Family Safari Holidays

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Family safari holidays

“We saw the Big Five and so many fascinating smaller animals too, all making their home in the vast African wilderness. We learnt how to track the big cats, ate under the stars and made friendships that the children will never forget. We wanted an adventurous family experience that our older child would enjoy as well, and our safari went way beyond our hopes and expectations. We unanimously voted this our best holiday ever!”

A safari in Africa provides a fantastically exciting holiday for a family. But is it right for you and your family? Which country is best suited to a family safari? Should you go to East or Southern Africa? How long should you spend on safari? Will the kids enjoy it? Are they old enough? Will it be safe?

Here we answer some of the questions we are most frequently asked, but if you’d prefer to chat through the options, just ring to speak with one of our family safari specialists.

Teenagers and kids on a family safari in Africa - Kenya with kids holiday

So, what is the ideal family safari holiday destination?

This is the million-dollar question. Africa is a vast continent and there are a lot of countries that can offer superb safaris. But we think that six countries are particularly well suited to family safaris. Here’s why:


If you want the real family safari experience, we think it’s difficult to beat northern Tanzania. Here you’ve got the wildlife-rich plains of the Serengeti and the dense concentration of animals in the Ngorongoro Crater. Any game drive is likely to offer a real breadth of wildlife sightings and will usually include some exciting predators.

Tanzania safari - young women on safari with camera and elephant in distace

A safari in Northern Tanzania works well for all ages

But in addition to this, Tanzania has masses of other things you can do. Cycle through the banana plantations on the edge of the Rift Valley, take a tuk-tuk ride to the markets of Mto Wa Mbu and stop for a cookery lesson, visit the Bushmen of Lake Eyasi, walk alongside giraffe on the plains beneath Mount Meru, canoe on the Momella Lakes in Arusha National Park and climb an extinct volcano for views over Olduvai Gorge. Check out our Tanzania customer photo selection.

Family learning bush survival skills

Learn bush survival skills from the Bushmen

For more ideas on child-friendly activities check out our Tanzania with Kids blog or see our Tanzania family safari section.

Added to this, there is also the fabled Spice Island of Zanzibar, where you can round off your trip with picture-perfect white beaches and fabulous snorkelling.

Our Tanzania Safari and Beach itinerary is the perfect family blend of activity, safari and beach. We will select family-friendly accommodation to suit your budget and the ages of your children.

Best family beaches - young girl jumping into azure waters from a boat

Combine Zanzibar with the mainland for the perfect family safari and beach holiday


This is where safari all began and it’s still a great destination for family safari holidays. But (and don’t let the Kenyan tourist board catch us saying this), you have to work a little harder to make a safari here suitable for families. The choice of which area to visit is particularly important. You need to avoid the regular, well-trodden route that goes from one game park to the next, with nothing in between.

Kenya with kids trip including camel trek in Laikipia

Go camel trekking in Laikipia

We love Laikipia, the wild and rugged region to the north of Nairobi. Here, critically, in addition to plenty of game, there are lots of activities that kids love. We’re talking rafting, swimming, camel rides, hiking (in a fun way), visits to authentic Samburu villages, climbing craggy cliffs, sunset hot chocolates, and marshmallows around the campfire. All of this will keep the children fully engaged and of course, complement perfectly the game drives that also form a key part of the trip.

Family safari in Masai Mara - cheetah mum and cute cub

Big cats abound in the open plains of the Masai Mara

Add to this the game-rich plains of the Masai Mara (deservedly famous), and the white beaches of the Indian Ocean, and you have the basis for a wonderful African family safari holiday.

To find more information, check out our Kenya family safari section or go straight to Highlights of Kenya for one of our most popular African family safaris, combining the best activities in Laikipia with wildlife viewing in the Masai Mara and finishing up with time on the beach. For ideas on child-friendly activities, see our Top 10 Activities to do in Kenya with Kids.

Holidays with grandparents, child with grandad on the beach

Kenya’s palm-fringed, pale sand beaches are world-renowned


One of the world’s most unspoilt safari destinations, Botswana is the place for those who want a wilderness feel and an exclusive experience. The world’s largest inland delta, the Okavango truly is like nowhere else. Even flying to it, soaring over those immense flood plains, is an experience you’ll never forget.

But the wildlife (elephant, buffalo, hippo, wildebeest, giraffe, lion, zebra, and plenty more besides) is simply stupendous, and as well as game drives there’s the unique experience of heading out on the waterways with a guide in a traditional punt-like mokoro.

Botswana family safari - mokoro experience in the Okavango Delta

Explore the Okavango Delta by mokoro

At the heart of the Delta wetlands is the Moremi Game Reserve, surrounded by private concessions for the crème de la crème of wildlife viewing, including African wild dogs. Due to permanent water sources, the Moremi is good for wildlife viewing year-round. In the Delta, the floods arrive around May and coincide with the Okavango’s dry season – peak time for safari!

Leopard in Moremi Gane Reserve, Botswana

The game is prolific in Moremi, including leopards

Many people head first to Chobe National Park with its river attracting thousands upon thousands of elephants, and popular for boat trips. After this shorter safari, it’s a light aircraft trip (a thrill in itself) to the Delta. Victoria Falls is just over the border from Chobe, and easy to combine with a safari for boat cruises and/or adrenaline activities.

Check out our Botswana Highlights & Vic Falls (8 days) itinerary for more info. And our Botswana Highlights & Vic Falls (11 days) if you’d like to spend longer and experience a thrilling mobile safari.

Two teenagers on a Botswana family safari

Game view by boat in Chobe

And if you want to add a different type of safari, there are the wild Makgadikgdi Salt pans with great walks, horse riding and the opportunity to get close to the indigenous meerkats.


Zimbabwe is back in business as the queen bee of safari destinations. The wildlife viewing here is astounding, especially in Hwange National Park, and children can join in walking safaris from the age of seven – much younger than in some other parts of Africa. And you’ll experience it all in the company of the very best wildlife guides in Africa, thanks to their long, in-depth training. Yet despite all this, there are no crowds!

Elephants at a waterhole, Hwange, Zimbabwe family holidays

See the Big Five in Hwange National Park

Hwange is Africa’s 10th-largest national park, with many different terrains, but because it’s off so many people’s radars, you’ll probably feel like you have its wild dogs, baboons, giraffes, and other epic wildlife to yourselves. There’s a unique way to get into it too – the two-and-a-half-hour iconic safari train the Elephant Express. Parents can sip a G&T, kids can take their turn driving, and you can all ogle wildlife. There’s also the chance to go out with the Cobras Community Wildlife Protection Unit, which has brought rhinos back to Hwange. See our Zimbabwe with Kids photo guide for more.

Tracking rhino on a Zimbabwe family holiday, best family holiday destinations abroad

Track rhinos on foot with the Cobra rangers

And you get to combine all this with time at one of the world’s largest waterfalls, Victoria Falls, which is actually most impressive from the Zimbabwe side. This is the adventure capital of Africa and the perfect place to start or finish your holiday (or both), with white water-rafting, bungee-jumping, gorge high-wiring, zipline-canopy tours, canoeing, rafting, and micro lighting – to name just a few of your options. See our Highlights of Victoria Falls & Hwange itinerary for more details and our Highlights of Victoria Falls & Botswana if you’d like to travel on from the Falls to world-famous Chobe and the Okavango Delta.

South Africa

This is our top pick with younger children. A drive along the famous Garden Route, either starting or finishing in Cape Town, will allow time to visit the small game reserves around Port Elizabeth. These may not have the majesty or grandeur of Kruger or the East African national parks, but, critically, they are malaria-free meaning you have no tricky malaria tablets to coax into unwilling mouths. And whilst these reserves are not vast areas of wilderness, their relatively small size means a particularly dense concentration of wildlife – keeping younger children engaged.

Many lodges in South Africa have a minimum age for game drives or require families with younger children to arrange private game-viewing excursions. Once the safari has finished, South Africa also offers a huge range of other child-friendly activities – zip-wiring, paddle boarding, cycling, swimming in rivers, and so on.

Kids watching elephants at a waterhole, Addo Elephant Park, Eastern Cape, South Africa

A family-friendly safari in the malaria-free Eastern Cape works well with Cape Town and the Garden Route

If taking malaria tablets is not an issue, Kruger National Park is absolutely superb and you can visit on a self-drive basis. This means you can take the game viewing at your own pace and do as much or as little as you want. Again this can be combined with other exciting activities or perhaps with Cape Town and some of the southern winelands.

Our Classic Cape & Garden Route includes a shorter safari that provides a great introduction to the safari experience. Our Kruger & Beach Family Safari includes more game viewing and this can be extended depending on what would suit your family. For more, check out our South Africa family holidays section and Top 10 activities in South Africa with kids.

Lions spotted on a Kruger safari, South Africa

Get close to lions in the Greater Kruger reserves


Namibia is a vast country and the driving distances are quite long so this isn’t necessarily the ideal African safari holiday destination for families with younger children. However, if the kids are a little older (or not too fussed about being in the car), Namibia offers the chance for a serious family adventure.

Namibia family holidays - family adventure holidays - kids on safari

The AfriCat sanctuary at Okonjima Nature Reserve is a firm family favourite

There are vast sand dunes to race down, ghostly shipwrecks to visit, rocky crags to climb and remote bushmen to visit. And up in the north, there are the vast tracts of wilderness that comprise Etosha National Park, one of the continent’s great reserves. As with Kruger in South Africa, you can self-drive here so you can explore at your own pace. Check out our Namibia family holiday section for more detailed information.

Namibia is also one of the least densely populated places on Earth, so there is masses of scope for getting out into the wilderness, sleeping under the stars, or in remote lodges with nothing around.

Close up of elephants in Etosha National Park, Namibia

Etosha National Park

Our Highlights of Namibia -2 Weeks includes, as the name suggests, all of the main sights and includes ample time in Etosha. Our Highlights of Namibia – 3 Weeks includes even more wildlife viewing. As ever, both itineraries can be tweaked to create the perfect safari holiday for your family. For more ideas on child-friendly activities check out Namibia with Kids.

Namibia with kids - on a safari drive in Namibia

Note that accommodation in Namibia, particularly around Etosha, fills up many months in advance (often more than a year). It’s therefore imperative that you start to plan any trip to Namibia a long way in advance.

Mum and two children watching elephants on a family safari holiday

And which destinations suit which school holiday?

Once you have a feel for each of our key Africa safari destinations, check out which works best for each of the school holidays in our Safari Calendar.

February half term

This is a great time to visit KenyaTanzania and the Moremi Game Reserve in the heart of the Delta wetlands of Botswana (good year-round due to its permanent water sources).

Cape Town and the Garden Route are also lovely, although busy. In northern South Africa (Kruger) there will be some torrential downpours, but these are usually short-lived and the rest of the day will be sunny and hot.

Coastal KwaZulu Natal and Durban will be hot and humid.

Namibia will be very hot and there may be occasional thunderstorms (particularly in the coastal areas), but these are usually short-lived

Easter holidays

This is a great time to visit South Africa and Botswana’s Moremi reserve.

In Namibia, it is the end of the rainy season, and usually, by the Easter holidays, there is little rain left so it is a good time to visit.

It’s the green season in Kenya and Tanzania, which means there will be plenty of rain so this is not the ideal time to visit. However, there are not many other visitors and you can get good rates.

April sees the start of the best season to come to Zimbabwe (lasting until October), with warm, dry weather.

May half term

This is a great time to visit South Africa, Namibia and Botswana. For the latter, it’s the beginning of peak safari time as the arrival of the floods coincides with the Okavango’s dry season, but in May it’s still not busy.

It’s still the green season in Kenya and Tanzania, which means that as with Easter, it’s not ideal but can be great value.

Victoria Falls are at their fullest from May to July (ie after the rainy season), making this a good time to come to Zimbabwe.

Summer holidays

This is the perfect time to visit KenyaTanzania and Namibia. It’s also Botswana’s peak safari time, with great concentrations of wildlife in Moremi, the Okavango and Chobe, but you do need to book well in advance.

Zimbabwe’s Zambezi River and Victoria Falls are at their most spectacular in July, making this cool dry month an excellent time to visit. August weather is great too, but lodges and camps do book up quickly.

Cape Town and the Garden Route will be cold and wet, so avoid them, but it’s a superb time of year to visit northern South Africa, including Kruger and KwaZulu Natal.

October half term

This is a great time of year across most of Africa. KenyaTanzania and Namibia are all lovely in October. This is still a popular time to head to Botswana and Zimbabwe, but the weather is at its hottest – too much for some.

In northern South Africa (including Kruger) you’ll get a mixed bag of weather. The rains start towards the end of the month, so it can be wet at times and this may not be the ideal time to visit.

In Cape Town and along the Garden Route, October is springtime, and again you will get a mixed bag. It can be warm and sunny but you may also get the odd day of rain, and the hot summer temperatures have not arrived yet.

Christmas holidays

South Africa is very busy with local travellers in the Christmas holidays. You must book a long way in advance and expect places to be busy.

The weather will be beautiful in Cape Town and along the Garden Route.

In northern South Africa (Kruger) there will be some torrential downpours but these are usually short-lived and the rest of the day will be sunny and hot.

Coastal KwaZulu Natal and Durban will be hot and humid.

Namibia will be very hot and there may be occasional thunderstorms (particularly in the coastal areas) but these are usually short-lived.

Kenya and Tanzania will be experiencing the short rains so there will be some rain at times, but this usually falls in the late afternoon and evening making this is a good time to travel.

In Botswana, it’s the start of the summer season, so the lush greenery is returning. Zimbabwe is out of the running as the rain is kicking in during this month.

Young boy close to grazing zebra on walking trip near Lake Naivasha - Kenya with kids itinerary

Get close to plains game on a walking safari in Kenya

So, once you have decided where and when to go, what else do you need to think about?

Which are the most family friendly national parks?

The first thing to consider is the type of animal that can be seen in a particular park or reserve. It may be sacrilegious to a safari aficionado but we have to be honest about what animals appeal to children. Yes, we are generalising but for the most part lion, cheetah, leopard, elephant, giraffe, baboon, crocodile – tick. Small birds and endless varieties of antelope – not so much. Choose your destination with this in mind.

The second thing to consider is the concentration of animals. Again, many experienced safari-goers will choose less visited and more remote parks and with good reason. These offer a more untouched experience, and the chance to get out into the wilds of Africa, far away from other tourists, and experience that ‘Out of Africa’ feeling.

Giraffe and zebra in the Kruger - family safari

Game is prolific in the world-famous Kruger

However, the more well-known wildlife reserves are famous for a reason. Kruger National Park (South Africa), Etosha (Namibia), the Serengeti and Ngorongoro (Tanzania), Hwange National Park (Zimbabwe), Chobe and Okavango Delta (Botswana), and the Masai Mara (Kenya) all have particularly high concentrations of animals.

The animals here are more accustomed to tourist vehicles and do not run away when a jeep approaches. As a result, within a relatively short space of time, you can see a surprising range of (interesting, child-engaging) wildlife. Yes, there may be other tourists around but if you choose the right camp, and know where to go, you can still ‘get away from it all’.

Kruger National Park holidays

Look for the Big Five in Kruger

How do we plan the right itinerary?

Having selected your destination and perhaps with an idea of which national parks you want to visit, the next thing to do is to come up with the right itinerary. And this is key. This is where our expertise really comes into play.

In our experience, children won’t want to do day after day of vehicle-based safaris. A couple of days is fine, but back-to-back game drives day in and day out won’t work.

The key to a successful African safari family holiday is to incorporate a mixture of elements throughout. The game drives are the foundation of the trip and will be the highlight for the children. After all, what child wouldn’t go wild for close-up encounters with lions, giraffes, buffalos, leopards and elephants?

Stubborn Mule family meeting Hanza bushmen on Tanzania family safari

Kids love learning how to survive in the bush

BUT the game drives have to be interspersed with other activities that take place outside the vehicle. We’re talking bike rides, swimming in waterfalls, visiting villages, learning how to make a bow and arrow, exploring wineries, hiking through coffee plantations, and so on.

All of the countries that we have highlighted above have been selected precisely because they offer superb safaris, but also a great range of activities that complement the safari. There may be other destinations that are fantastic for game viewing but we don’t recommend them for a family safari holiday purely because there isn’t enough else to do. This really is key and we can’t stress it enough.

Cycling safari Kenya with kids

Bikes rides are one of many activities that can be interspersed with game drives

Roughly speaking, for every day spent on a game drive, the next day needs to be spent doing something different, and we don’t just mean driving on to the next national park. All our itineraries have been designed with this (perhaps surprisingly simple?) formula in mind. But remember that every single holiday that we design is tailor-made for your family. Our sample itineraries are there to whet the appetite and show you what you could do and we will then tweak this to ensure that we get the perfect itinerary for you.

For inspiration take a look at our Tanzania itinerariesKenya itinerariesSouth Africa itineraries, and Namibia itineraries. Or if you don’t know where to start, contact us and we can give you bespoke advice.

Kids playing in the pool on an African family safari holiday

A lodge with a pool is great for the kids to let off steam after a game drive… and still spot local wildlife!

What age do children need to be to enjoy a safari?

There is no hard and fast answer to this. Even the youngest children (toddlers and upwards) will enjoy a game drive but their attention span will be short. They might manage an hour or possibly two in a game reserve rich in wildlife where there are no lengthy gaps between spotting (interesting) animals. Longer than this and their interest will start to wane. (Yes, we are speaking from experience. Liddy’s 4-year-old loved a game drive in Amakhala in South Africa but after 10 minutes looking at two huge rhinos just five metres from the vehicle, looked around and said ‘I’m bored now, can we go on?’).

A smiling 4 year old on safari on a family safari holiday - South Africa family holiday

Our MD’s  four-year old on a family safari in the Eastern Cape, South Africa

Once children are seven or eight, they will enjoy a slightly longer game drive. We’re talking perhaps three or four hours – and again there needs to be a relatively high concentration of wildlife. Interest will quickly start to dissipate if there are long stretches with nothing to see, so the particular park or conservation area needs to be chosen with care.

Older children (12 plus) may last longer still, but realistically, even for older children, a half-day safari is probably enough in one go. The ideal itinerary would have a morning game drive that can be extended if everyone is engaged and loving it, but that can finish at lunch if the family has had enough. And then an optional one again in the afternoon for those who are interested.

Again we can’t stress enough the need for careful planning when designing an African family safari holiday. All of this needs to be taken into account. There needs to be scope to extend or cut short the game drives depending on how everyone is feeling.

How safe is a safari for children?

It’s very safe, or we wouldn’t be arranging family safaris! All camps and lodges in our destinations have strict safety controls, including either electric fences or regular patrols by trained safari staff (sometimes armed with spears or a bow and arrow), and strict safety guidelines apply in many camps: for example, guests must keep on the camp paths and cannot walk around after dark unless escorted by a member of staff. Safety is of utmost importance and good practice will be explained to you all on arrival.

Kids learning to make fire on a bush walk with Masaai - Kenya with kids

Learn how to make a fire and other bush skills

Where do I sign up?

An African family safari holiday is without question a life-affirming and phenomenal experience, in which you will share literally breath-taking encounters together. We’ve shared our insights to enable you to choose the right destination and itinerary for your family, and to keep you safe, engaged, excited and entertained for the whole adventure.

For more safari inspiration, check out Stubborn Mule consultant Claire Gray’s blog on her wonderful memories of travelling to Africa with her kids.

And to start planning your holiday in more detail, just ring to speak to one of our safari specialists for advice that is tailored to your family – 01728 752751. Or get in touch using our simple online form.

Botswana and Zimbabwe itinerary, teenagers with elephant in Botswana

Spot Botswana’s phenomenal wildlife in pristine wilderness

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Call us and we will be happy to provide you with a free-of-charge no obligation itinerary and quotation designed for you.

01728 752751

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