African safari with kids: wildlife safaris and tours

Are you considering embarking on an African safari with kids, but uncertain about what to anticipate? This page aims to provide comprehensive answers to all inquiries regarding taking kids on an African safari. Continue reading! There is a prevailing notion that safari and family travel are not compatible. I must inform you that it is false. The motivation behind this piece derives from the numerous letters I receive from people seeking advice on the subject of taking their children on a safari. Hopefully, this information will address your inquiries, alleviate your concerns, and, most importantly, demonstrate that you can indeed enjoy an extraordinary African safari encounter, even with young children.

Here is some useful information you should consider while organizing an African safari with young children. I have collated a comprehensive array of inquiries that I have received from my readers regarding the process of bringing children on a safari adventure in Africa. If you are unable to find a solution to your inquiry with the information provided below, please do not hesitate to leave a comment at the end of this page. I will make every effort to assist you. We do not possess expertise in traveling to Africa with children. We are a family that enjoys traveling, bringing our children along, and sharing our experiences in the hopes of motivating others to do the same. Coincidentally, South Africa was our initial long-distance journey with all three children. The twins embarked on their inaugural safari game drive at the tender age of 2. The age of our oldest child was 4. Eighteen months later, when our children were aged 3, 3, and 5, we embarked on a magnificent four-week road journey through Namibia.

We maximized our attendance at sundowners and game drives, engaged in self-drive wildlife viewing excursions, observed animals at the waterholes, and had numerous indelible safari encounters with our children.

Which African nations are most suitable for a safari with kids?

South Africa and Namibia are the optimal destinations for families embarking on a journey to Africa. There are multiple factors contributing to this phenomenon.

Firstly, both nations offer excellent opportunities for seeing wildlife, which may be conveniently accessed. With your rental car, you have the option to visit either Kruger National Park or Etosha National Park. However, in the majority of other African nations, it is necessary to be accompanied by a guide or driver in order to access national parks. Opting for a self-drive safari is consistently more cost-effective and grants you the opportunity to bring children of any age along on the safari.

african safari with kids

Furthermore, Namibia and South Africa exhibit minimal malaria risk during specific time intervals. You can go on an African safari with kids without needing to take anti-malaria medication. Refer to question 4 for additional details.

Furthermore, both nations offer a high level of safety for families embarking on solo trips. I use the term ‘relatively’ to indicate that unfortunate events can occur in any location. Just like in any other place on the planet, it is necessary to employ rational thinking. We did not experience any sense of insecurity in any location throughout Namibia. Regarding South Africa, the majority of locations are entirely secure. However, it is advisable to use caution when in proximity to townships adjacent to major cities, such as Johannesburg.

What is the minimum age requirement for my kids to participate on an African safari?

Although scheduled safari tours and game drives typically impose age limitations, self-drive safaris have no age limit. The initial safari encounter for our children occurred when they were about 2 years old. The activity involved a supervised excursion through a privately owned wildlife sanctuary located along the Garden Route in South Africa. Discover further details on our African safari with kids.

While in Namibia, we had the opportunity to participate in multiple guided safari rides. However, it is worth noting that there were certain establishments that had an age restriction, prohibiting children under the age of 6 from joining. While some safari operators may permit small children to go on safari drives, they would explicitly inform you in advance that they will not approach or stop near predatory animals such as lions, leopards, and cheetahs while accompanied by young children in an open vehicle.

If you are considering embarking on an extended all-inclusive family African safari, focused only on observing animals for consecutive days, it is advisable to inquire with Active African Vacations about their policy about age restrictions for children. Typically, children must be a minimum of 6 years old to participate in safari tours in Kenya or Tanzania.

What is the recommended duration for an African safari trip with children?

The answer to this question will vary depending on the specific location you have chosen. In Kenya, Tanzania, Botswana, and numerous other African nations, the primary objective of the entire journey is frequently solely focused on observing wildlife. You spend consecutive days in a safari van. In all honesty, I believe that these kinds of excursions are excessively lengthy and tedious, and uninteresting for young children. Even the majority of adults will likely have encountered a sufficient amount of wildlife during a span of 7 days, not to mention youngsters… Therefore, South Africa and Namibia are once again highly recommended destinations for a family trip. Both nations possess a plethora of attractions beyond the mere observation of wildlife. It is possible to integrate safari drives with various additional tourist opportunities.

In my opinion, a consecutive duration of 3–4 days for an African safari with kids is sufficient for any child. To enhance your trip, consider including regular intervals of animal observation every few days instead of dedicating an entire week to this activity. This approach will result in a more enjoyable and leisurely experience.

Is it possible to bring a 2- 3-year-old child on an African safari? Are they 4, 5, or 6 years old? What is the duration?

I would not recommend undertaking extended safari excursions with children under the age of 6. Below is a categorized analysis of my recommendations for a safari trip with young children, based on age groups. Kids  aged 2–3: engage in half-day game drives, participate in self-driving safaris, and see wildlife at waterholes. While it is possible to engage in this activity for multiple days, it is not advisable to bring a 2-year-old on a 3-day safari excursion that solely focuses on seeing wildlife. Children between the ages of 4 and 5 can participate in half-day or full-day safari drives. They have the option to use their own vehicle or join guided safari trips. At this age, I would discourage embarking on an extended safari solely focused on wildlife observation. Children aged 6 to 8 years: The feasibility of a longer safari trip mostly hinges on the ability of your child to remain still in a vehicle for a whole day, which is typically expected at this age. It is important to note that going on a safari often requires a significant amount of time spent driving and searching for wildlife, which may not necessarily be as thrilling as actually seeing the creatures.

What are the recommended medications for malaria in young children on an African safari?

Regrettably, I am unable to provide a response to your inquiry as we have consistently opted to visit regions that are free from malaria when traveling with our children thus far. It is commonly advised not to administer malaria medication to children under the age of 5-6. Considering that there are malaria-free regions available for taking your children on a safari, it is difficult to see why one would willingly expose them to the potential danger.

In July, during the African winter, we traveled to Kruger National Park and Etosha National Park, both of which have a very low risk of malaria. We exclusively utilized mosquito repellents containing DEET. The southern region of South Africa remains free from malaria throughout the entire year. In that region, there are numerous privately owned game reserves, as well as the notable feature of Addo Elephant National Park being free from malaria. These locations are ideal for a first safari experience with children.

Prior to your journey, it is imperative to consult with your physician if you are visiting a region with a significant prevalence of malaria. To access additional medical information, please visit the website of the Institute of Tropical Medicine in Antwerp, Belgium. Medical advice for whatever country you are traveling to is readily available.

African safari with kids

Are there any specific vaccines required for children when going on a safari?

Immunization is generally required in most African nations, for both children and adults. Prior to your journey, it is essential to thoroughly review the medical guidelines and information specific to the nation you plan to visit. Certain countries mandate the administration of a yellow fever vaccination. That is not true in South Africa or Namibia.

What items should be included in a kids packing list for an African safari?

In one of my previous posts, you may discover valuable advice for safaris, encompassing a comprehensive inventory of essential items to pack. There is no necessity to bring any specific items for children when going on African safaris for families. However, my most valuable suggestion is to ensure that each child is equipped with their own pair of binoculars. It maintains their interest and involvement throughout the rides. Safari entails extensive driving and requires a great deal of patience. Binoculars surpass any toy in terms of quality and functionality. Avoid spending your money on toy binoculars. Instead, there are numerous reasonably priced binoculars of satisfactory quality that children can utilize to identify the many creatures they encounter throughout their exploration. However, it is unlikely that you will be able to read much while traveling on the rough roads of Africa’s national parks.

Ensure to include a sweater, bug repellent, sunscreen, a wide-brimmed hat, and sunglasses when going on a safari. Do not bring any toys with you, unless you are going on a self-drive safari. In that situation, bring whatever items you typically bring to entertain and satisfy the children while in the car. Audiobooks have a remarkable impact on our children. Is khaki clothing necessary for a safari? Many people believe that it is necessary to purchase an entirely new wardrobe in khaki hues before embarking on a safari. However, in the majority of instances, it is truly unnecessary. Wearing a red t-shirt on a walking safari may not be advisable, but for a self-drive safari in a closed vehicle, the choice of colors is inconsequential. Ultimately, you spend most of your time seated inside the car.

When going on open-vehicle safari excursions, it is not recommended to wear bright colors. However, there is no need to purchase ten new t-shirts for each child. Simply select the ones that have a lower level of brightness, and that will suffice.

If you make a purchase, it would be prudent to consider investing in a light-brown safari shirt with long sleeves. The garment can be worn multiple times, including over other t-shirts, providing protection against both mosquitoes and the sun. Regarding the hues of sweaters and coats. The rain jackets we brought for our vacation to Namibia were quite luminous. I had no intention of purchasing three additional jackets solely for that excursion. Furthermore, the jackets were only necessary during the early morning or late evening when it was dark, rendering the color irrelevant.

If you plan to visit Kruger National Park during the winter months of July and August, it is advisable to bring a sweater or jacket to wear during the day. Under those circumstances, it would be more prudent to select an item in a light brown or dark hue. During game drives in Africa, it is common to observe individuals donning a wide array of vibrant attire.

What type of footwear should be included in the packing list for children going on a safari?

The type of footwear you or your children choose to wear is inconsequential, as you will be primarily seated in the car throughout. I recommend consistently wearing enclosed footwear when traveling in an open vehicle. Temperatures might drop significantly during early morning and dusk game drives.

What should I do if my kid needs to use the restroom while on a safari drive?

Indeed, this can be a concern in certain regions. If you are aware that you will be driving in a location where exiting the vehicle is prohibited, ensure that the entire family uses the restroom prior to departure. Additionally, ensure that you include scheduled breaks at the rest camps during your journey.

For instance, within Etosha National Park, there are designated picnic spots enclosed by fences that include restroom amenities. Their locations are shown on the park map that is provided to you upon entering. Schedule a restroom break approximately every two hours. Ensure that your children use the restroom whenever possible, even if they claim they do not need to.

Despite everything I’ve mentioned about family safari packages, I understand that there are situations where children simply need to to use the restroom. To some extent, it is more convenient when dealing with young children who still wear diapers. We were dealing with the challenges of having a child at a young age (3) during our time in Etosha. During a certain period, we halted and let our son urinate via a car door that was ajar, while we maintained vigilance over the surroundings to ensure the absence of any close animals. Animals can possess exceptional concealment abilities; hence, it is advisable to refrain from taking restroom breaks in hazardous locations.

Regarding food, are we allowed to bring snacks during the safari?

Typically, most well-structured safari excursions incorporate supper as part of the package. Typically, the guide will halt the car in a secure location, arrange the table outdoors, and you will enjoy a memorable supper in an African savannah. Typically, guided safaris provide beverages such as water and other liquids. However, it is imperative to constantly carry a sufficient amount of water. I would certainly bring down some refreshments for the children. There is no greater inconvenience than a fatigued, disinterested, and famished child, wouldn’t you agree? Having favorite foods on hand can be essential for keeping children entertained during lengthy safari drives. Are there alternative methods to observe African wildlife with children that do not involve enduring long hours of driving on rough roads in a dusty vehicle?

Indeed, there are. However, it is imperative that you conduct thorough research before embarking on the journey. An excellent method for observing African wildlife is to visit waterholes or rivers. Certain lodges, motels, or rest camps provide exquisite waterholes that attract a multitude of animals throughout the entire day. There are several waterholes where the presence of animals is extremely rare. Furthermore, numerous others lack waterholes entirely. The Old Traders Lodge in Erindi, a private game reserve located in Namibia, is another location renowned for its exceptional and vibrant waterhole. While the cost of staying at the lodge is high, day visitors have the option to sit on the terrace and see the waterhole as well. However, if your financial resources permit, I would recommend spending at least one night in Erindi. This lodge in Namibia is one of our favorites, and it is important to note that this mention is not sponsored. I am confident that there are numerous other resorts that possess excellent waterholes, offering abundant opportunities for observing wildlife. Conduct a thorough investigation and you may be rewarded with an exceptionally memorable encounter!



If you encounter fatigue or motion sickness in your children while traveling through a national park in search of wildlife, it might be advisable to pause and visit a nearby river or any water body you encounter. By adopting a passive approach and patiently waiting, one may have the opportunity to observe a greater number of animals compared to actively searching for them while driving. The Okaukuejo waterhole in Etosha National Park in Namibia is one of the finest waterholes we encountered during our journeys in Africa. The animal observation was exceptional, prompting us to remain at the waterhole for the entire day, including the evening and night. It is unquestionably the most opulent method of observing safari creatures with children! They have the option to visit a neighboring store and purchase ice cream to enjoy while observing a multitude of animals. An advantageous aspect of Okaukuejo rest camp is its government administration, which ensures that the fees are exceptionally affordable. Frequently, children under the age of 6 are eligible to travel without charge, provided they are permitted to do so. Discounts are available for older children. Frequently, we were fortunate enough to pay a collective fee for only two people and have exclusive use of the entire safari car.


There is no assurance of exclusivity unless you opt for a more expensive private tour. However, based on our experience of multiple game drives, we only had to share a Jeep with another family on one occasion. Unlike the majority of the other vehicles that were left behind at the same time, which typically accommodated 8–12 passengers, we were fortunate enough to have the exclusive privilege of a private game drive at a significantly reduced cost. There are advantages to traveling with children. If you are considering reserving a private safari with a guide/driver in Kenya or Tanzania, the cost can range from 3,000-4,000 EUR per person per week, and potentially even higher. The final price is contingent upon your lodging preferences and the time of year you plan to travel. Conversely, all aspects are then coordinated and structured on your behalf.

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