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We watched as elephants trecked through the hotel while on safari in Africa

We travelled from South Africa to Zimbabwe, Malawi, Zambia and Tanzania both the mainland and Zanzibar when Juliette was nearly two years old. My wife and I both love Africa and we couldn’t resist the temptation to visit our friends in Africa and go on safari as a family.


We had a marvellous safari and really had no difficulty with finding food for our daughter or cots in the hotels. Actually the entire trip was just perfect. We were extremely vigilant to use mosquito nets, we covered her with a strong mosquito repellent to the point that she wasn’t bitten once in the whole trip.

So if you are thinking of travelling to Africa with your family but are worried whether your children will enjoy the safari and whether they will be safe, we hope you will be encouraged with our personal experiences. Juliette has been on many safaris since a very young age and we have many friends who have children that have grown up in the safari lodges so the answer is a simple one, yes children are fine in the wild conditions.

Children tend to love the wildlife and a safari is usually a wonderful experience for children of all ages. It can get a bit long and hot for children so we have some suggestions for you;

  • take with you some animal spotting safari games
  • learn the Swahili names for the animals which will help the children build a relationship with your driver and should provide fun.
  • Download “safari games” free from the web this will entertain them when the safari is quiet. We have a FREE children’s activity pack which you can view or download and print free of charge and includes a safari animal check list with Swahili animal names, plus some other fun stuff.

A remarkable experience we had one night while out on safari, I want to mention it because it might be useful for other parents travelling with young children while on safari…
We went on a night drive in Zambia in an open vehicle with other guests from the lodge. It turned out to be one of the most spectacular we have ever done. We came across a young leopard where we found ourselves right in the centre of a herd of buffalo that at the time was being ambushed by four very hungry looking female lions. The lions lost their prey. Our daughter in all the bewilderment began crying, within seconds the lions who usually regard vehicles as just part of the landscape started to see the vehicle as a possible prey, like a small animal in distress. It was lucky that our driver recognised the change and drove away quickly with a pack of lions following us.

Food in safari lodges are typical to be quite flexible so no problems here either. There won’t be any difficulties with keeping the children entertained, this is a new and exciting world where they will be introduced to different cultures and also perhaps even poverty for the first time, the world and experience of Africa might play an important role in the education of our children.

As far as wellbeing is concerned we feel there is no real danger as long as the parents act sensibly. Surely the first thing for you to do is sit down with your children before the trip and explain that Africa is a different world from the environment they know, where there is danger around. There is no need to overemphasize but camp rules are there for your protection and must be followed, because if they are not, the consequences can be serious. For very young children I recommend you choose your camp carefully and confirm with your travel advisor which are most appropriate for children. We can guide you on this from first hand experience as we have been on many safaris with our children. We also have a lot of information for going on safari & travelling in Africa

It is recommended that young children should not be vaccinated and are excused in most countries for yellow fever but truthfully I don’t feel this should be of concern. This is a rare disease which you should not come across in a safari lodge. More concern is for malaria which is a problem all through the tropics. Locals who catch it regularly usually considered it to be no worse than a bout of flu. Conversely depending on the strain, it could be dangerous and the key here is prevention. You should get advice from your doctor because young children cannot take malaria tablets. Make sure that you apply mosquito repellent generously, cover up arms and legs before sundown and ensure that the children sleep under mosquito nets. If you use these precautions you can diminish the risk of malaria to approximately zero.

Don’t be scared about taking your children to Africa, it is a wonderful experience for them and we have been back with Juliette many times, but do cover them up well and no safaris in open vehicles for very small children

Note: The above information is advice given on the basis of the author’s experience at the time of writing and the author cannot take responsibility for any traveller choosing to take the advise above. Prior to travelling you should speak to your doctor he will provide advice for your travel and probably point you in the direction of further advice from the relevant authorities before travelling.



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