A trip to Africa with kids is a true trip-of-a-lifetime experience. We’re now helping our clients book safaris and one of the tour operators on our go-to list is The Africa Adventure Company. I recently had the pleasure of chatting with Alison Nolting, a co-owner and the VP of Marketing at the company, to get her expert perspective on the top Africa safari experiences for families today.
Alison has traveled to Africa with her two boys for the past 20 years, grew up in Zimbabwe, and ran a safari camp. Talk about a woman who knows her stuff — Alison is an amazing resource. I asked Alison to share five of her favorite safari lodges with kids. Here’s a summary of our conversation — what a list!
Five Great Safari Experiences with Kids
Most families pair travel to Botswana with South Africa and Zimbabwe, as they are close to one another. The Okavango Delta is a Botswana highlight, offering water-based camps where families can watch game from a makoro, a type of canoe, in addition to driving.
Vumbura Plains Camp is a premier-level camp located in a private concession off the Moremi Game Reserve and offers a lovely family unit with two rooms, so families with two children have space and separation. Activities are varied — families can go out on the dugout makoro canoes; kids can get out of vehicles and do short walks, and explore via motorized boats.
TIP: There are two Vumbura camp options. Little Vumbura Camp is a classic-level camp and priced less than Vumbura Plains Camp; it also has a family unit, so families have an ideal sleeping configuration while doing activities in the same area as Vumbura Plains. The only difference is the quality of the accommodation.
In Tanzania, operators run seasonal mobile tented camps in the Serengeti. These are fabulous for adventurous families.
The Serengeti Shared Explorer Camp hosts up to 16 guests in eight tents. The seasonal camp stays in the same place for three months and then moves, following the direction of the animal migration. Outdoorsy families with tweens and teenagers get thoroughly engaged in the Serengeti camp experience. With just 16 guests, the staff embraces everyone, from taking them into the kitchen to teaching Swahili songs. This is where the essence of being on safari comes into its own. Dinner by candlelight in the middle of the Serengeti is really something.
TIP: Tents sleep two people. For that reason, this experience is best suited for teenagers.
Kisima Ngeda tented camp offers children a cultural opportunity to engage meaningfully with a local community; boys can run and play with their Hadzabe village peers, and if girls are into sports or horses, they’ll love it as well. Nearby is an offshoot of the Masai, the Datoga people. Families can get a close look at their community and primitive lifestyle. Kisima Ngeda is located on the shores of Lake Eyasi, a fascinating area near the Ngorongoro Conservation Area.
TIP: Two days is optimal here. Families need to get up early to find them, as they are nomadic.
Tips for taking a family safari in Africa
There are things to know before embarking on a safari adventure. Read more.
Guests of Sweetwaters tented camp on the plains of Laikipia can visit the nearby chimp sanctuary, a conservation program run in partnership with the Jane Goodall Institute, in addition to observing a host of other wildlife in this area.
TIP: If you want to catch the migration in the Masai Mara, the time to visit is July through September. If you plan to visit in August, book early, as it’s a busy month.
Tswalu Kalahari Reserve is located in South Africa’s largest private game reserve. It’s quite high-end and offers a bit of everything: day and night game drives, horseback riding, star beds, rock paintings and art, to name a few. Tswalu is home to a family of habituated meerkats and rhino. Plus they really do cater to kids — children 11 and under are free (!) and receive 50% off the charter flights.
TIP: Spend 4 nights at Tswalu and then charter a flight to Cape Town. This is a great camp and city combination!
The Africa Adventure Company
The Africa Adventure Company is a boutique operator handling soup-to-nuts logistics for their clients, and they are small enough that they can offer extremely personalized experiences. Their focus is deep, educational experiences. For families, they have extensive conversations with parents so they can understand how to make a trip special for each member of the family. Contact Africa Adventure directly for more information.
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Best family hotels and things to do in Africa with kids on Ciao Bambino
Editor’s Note: Photos by The Africa Adventure Company.