Walk on the Wild Side: Safari Holidays with Children

Game Drive with Children in South Africa - Bushbaby TravelHow adventurous are your kids? If you’ve always fancied doing something really different for your holidays, this is the time to try it. There are some incredible savings to be had on long haul flights and holidays on British Airways’ Very Very Big Sale, Thomas Cook’s Weekend Sale and eBookers January sale, among others. And if you think those prices are good, a quick browse on flight price comparison site Skyscanner.net will leave you positively excited about the idea of getting away from chilly Britain.

This got us thinking, if the kids love a day out at Marwell Wildlife, how wonderful would it be to take them to see the animals in their natural habitat, with all the sounds and smells of the bush? We’ve asked our friend (and fellow mum!) Abi from Bushbaby Travel to talk to us a little about wildlife experiences in warm sunny places.

What are your favourite family friendly wildlife holidays in South Africa?

Really the essentials are Cape Town and Safari, with lots of families also opting to add in the Garden Route and its excellent animal sanctuaries, so in terms of an economical trip, Cape Town and Pilanesburg is great.  However, Madikwe in Low Season is fantastic and can be great value.  A 9 night holiday including 3 at Winchester Mansions in Cape Town, 3 at Hog Hollow in Plettenberg Bay followed by a 3 night All Inclusive Safari at Madikwe Safari Lodge during July & August would cost approx £6,000 for a family of 4 with flights and car hire.  I think that’s great value for an amazing wildlife experience staying at hotels with immense character and locations.

I’ve always wanted to go on Safari – I guess that’s out of the question while my kids are still little?

Gosh no!  There are some fantastic safari lodges in Southern Africa that have suites and programmes that specifically cater for families with children of  all ages.  We’ve seen these really grow in number over the last 5 years as lodges recognise that the ‘travel generation’ who took gap years are now parents and seeking something more than a 2 week beach holiday!

Can the kids actually come on safari with us?

Typically most of our clients want to take their children on the game drives so we fit them with a Lodge which accepts their age of children on these.  Some lodges have no age limit (so you can take toddlers), while others set a limit of between 4 and 6 years. All of the lodges listed on our website or in our brochure will have childcare available if the parents prefer not to take them on safari.

Boys at Lemuria playing on the beachWhat else is there to do?

Between game drives it’s a question of swimming, baking, perhaps making local crafts, or even going on bug walks with the ranger… Some lodges also have play rooms.

What about safe drinking water and milk for the children?

Yes this is fine in South Africa, but normally parents opt to use bottled water on safari.

I’m not sure about giving the kids malaria tablets – do I need them?

Not for the main areas we feature i.e. you don’t need them on safari in Eastern Cape and then in the North West (Pilanesberg, Waterberg and Madikwe Game Reserve).  They are required if you opt for Kruger, KwaZulu Natal or countries outside of South Africa. We’ve put the malarial regions in our ‘Bushtracks’ section on the website to be clear.

What sort of budget am I looking at for a family of 4?

4 nights in an Apartment in Camps Bay, Cape Town followed by 3 nights at a Lodge such as Bakubung in Pilanesburg National Park with flights from London Heathrow and car hire throughout is likely to cost from around £4,000 for a family of 4.  However, there’s a wide range of options to suit any budget, but typically clients with 2 children under 12 spend £6,000 – £8,000 for their holiday. The earlier you book, the more affordable your holiday is. There is great value to be had for travel from May to September which is actually the best time for wildlife watching and is also the time for whales in the Cape!

William and Arthur at Kasbah du Toubkal

Abi’s willing testers enjoying lunch in the sun.

Abi is a mum of 3 – Imogen (1), Arthur (5) and William (8) are very willing ‘testers’ for the holidays she recommends. She wanted to visit her sister in South Africa with her first baby, but found many hotels in South Africa don’t accept children under 12 and finding advice and appropriate accommodation on the web was nearly impossible. And so, Bushbaby Travel (http://bushbaby.travel/) was born, and she’s been making lots of adventurous families very happy ever since.

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Janis

Founder & Director at ReallyKidFriendly
Janis is a cheery and versatile digital expert with a healthcare background, usually seen either geeking out or sprinting through North London trying to catch her kids, Mads and Danger Boy. Thanks to her two boisterous rascals, she has become an expert in soft play areas, parks, energetic music classes, and where to get a stiff drink once they’ve gone to bed.
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  1. Personal Trainer November 12, 2012

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