A family safari can be the vacation of a lifetime, if you take the time to think about your needs and do a little advance planning. When planned properly it can become the vacation your children talk about for years to come. Here are some ideas for creating a better experience.
Consider your children's ages.
Many safari lodges and game reserves have age requirements. For safety reasons, these can be as high as 12 years. Small children can wander off. Long jeep rides and staying very quiet can be difficult for small children. And if your children are under 10, consider limiting your trip to malaria free areas. Malaria treatments can be difficult for small children to endure.
Plan your schedule wisely.
Know your children and consider what will harmonize with their interests, likes and dislikes rather than forcing them into a particular itinerary. If needed, work with a safari tour company that can plan a safari customized to your needs.
Things to consider include:
1. How do your children handle new and strange things? Family safari schedules can get hectic. There are other tourists and everyone is trying to see as much as possible. There are unique transportation, lodging and cuisine factors to deal with on a daily basis
2. Are your children outgoing and adventurous or quiet and shy? If it’s the latter, you might want to plan your safari vacation with the idea of finding a tour that provides camps and activities for kids, at the camp or lodge. Most tour companies can provide information on packages with lodges that have pools, fishing, wildlife picnics, camel rides, visits to local villages and more.
3. Are your children fussy eaters? Most safari camps order food in advance and serve it buffet style. If your children are fussy about what they eat, try and find out what the menu options will be in advance and then either bring along some of your child’s favorite foods or get them used to some of the new food choices before you depart.
4. What can you do to keep your children from getting bored on long game drives? Making a game of wildlife spotting can help. Make sure they have a camera and an animal checklist. Taking your wildlife drives early in the morning or late in the afternoon helps. Animals generally hunt and will be more active during those times, making it more likely that you will see wildlife. Find out interesting details about the animals and relate the stories.
Lastly, being on family safaris is not just about being in a dusty beach all day. There are lodges that offer opportunities for swimming, fishing, horseback riding, hiking, camel and elephant back riding, brief excursions to villages, local schools and more. Take advantage of all the region has to offer and it truly will be the vacation of a lifetime.