Kids On Safari: Yes or No?

One of the most frequently asked questions to the ABS consultants is whether or not kids can come on safari. This is a question is multi-faceted and in this blog, we’ll try and break it down for you.

There can be nothing better than a family holiday, especially one to new countries with spectacular scenery and wild animals. A number of factors must be taken into account, however, before bringing children (especially small children) into foreign countries and wild bush.

Age Restrictions

James WhatleyGuard your children! - James Whatley

While many game reserves welcome children, and provide wonderful child-friendly activities – see our blog for examples – others have very specific rules regarding children. Most of the more ‘wild’ camps don’t allow children under 12-years old.

The reason for this is not to be mean, but to protect children from danger. A lot of camps are unfenced, meaning that wild animals roam freely through them. In most, guides walk you to and from tents, but it’s just not safe for younger children!

ActiveSteveGame vehicle - ActiveSteve

Game drives in open vehicles, too, generally have an age restriction. Again, from a safety point-of-view, but also because patience and quiet is needed – things most 2-year olds don’t have in abundance! Many of the child-friendly camps have dedicated, closed game-viewing vehicles.

Long Distances

Africa is huge and this needs to be considered carefully when travelling with children. The trip by road from Cape Town to Johannesburg is over 1 400 km and takes the better part of 14 hours. And that’s on well-maintained roads, whereas many of the roads in Africa can be fairly rough and slow-going, especially when venturing off the beaten path.

Briony ChisholmLong road - Briony Chisholm

While it’s thrilling to see Africa’s wonderful animals on a game drive, they generally last upwards of three hours and there are often long periods of time where you don’t see any animals at all (unless you’re in the Ngorongoro Crater!) It’s enthralling for adults, but time goes slowly in a car when you’re five, and there’s nothing that can spoil a holiday more than a bored, and resultantly whiny child in a car.

Again, if you’ve got smaller kids, just plan well. Speak to one of our ABS consultants and we’ll plan a trip with shorter distances, to child-friendly camps. It’s easy to do, especially in South Africa.

Backpacking and Overlanding

David HoltCamp - David Holt

It is important to choose the right trip if you're wanting to take the kids along. Accommodation can range from camping in the wild to lodges, and the age of your children will determine what's most suitable. Overland backpacking, which requires plenty of participation from everyone on the trip (setting up camp, cooking etc.) is not suitable for children. Some accommodated trips, however, that require minimal participation and go to child-friendly camps, may be. Again, enquire from our consultants.


Matthew OlifantMosquito nets - Matthew Olifant

Malaria is not a disease to be trifled with and this applies especially to young children (under 5 years old). While there is prophylaxis (medicine to prevent malaria) to give both adults and children, and mosquito nets to prevent bites, they are not 100% effective. Children, if they get malaria, get it severely and symptoms escalate rapidly, so it’s best not to take kids into malaria areas far from medical care.

Franklin PiGarden Route - Franklin Pi

This doesn’t mean you can’t go on safari, though! Safer options include the Kruger Park in winter (when the risk for malaria is low) and parts of Namibia and Botswana that are free from malaria. Alternatively, a trip along the spectacularly beautiful Garden Route in South Africa (Mossel Bay to Storms River) is malaria-free and very family-friendly!

Happy Families, Happy Holidays

kimvanderwaalFamily - kimvanderwaal

So while safaris into the wild bush of Africa is not the most suitable holiday for families with small children, Africa – and especially South Africa – offers plenty of wonderful holiday options for both adults and kids to enjoy. Speak to our consultants and book your holiday for 2017! 

If you liked this post, these trips cover similar ground…

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