How old should my kids be in order for a safari to be worthwhile?
Many people ask me how old their children should be in order for them to fully appreciate a safari. It’s a very important question, as a family safari to Africa is a significant investment in your family memories, so it is essential that your kids are in a position to be able to really engage with the experience.
Generally I recommend that the youngest child in a family should be 7 or older at the time of travel. It is a general rule of thumb and parents will naturally have a better understanding of their children, but having guided hundreds of families over the last 18 years that number stands out as being significant.
I have seen that from 7 children are better able to engage with the overall experience. They are able to really understand what is happening and therefore able to have a bit of patience if you need to sit quietly whilst watching a cheetah slowly stalk some gazelle. It also allows you to do longer safari activities and explore further afield.
A few years ago I had the pleasure of taking 7 year old twins on safari. In the lead up to the trip the family were a bit nervous, because these two boys were a constant whirlwind – fighting, arguing, shouting.
However once on safari things changed. They were part of a larger multi-generational safari where a few vehicles and guides were required. We learnt fast that the boys needed to be separated and each one placed in a front seat next to a guide. Almost immediately the boys transformed. They were completely engaged, asking incredibly intelligent questions and sometimes even spotting animals before the guide. We were able to sit quietly and watch animals for long periods, and head out on full day expeditions. It was such a radical difference that the parents were asking if these were in fact the children they had known for the last 7 years.
We always ensured that we took long breaks on game drives where the kids were able to burn some energy, and when in camp we kept them busy with soccer, fishing, swimming, craft and games.
With children under 12, you will generally be required to book a private vehicle. This is an extra cost, but in my opinion it is worth every cent. A private vehicle adds to the experience as it allows you the time and space to really relax and enjoy the day on your family’s schedule. You have complete freedom, so it is absolutely no problem to spend extra time watching a specific animal or head back to camp early.