare and conservation. They will also experience an instructive tour of the Shamwari Rehab Centre to observe different types of wild animals being treated prior to being released into the wild. With advance notice a personalized DVD of their experience from the Shamwari Film Crew can be produced. And there are lots of other supervised social, sporting and arts and cultural activities to keep kids happy, too, including African bead making, working with clay, face painting, star-gazing, African story telling…

One of the things we like about a program like this is that you might just find that while your kids are being rewarded with exciting experiences and knowledge you are finding yourself equally rewarded experiencing gravity on that pool lounger; cocktail in hand.

Click for other posts on 1933 at Lion Sands and Singita.

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