We know you’re probably thinking to yourself, is it actually possible to bring the whole family on safari? We get that question a lot because it’s not too often you hear the words “kids” and “safari” in the same sentence. However, it is possible and there are many reputable lodges that offer family-friendly safaris. Yes, you read that correctly – family-friendly safaris are not unrealistic.
That’s why we hand-selected the best destinations that offer something for everyone in the family. We considered things like thrilling adventures for those 13-going-on-30 teens; and stimulating kids’ programs with age-appropriate activities for your little ones, when you want some alone time with your gin and tonic.
After all, your children grew up watching creatures made famous by Disney movies, from lion and elephant to giraffe and hippo. Plus, going on a safari with the whole family is unlike any other experience. Why? Because when you disconnect from technology, you’re truly able to connect. So, what are you waiting for? Go on, get inspired by our selection of the best family-friendly safaris:
Sabi Sabi Bush Lodge, South Africa
Sabi Sabi Bush Lodge is located in the Sabi Sand Game Reserve, a prestigious game reserve in South Africa. This family-friendly safari lodge has been designed with ample space to relax, unwind and savor the tranquility of the bush. The lodge features two swimming pools, perfect for cooling off or playing a game of Hippo Polo. Their large covered viewing decks overlooking the Msuthlu riverbed allows guests to sit in comfort while spotting game at the well-utilized pan.
Children over the age of six are welcome to join in the regularly scheduled game drives. Have children younger than six? Secure exclusive use of a safari vehicle that allows the whole family to spend as much or as little time on the game drive.
In between game drives and splashing in the pool, children are invited to enjoy the EleFun Centre, a fully-fledged children’s facility. Interesting environmentally themed activities are designed and supervised by qualified childcare professionals. You can relax and enjoy the incredible safaris, get pampered in the spa, or just kick back and enjoy some private time, knowing that your little ones are reveling in their own special bushveld experience.
Mashatu Lodge Main Camp, Botswana
Situated on the eastern fringes of the Kalahari Desert, Mashatu Lodge Main Camp is an oasis among the undulating and seemingly endless plains of the wild. Burning torches at the camp’s entrance lure safari-goers home where they experience the embodiment of sublime hospitality. A large swimming pool is the focal point of Mashatu Main Camp, making this is an ideal place for family-friendly safaris.
Should you want an evening out at the boma or relax with a drink by the fire, the staff here will keep your littles ones busy. Whether going on a game walk around the camp or creating stone tools from termite mound clay, their children’s program offers enriching activities that keep kids engaged. The children’s program is designed to entertain your little ones while teaching them about the bush and the wildlife we share our lives with.
What makes Mashatu a desirable destination is that there is so much more than the typical game drive. They also offer horseback riding safaris and mountain bike safaris, perfect for teens. The family can split up and do different activities based on their interests. In addition to these unique safaris are the photographic hides. These hides have been sunken into the ground next to a waterhole that is in prime elephant habitat. This allows you to be at ground level with the animals to capture some of your best photos on safari. We’re serious! We’ll let this video do the talking…
Mara Intrepids, Kenya
Overlooking the Talek River, the newly renovated Mara Intrepids is located in the middle of the four game viewing areas of the Masai Mara Reserve. This family-friendly camp is a 45-minute flight from Nairobi and a short drive from the Mara River, where more than a million wildebeest and zebra make their perilous migration crossing every July and August. For the remainder of the year, the camp offers some of the world’s finest game viewing, with large local populations of elephants, rhinos, buffalos, and all the Big Cats. In 2004, about 75% of the footage for the BBC’s famous Big Cat Diary was shot in the vicinity of the camp.
Enjoy the thrill of an early morning hot air balloon ride where you can enjoy the spectacle of the Masai Mara sunrise and the aerial view of big game scattered across the rolling plains of the reserve. Your little ones can take advantage of the Adventures Club, a program that provides fun and exciting opportunities to learn about the wild from Maasai naturalists who specialize in plants, wildlife and survival skills. They offer various activities and facilities on-site including an obstacle course that portrays the challenges wild animals face – don’t be surprised if you child comes out looking like Mowgli from Jungle Book.
Kulala Desert Lodge, Sossusvlei, Namibia
Family-friendly Kulala Desert Lodge is located within the arid Namib Desert on the private Kulala Wilderness Reserve. Comprised of 23 thatched and canvas “kulalas” (meaning ‘to sleep’ in the Oshivambo language), each unit features en-suite bathrooms, verandas, and a flat rooftop for sleep-outs. Namib Desert’s extremely dry weather and pristine skies make it a top destination for astrotourism, and should go without saying, stargazing here is an absolute must.
Explore the Kulula Wilderness Reserve by nature drive, on foot, or even horseback. What makes Namibia so unique is the creatures that inhabit it. Elephant, lion, and black rhino have all adapted to this merciless environment in order to survive. While these fascinating creatures are a big draw, families flock to Namibia for its thrilling activities and captivating sights.
The Kulala Desert Lodge is the closest point of access to Sossusvlei, one of Namibia’s most spectacular landmarks with its red dunes, white salt pan, and Deadvlei. Take a hot air balloon ride at dawn and watch the sunrise over its stunning landscape. By afternoon, climb the tallest dunes in the world and sink your calves into the hot red sand. If you’re up for the adventure, sand board down Big Daddy, ride a quad bike through the undulating sand dunes, or venture out to the Sesriem Canyon, a natural canyon carved by the Tsauchab River.
Mala Mala Main Camp, South Africa
Mala Mala Main Camp is located in the heart of the Mala Mala Private Game Reserve, among shady trees and manicured lawns on the banks of the Sand River. This picturesque location is the perfect setting to create lifelong memories with the whole family.
On arrival, a ranger is assigned to your family to offer various activities, based on the age, enthusiasm, and independence of your little ones. Mala Mala Main Camp’s prime location on the Sand River gives you the opportunity to spot wild animals, from an elevated veranda just a few steps away from your bed.
What sets Mala Mala Main Camp apart from the rest is the flexibility when securing your own safari vehicle. Children of all ages can participate in game drives, which allows the entire family to experience the exciting animal interactions together. In addition to traditional game drives, the family can also go on bush walks, to truly get in touch with nature; or experience a mysterious night drive under the African stars.
When back at the lodge, enjoy a drink next to the swimming pool with prime views of the surrounding African scenery. Or hire a babysitter to spend some alone time with your other half.
Ready to start planning a once-in-a-lifetime experience with your family? Reach out to our team and let them help you plan an unforgettable safari.