Tips for the Perfect Family Safari
If you’ve ever dreamed of taking the family on an African safari, you’ve likely imagined your children’s eyes, round as saucers, as they take in this faraway land. No child anywhere has ever said, “I’m bored,” at the sight of an elephant lumbering through the brush or a baby giraffe sticking close to its mama. And for a parent, there can’t be much in life more gratifying than seeing their kids engaged with nature, with faces full of wonder and joy.
And there is no place like Africa. Where else will you find nature on such a scale? Where else can you experience, up close and personal, such an abundance and diversity of wildlife living where the land is their own?
In ancient history, there were hundreds of indigenous tribes, each with a distinct culture. It’s a fusion of wild and urban, modern and ancient. Going on safari in Africa is an opportunity for your family to experience the magic together. You’ll make memories the family will talk about for a lifetime, and with your children’s children, too.
And the cherry on top is that the spectacular sights of the countryside and the opportunities to see such abundant wildlife, as experienced on safari in Africa, will thrill kids of all ages.
But the secret to success will lie in your planning.
These tips can help you plan for an African safari that perfectly suits your family’s needs and addresses each family member’s special requests and expectations.
So, be sure to:
Consult an experienced tour operator
Brainstorm as a family to nail down priorities and must-do activities
Choose your safari destination
Put careful thought into what to pack for your trip
1. Work with an Experienced Tour Operator
For most of your family vacations, you’ve probably had a good idea of what you’d find when you got there. But if you’ve never been on safari, you can expect many pleasant surprises and probably a few hitches too.
This is the nature we’re talking about. Little surprises and rolling with the unexpected are what make it an adventure. To experience a luxury family safari, you’ll need to hire a qualified safari specialist. An experienced tour operator will provide in-depth knowledge of when and how to prepare. While traveling, you’ll want the novelty of safari to provide all the adventure and surprises—not the lack of preparation!
Here are a few points an experienced tour consultant will cover for you:
Administrative requirements, including travel, health, and entry documentation for each person
Consider unique details, like different age sets of your family or any special needs
Pay attention to your wish lists
Consider time restraints
Prioritize and distinguish between must-dos and special treats that will spruce up your safari
An experienced tour operator is an extra piece of insurance you’ll need to safeguard your once-in-a-lifetime family experience. They’ll provide you with invaluable peace of mind, so you can just relax and enjoy your safari vacation with your family.
2. Brainstorm as a Family for the Ultimate Family Safari Experience
Parents understand that their children’s attention spans may be an issue on any vacation. And involving them as much as possible in safari planning will go a long way to improving their engagement. It becomes their trip too.
Have lots of conversations about the upcoming safari with your kids. They’ll love the brainstorming sessions and the fun of throwing crazy ideas on the table. But this process will help the family narrow down what’s realistic for them all to enjoy.
Here is how it can help:
You’ll know whether exploring the wild on safari is a suitable vacation for your family. And for how long should you travel?
You can discuss and deepen their understanding of Africa. How curious are they about this vast continent?
What does the word “safari” mean to them? What do they hope to experience on safari? Do they have any worries?
Understand their expectations and what they want to take away from such an epic trip.
These questions, and any other points you want to explore, are essential for understanding and confirming you’re all on the same page.
Be sure to take this opportunity to educate them on African fun facts. Do they know Africa is home to the world’s longest river (the Nile) or the world’s highest standalone mountain (Kilimanjaro)?
Online videos, movies, or documentaries of African safaris could be a great help. Anything that helps your children visualize what to expect when big cats jump on your car or elephants block the road ahead
Create a checklist of animals the family hopes to encounter on safari. Keep it for the trip to pull out on game drives or tracking sessions, and encourage them to stay alert and check off each animal when spotted.
Talk to your kids about the flight. This is where you might hear the word “boring.” Plan to pack games, books, their tablet anything to help pass the time.
3. Choose Your Travel Destination
To choose the best safari destination for your family, you’ll need to understand your family’s priorities and what each family member hopes to experience on this trip.
Here are just a few points for consideration:
See the Big Five (lion, leopard, rhino, elephant, and African buffalo) in action
Ride on a hot-air balloon
Visit local villages and learn about their cultures
See the Great Wildebeest Migration in all its glory
You can ride on hot-air balloons in locations all across southern Africa, although East Africa offers them all. The Serengeti National Park and Masai Mara offer incredible hot-air balloon rides. Though they’re costly, they’re also an unforgettable, jaw-dropping thrill. I floated over the landscape at dawn, moved along by the morning breeze.
But if wildlife is your focus, then maybe narrow your safari options to Tanzania and Kenya. You’ll have opportunities to see more wildlife and experience more game drives in these two countries.
On game drives, you can expect to see the Big Five game animals and herds of antelopes, giraffes, and zebras. But that’s not all. East Africa is home to hundreds of species of birds, insect life, smaller game, and, in many locations throughout Tanzania, chimpanzees and black-and-white colobus monkeys.
Once your family has their priorities straight, consult an experienced tour operator for guidance on selecting the perfect safari destination. They’ll work with your wish list and factor in any special considerations to help ensure your family’s safari vacation is exactly how and where you want it.
4. Pack Only the Essentials
Pack only what is essential to keep things relaxed and easy. Your tour company could have baggage weight and size limitations, so be careful. Pack your regular clothes from home, closed-toed shoes, hats, sunglasses, sunscreen, and all other prescribed medications or necessary personal items.
Plan on hot days, so bright-colored clothing may be uncomfortable, especially for the kids. And, according to the CDC, bright and very dark clothes like dark blue and black attract tsetse flies. They recommend packing medium-weight clothing in neutral colors.
Be sure to include jackets for chilly mornings and evenings. Other items we recommend packing:
Containers for collectibles
Medications and any special requirements of family members
Charging pack and plug adaptors