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Kichwa Tembo Tented Camp

Kichwa Tembo Tented Camp © Stevie Mann

9 great African safaris for families

Tayla OíBrien scours land, air and sea to find the best and most unique experiences for your childís first African safari.

Londolozi Game Reserve

Located within the Greater Kruger National Park in South Africa, Londolozi Game Reserve is the perfect destination for a family safari adventure. Its Cubs program accommodates children from four to 16 years of age with tailored activities led by a Cub Coach. The fun begins after breakfast with children encouraged to touch, feel, smell and engage with their surroundings, and continues at the newly opened Cubs Den where children learn about African culture and wildlife, play in fish ponds, and experience campouts. Children over six can join their parents on afternoon game drives to spot the Big Five, while little ones can stay at the Cubs Den for spoor identification, bird watching, and African singing, dancing and drumming. Londolozi also offers a private vehicle for families to create their own adventure.

Londolozi Game Reserve

Maasai Mara National Reserve

A visit to Southern Africa with the kids would not be complete without a visit to Kenyaís Kichwa Tembo Tented Camp in the worldfamous Maasai Mara National Reserve, where youíll have front-row seats to the world cup of wildlife. From July to October, the Maasai Mara plays host to one of the most fascinating natural phenomena: the wildebeest migration. This family-friendly safari camp welcomes children of all ages, and offers an interactive WILDChild Program. On arrival, kids will receive a bag containing a number of safari-themed goodies including a logbook, pencils, crayons, a pawprint tattoo and a personalised welcome note, plus an African-themed soft toy for children under three. Kids over six are permitted on game drives, with child-minders available for the younger ones.

Kichwa Tembo Tented Camp © Stevie Mann

Serengeti National Park

Located in the heart of the Serengeti National Park lies the Four Seasons Safari Lodge in Tanzania. Its Kids for All Seasons program aims to educate younger guests about Africa with unique activities that take advantage of the Serengetiís natural environment. Kids can spend a morning with a Maasai warrior to learn essential bush skills such as making a fire or making a toothbrush from a tree, followed by traditional African storytelling. The Kijana (which means youth in Swahili) Kidsí Club means they wonít have to go without their fun and games from home, with movie nights, video games, arts and crafts and more. Theyíll also leave with a Serengeti passport full of all the animals they spotted during their stay and a bag-full of memories.

Four Seasons Serengeti © Richard Waite

Madikwe Game Reserve

Jaciís Lodges in South Africa offers a number of unique safari experiences including a Conservation Safari and a Walking Safari, but itís Jaciís Photographic Safari that is a real favourite with children. Resident photographic expert Andrew Aveley is on hand to teach budding shutterbugs the tricks of the trade and help them capture spectacular images of Madikwe Game Reserveís Big Five. The water-level Terrapin Hide is open 24/7 to guests at Jaciís Lodges and is accessed by an underwater tunnel offering a prime vantage point for viewing animals and birds without them knowing you are there. If you donít have your own camera, you can hire one from the lodge for the duration of your stay, so youíre sure to come home with amazing images and great new photography skills.

Waterberg

Situated on a private reserve in the littleknown Waterberg area of South Africa, Antís Hill and Antís Nest are among the most child-friendly lodges in Africa, offering some of the most exciting experiences. A safari on horseback gives families the opportunity for incredible game viewing, allowing them to get closer to the animals than is possible on foot or by road. With a herd of 90 horses, including childrenís ponies, youíre sure to find a suitable companion with which to ride off into the wilderness. Rides can be tailored to suit the needs of all ages and abilities, and you donít need to have ridden before to take part; both reserves offer basic riding lessons for all levels before taking them out onto a safari.

Antís Hill and Antís Nest

Shamwari Game Reserve

Just an hourís drive from the city of Port Elizabeth in South Africa, Shamwari Game Reserve offers an oasis for families. Its Kids on Safari program focuses on educating children about conservation in a fun and interesting way. On arrival, kids will receive their own age-appropriate gift bag, as well as access to the reserveís big cat rescue centre, The Born Free Foundation. Families can also visit the Animal Rehabilitation Centre and the Rhino Awareness Centre. There are a number of accommodation options available featuring comfortable family lodges, kidsí menus, swimming pools, kidsí clubs and child-minding services to complement your safari.

Shamwari Game Reserve

The Victoria Falls

Victoria Falls River Safaris in Zambia, run by Livingstoneís Adventure, allows families to go beyond the usual walking and gamedrive spots to discover out-of-reach locations by boat. The boats are designed to operate in shallow waters and can get up close to animals on the waterís edge, and as close as 200 metres from breathtaking Victoria Falls. The two-hour cruises operate all day, with a choice of early morning, lunch-time or sunset cruises. Kids will have a blast zooming across the rapids, before slowing down and drifting for a leisurely game-viewing experience and the chance to spot hippopotamuses bathing, elephants crossing the river, as well as rhinos, giraffe and other animals unique to the area.

Volcanoes National Park

Trekking for mountain gorillas is the highlight of any trip to Rwanda, one of only three countries in the world where the critically endangered primates live in the wild. Volcanoes National Park is one of the best spots for a safari. Wander through bamboo forests for spectacular views of the Virunga Mountains and the chance to get within five feet of the gorillas. This is a great option for families with older teens, with a minimum age of 15 imposed for most gorilla treks. But donít fret Ė there are plenty of other options for families with little ones, including Golden Monkey Trekking.

Pilanesberg National Park

If you are staying at the internationally acclaimed Sun City Resort in South Africa, a day trip to the nearby Pilanesberg National Park is a must. The area is one of the safest safari locations and perfect for families. Spot the Big Five on one of the safari experiences on offer, including guided day and night game drives and a Hot-Air Balloon Safari, the only hot-air balloon in South Africa to launch from within a national park. Drift over mountain peaks and skim the tree tops as you spy on animals from above and enjoy an unbeatable view of the park. The five-hour tour departs early and includes transfers to and from your accommodation, as well as breakfast. With no age limit, this is an unforgettable experience for the whole family.

This article appeared in volume 54 of Holidays with Kids magazine. To subscribe to the latest issue, click here.

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