Our Ultimate Guide to Family Safaris

Top Safari Destinations and Tips

Pack your sense of adventure and get ready to create some wild memories with your loved ones on a Pippa Rose Travel family safari to Africa. Our top recommended safari lodges offer an enticing blend of luxury and thrills, and are geared towards meeting the needs of families travelling with children. From the majestic dunes of Tswalu Kalahari to the breathtaking landscapes of Victoria Falls River Lodge, each lodge promises a unique family safari experience that will leave you with stories to tell for generations.

Planning a family safari in Southern and Eastern Africa requires a bit of strategy though, especially if you are travelling with young children.

Age restrictions: Most lodges in these regions have age restrictions for game drives, typically not allowing children under the ages of 4 to 6 years. However, there are exceptions that cater beautifully to young families (see our recommended lodges, below). While most lodges permit children on game drives above a certain age, some activities may still be off-limits. For instance, walking or mokoro safaris in Botswana are generally not suitable for younger children and typically only permitted from the age of twelve. The age restrictions and available activities are highly destination-specific.

Private vehicle hire: Across Africa, some lodges become more accommodating for families if you hire a private vehicle. This option allows for greater flexibility and often includes a personal guide, giving you the freedom to create your own schedule. However, it’s essential to note that not all lodges provide childminding services, so parents may need to take turns looking after the little ones.

Exclusive-use properties: These have gained popularity among families. With exclusive use properties, you get your own vehicle, guide and space, allowing you to set your own rules and enjoy a personalised safari experience.

When to go: The ideal time to visit Southern Africa is during the winter dry season, from June to September, when vegetation is sparse and animals are more easily spotted around rivers and waterholes. There are also fewer mosquitoes. However, it can get quite cold in the evenings, so bring a down jacket for sunrise and sunset game drives. Winter in South Africa, Swaziland, and even mountainous Lesotho is generally mild. Lowland temperatures range from 12 to 25 °C, while mountainous regions range from 3 to 10 °C. During the day, a t-shirt and shorts or cargo pants are usually sufficient, with a light jacket needed at night. Thick winter jackets are essential only for evening game drives when the wind can be quite chilly in the open safari jeeps. The best months for wildlife viewing in East Africa are from June to October. This period coincides with the wildebeest migration, which typically reaches the Masai Mara in July and stays until October before moving back to the Serengeti in Tanzania. 

~ TOP AFRICAN SAFARI DESTINATIONS ~

South Africa South Africa is our number one recommended destination for a family safari in Africa. It is a land of thrilling contrasts, from bustling city life to tranquil winelands, coastal drives, and outstanding wildlife safaris. Embark on a Big Five safari in Kruger National Park, the second largest reserve in Africa, or explore the malaria-free Madikwe Game Reserve, a beautifully run reserve with a range of luxury accommodations for families to enjoy game drives, bush walks and stunning savannahs. With its top-notch cuisine, diverse cultures, exceptional luxury lodges and spectacular wildlife, South Africa is a crowd-pleaser guaranteed to enchant the whole family.

Botswana Botswana dazzles with its pristine safari experiences, making it a crown jewel of Africa and a fantastic destination for family safaris. Its lush, hippo-filled deltas host world-class luxury lodges that seamlessly blend with nature. Families can explore the untouched Okavango Delta, teeming with birdlife, elephants, and the echoes of lions. Glide through waterways in a mokoro canoe, witness the Great Migration in Chobe National Park, and sleep under the stars in the Kalahari Desert. Botswana offers a true connection with nature and an authentic African adventure for all ages.

Tanzania For an exquisite family safari experience, Tanzania really packs a punch. Witness the Great Migration in the Serengeti, where thousands of wildebeest and zebras roam the plains. Explore the Ngorongoro Crater, rich with diverse wildlife, and relax on the pristine beaches of Zanzibar. Tanzania blends wildlife thrills with luxury, ensuring your family safari is a roaring success and a memorable adventure for all.

Kenya Often praised as the ideal first-time safari destination, Kenya epitomises old school luxury travel and offers families exceptional wildlife safaris and cultural experiences. Experience the iconic Maasai Mara and the Great Migration, and explore the diverse landscapes of Amboseli and Tsavo. Luxurious lodges and tented camps provide adventure and top-tier comfort. Beyond safaris, Kenya’s coastline features idyllic beaches and historic Swahili culture, crafting a complete African adventure for the whole family.

Zimbabwe Zimbabwe is a haven of natural wonders and wildlife adventures, perfect for family safaris. The majestic Victoria Falls offers a spectacular display of cascading water and rainbows. Beyond the Falls, families can explore Hwange National Park’s large elephant herds and diverse wildlife, or embark on a canoe safari in Mana Pools National Park. Encounter hippos and crocodiles on the Zambezi River and marvel at Matobo National Park’s dramatic rock formations and ancient San rock art. Luxury lodges blend comfort with wilderness, ensuring an unforgettable safari experience for the whole family.

~ TOP FAMILY-FRIENDLY SAFARI LODGES ~

  1. Tswalu Kalahari, Kalahari Desert, South Africa Experience the vast, stark beauty of the Kalahari Desert at Tswalu Kalahari. This lodge is a paradise for wildlife enthusiasts, offering opportunities to spot the elusive pangolin and black-maned Kalahari lions. After a day of game spotting, savour a hearty meal from the seasonal menu, including delicious barbecued meat from the traditional South African boma. Float in the infinity pool with stunning views or relax in the shade with a good book. Kids will love the Junior Ranger program, where they can learn about the desert ecosystem through hands-on activities. Children under 12 go free, plus there’s no malaria threat here.
  2. Naibor Camps, Kenya Set in the heart of the Maasai Mara, Naibor Camps offer a blend of luxury and authentic safari experiences perfect for families. The spacious tents, each with a private veranda, overlook the picturesque Talek River, a favourite spot for hippos. Families can embark on personalised game drives, guided bush walks and immersive Maasai village visits. Masai guides enrich your stay with their deep knowledge of the land and its wildlife, and the children’s program includes engaging nature walks and wildlife tracking. The friendly staff are always on hand to cater to your needs, and after a day of exploring, you can unwind with a hot bucket shower under the stars. Their Migration Camp runs from July to October and the Big Cats Camp runs from January to March. Camps are taken down completely after each season leaving a very light footprint.
  3. Madikwe Safari Lodge, Madikwe Game Reserve, South Africa Nestled in a malaria-free zone, Madikwe Safari Lodge stands out as one of Africa’s most family-friendly safari lodges. With twice-daily game drives for guests aged 6 and above, and shorter morning drives for younger adventurers, every age group is catered to. Children as young as two are welcomed with a fantastic array of activities: family safari drives, pizza making in the boma, star gazing, bush orientation, and a variety of fun at the ‘Madikwe Cubz’ kids’ club. The lodge’s Eco-House also offers engaging arts, crafts and educational activities.
  4. Shamwari, Eastern Cape, South Africa Shamwari is renowned for its child-friendly programs, making it an ideal choice for families. The Kids on Safari program is designed to educate and entertain young explorers, with activities ranging from game drives to interactive bush walks to learn about wildlife conservation. Spend your days relaxing in the heated swimming pool, with a shallow area which is perfect for younger guests, and socialising with fellow guests in the cosy lounge with its stunning views over Bushman’s River and far reaching grasslands.
  5. Kigelia Ruaha, Ruaha National Park, Tanzania Ruaha National Park is known for its dramatic landscapes, massive baobab trees studding the landscape and the Great Ruaha River. Deep in the park, Kigelia Ruaha offers intimate, family-friendly safaris. Spacious tents ensure comfort, while guided game drives reveal elephants, lions and antelopes. The camp offers bushcraft lessons and nature walks for kids, and there is a family tent ideal for families with children. Kigelia Ruaha is located in an area that is usually full of game and it’s not uncommon to find elephants walking along the paths connecting the tents, or browsing on the other side of the dry riverbed.
  6. Grootbos Garden Lodge, Whale Coast, South Africa Nestled between mountains and the sea, Grootbos Garden Lodge is a luxurious eco-paradise in South Africa’s prime whale-watching haven, Walker Bay. Families can immerse themselves in marine and wildlife adventures, including whale watching from June to November, and scenic boat trips to see the Marine Big 5: penguins, whales, great white sharks, seals, and dolphins. Enjoy horse riding on the beach, nightly feasts of seafood and organic produce, and guided walks through flower-filled fynbos. Grootbos Garden Lodge’s eco-friendly ethos ensures a sustainable and enriching experience for all.
  7. Simbavati River Lodge, Timbavati Private Nature Reserve, South Africa Perched on the banks of the Nhlaralumi River, Simbavati River Lodge offers an idyllic setting for a family safari. This family-run camp, whose name means “the place where the lions come down from the stars” in the local Shangaan language, provides spacious family tents and child-friendly game drives, ensuring everyone can join the adventure. When not spotting wildlife, relax in the lounge or bar, or take a refreshing dip in the pool.
  8. Sand Rivers Selous, Tanzania Situated on the Rufiji River in the Selous Game Reserve, Sand Rivers Selous seamlessly blends luxury with the wild. Open-fronted rooms offer breathtaking river views, while game drives, boat safaris and guided walks provide unforgettable family adventures. The lodge’s child-friendly activities and flexible schedules make it ideal for family bonding. Relax in the infinity pool as you watch hippos basking in the sun, treat yourself to a massage, or unwind as a family at the lodge’s communal hub, complete with dining room, bar and lounge. This esteemed camp offers guests exceptional service and an exclusive front-row seat to Africa’s untouched wilderness.
  9. Chobe Game Lodge, Chobe National Park, Botswana Chobe Game Lodge, the only lodge located inside Chobe National Park, is a premier destination for wildlife viewing. The lodge offers family suites and a variety of activities for children. Enjoy boat safaris on the Chobe River and thrilling game drives in the park. All 47 guestrooms feature river views, which can be enjoyed from private terraces. The four exclusive suites also include a lounge, a large balcony, and a plunge pool. During your stay, watch elephants playing in the water, observe elegant giraffes, and spot buffalo, kudu, and even crocodiles.
  10. Somalisa, Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe Somalisa provides a true wilderness experience in the heart of Hwange National Park. The family units are designed to accommodate all ages, and the lodge offers special activities for children, including guided nature walks and storytelling sessions around the campfire. The camp’s tents feature gauze sliding doors and plush furnishings, complemented by a glass wood-burning stove for chilly evenings and floor fans for hot summer days. Each tent includes a freestanding copper bathtub, both indoor and outdoor showers, and a flush toilet. The watering hole at Somalisa, known as the “Elephant’s Pool,” attracts local herds of elephants, creating unforgettable scenes as these gentle giants drink just feet away from you.
  11. Gomoti Plains, Okavango Delta, Botswana For families seeking adventure, Gomoti Plains in the Okavango Delta offers an exhilarating safari experience. Activities such as walking, game drives, boating, and mekoros create a perfect playground for the entire family. Superb game viewing, outstanding bush cuisine, and airy family tented suites make this destination a favourite. Although young children may not participate in all activities, the lodge’s flexible approach allows for private game drives and tailored experiences. Explore the delta’s waterways by mokoro and discover the region’s rich biodiversity. Gomoti Plains has ten luxury tents, including two designed for families, raised on wooden decks overlooking the Gomoti river, decorated in classic safari style and equipped with en-suite bathrooms.
  12. Victoria Falls River Lodge, Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe Situated on the banks of the Zambezi River, Victoria Falls River Lodge provides exceptional game viewing opportunities as well as a luxurious base for exploring one of the natural wonders of the world—the magnificent Victoria Falls—which are just a few minutes downstream. Families can enjoy a variety of activities, including boat cruises, fishing trips, and guided tours of Victoria Falls. The accommodation consists of spacious, contemporary thatched “tents”, which are actually solid structures covered with canvas. These feature sliding glass windows, stand-alone bathtubs, outdoor showers, and private decks, each with its own pool overlooking the Zambezi. Luxury Tents accommodate two people, while the Family Suites can sleep up to five (two adults and three children) with a king-size four-poster bed, a bunk bed, and a small single bed in an adjoining tented room.
  13. Cottar’s 1920s Camp, Maasai Mara, Kenya Travel back in time at Cottar’s 1920s Camp, where vintage luxury meets modern comfort, giving off pure ‘Out of Africa’ vibes. Family tents boast spacious living areas and savannah views. Enjoy customised game drives, walking safaris and cultural visits. The kids’ program includes bush survival skills and wildlife tracking—perfect for your little adventures. Two main mess tents sit at the heart of Cottar’s and there is a swimming pool and spa. Spend your days learning from Maasai guides, then unwind enjoying fine food and wine by candlelight. The Cottar family’s decades of experience, coupled with their award-winning camp’s top-rated ecotourism and the highest number of Gold Safari Guides in Kenya, ensure exceptional, authentic safaris and genuine cultural interactions with the local Maasai community.
  14. Singita Serengeti House, Grumeti Reserve, Tanzania Singita Serengeti House is a private family retreat in the Grumeti Reserve, designed to welcome families to a stylish home-away-from-home. Accommodating up to eight guests, this exclusive-use villa has four suites, a dedicated team, and a private guide offering tailored game drives and bush walks. Gorgeous lounging areas offer uninterrupted views of wildlife-rich plains, home to buffalo, leopard, lion, elephant, Masai giraffe, black rhino, wildebeest and cheetah. Their Mini Rangers Course includes animal tracking, frogging, bush survival techniques, flower-pressing, game-spotting competitions and a cosmic safari. With a 25m pool, tennis court, and activities like cookery lessons and wildlife tracking, this is family bonding, Singita style.
  15. Giraffe Manor, Nairobi, Kenya Giraffe Manor in Nairobi combines luxury with up-close giraffe encounters. This beautiful 1030s boutique hotel is home to resident Rothschild giraffes that drop by morning and evening. Feed the giraffes, visit the nearby Giraffe Centre and explore the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust. It’s an experience that’s both magical and unforgettable for all ages, whether you’re sharing brekkie or afternoon tea with them or walking through their sanctuary. It promises a perfect family holiday, with memories to inspire the little ones for years to come.
  16. Waterside Lodge, Royal Malewane, Thornybush Game Reserve, South Africa Waterside Lodge at Royal Malewane offer a perfect blend of luxury, family-friendly amenities, personalised service and private game drives tailored to your family’s needs. The dedicated kids’ program entertains and educates young guests, allowing parents to relax and unwind. There is a great spa with a heated lap pool; however, each room, suite and villa boasts its own private pool with bush views, keeping you connected to the wild at all times. Waterside Lodge comes with a games room and extra beds, making it ideal for larger families. The Aloe Suites can interconnect for added space, and the Baobab Suite features two bedrooms.
  17. Four Seasons Safari Lodge, Serengeti, Tanzania In the heart of the Serengeti, Four Seasons Safari Lodge offers spacious family suites and stunning savannah views. The Lodge has a total of 77 rooms, suites and villas, each beautifully furnished with furnished sundecks, pristine infinity-edge pools and outdoor showers. Their Boma Grill offers a cultural Maasai experience with an elaborate African feast and Maasai dancing. With spectacular views, the Kula’s Restaurant celebrates local flavours and has a fantastic wine cellar. Families can enjoy game drives, the Great Migration and the Serengeti’s rich wildlife. The comprehensive kids’ program includes educational activities, nature walks and Maasai cultural experiences, all with a side of infinity pool relaxation.

Planning a family safari can be a complex task, but that’s where our expertise comes in. At Pippa Rose Travel, we work closely with you and our suppliers on the ground to create a tailor-made itinerary that suits your family’s unique needs and preferences. Whether you’re looking for a malaria-free zone, lodges with childminding facilities, or exclusive-use properties for ultimate flexibility, we can help put all these details together, ensuring a seamless journey for the whole family.

Please get in touch if you need any more information, ideas or assistance in planning your perfect family safari.

+447990824249 or +351914249592
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Top 5 books for Travelling to Africa

This week as we explore the wanderlust continent of Africa and with bank holiday weekend looming we thought we’d suggest another batch of virtual travel material…

 

Whether you’re seeking inspiration for a trip to Africa or want to venture there for an afternoon or two then download/order one of these books:

 

1. AFRICA: Altered States, Ordinary Miracles

by Richard Dowden

“I write chiefly for outsiders, those who have not been to Africa but would like to know more about it.” – For the past three decades or so Dowden has travelled this vast and varied continent, listening, learning, and constantly re-evaluating all he thinks he knows. His readers journey with him country by country, as he has sought out the local and the personal, the incidents, actions, and characters to tell a story of modern sub-Saharan Africa – an area affected by poverty, disease and war, but also a place of breathtaking beauty, generosity and possibility. The result is a compelling, illuminating, and always surprising Africa insight.

2. Dark Star Safari

By Paul Theroux

Theroux earned his reputation as one of the all-time great travelogue writers because he lives every word that he writes. Dark Star Safari takes readers on his voyage from Cairo to Cape Town. He endures danger, delay, and dismaying circumstances which make for quite the page turner. It’s an honest account of his epic and enlightening journey and a refreshing take on overland travel in Africa.

3. Ivory, Apes and Peacocks: Animals, Adventure and Discovery

By Alan Root

Root’s personal account of childhood and professional life is a fine African memoir, taking his readers from the adventurous innocence of wildlife-filming in colonial Kenya to the complexities of recent years, in particular the murder of his wife Joan in 2006, which we are lead to believe is because of her anti-poaching campaign.

4. Savannah Diaries

By Brian Jackman

This book collects Jackman’s accounts of game parks, including meetings with legendary safari guide Robin Pope. The first is when Pope is a rookie, apprenticed to Norman Carr, the grand old man of the Luangwa Valley; the second takes place 30 years later, when Jackman joins Pope for a walking safari.

Having written about the animals and landscapes of Africa for 40 years or so you can really explore with Jackman and his attention to detail.

5. The Elephant Whisperer: My Life with the Herd in the African Wild

by Lawrence Anthony with Graham Spence

Conservationist Lawrence Anthony devoted his life to protecting the world’s most endangered species. The Elephant Whisperer depicts his time bonding with a herd of ‘rogue’ elephants, which he saved from being killed by taking them in as his ‘family’ on his Thula Thula game reserve in Zululand. This really is an energetic firsthand reportage from the heart of the African wild.

This book may make you cry, laugh and have you completely absorbed, but it will also have you planning your next safari trip straight away…

 

Happy reading!

If you’d like to chat Africa or plan a trip please get in touch: [email protected]