Your next vacation doesn’t need to be “normal.” Take a moment to consider going beyond simply “enjoyable.” Think about going big. Life-changing big. Africa big.
Africa is big – the second biggest continent on the planet, spreading across the equator and both tropics, touching two oceans and sharing seas with Europe and the Middle East. It’s home to millions of animals and plants. Some say the home of all humanity. This is the real Middle earth.
Let’s take the family there on a vacation that will entertain, educate and possibly give new meaning to family bonds. Here’s why family vacations to Africa are a great idea.
Why Take an Africa Family Vacation?
While everyday life at home sits in a particular routine, engaging something new together can deepen relationships between spouses and kids. Africa is nothing if not mysterious and diverse. There are 54 countries on the continent, each with a unique set and subsets of languages, cultures and traditions.
That’s not even mentioning the huge array of climates and wildlife that comes with such a massive landmass. Safaris in Africa encompass the entirety of what nature has given the world. And here you can experience the true wild, in a reserve, all while supporting conservation.
A family on an African safari gets away from Wi-Fi, telephones, and clutter. Here’s where you have time to talk and stare in wonder. Here’s where you learn what modern living has forgotten. Here’s where you and your children meet new people, ways of living, and ways of looking at life.
African Family Safaris
Many lodges and safari camps offer family safari packages. Most will provide private safari tours, meaning that your family will have the exclusive use of a guide and safari vehicle, and not have to share game drives and activities with other visitors.
This is a wonderful way to get to know your guide personally and get the best info and interesting facts and tidbits from them. They will accompany you throughout your stay, taking care of your drives, accommodation liaison, and more.
Whether the safaris at your destination offer walks, drives, or boating safaris, guides will advise what is best. As well as what may not be suitable for kids and answer any other questions you have.
This helps when you’re in the wilderness getting up close and personal with wildlife. Life can get very big in these moments and having your family there with you is a real bonding experience.
What to Expect
Typically, African family vacations involve a few habits that may break from your usual routine. Here’s what to expect:
- Early mornings – To go on early morning drives, you’ll need to get up before dawn. This is so you can squeeze in a light breakfast before heading out on your first drive. You see, most animals don’t enjoy the heat of midday, so they are more likely to be seen in the cool of the early morning or late afternoon when the sun goes down.
- Awesome meals – That said, breakfasts, lunches, teas, and dinners are usually included and quite impressive in their range. You’ll not be left wanting food, even at predawn breakfast.
- Afternoon drives – Drives can last a while, but you’ll usually be back at camp by lunchtime (unless you’re out on a full-day drive). Later, you can do an evening drive. You’ll likely return just as dark sets in.
- Dinners – These are served quite early, but you will have an opportunity to trade a few stories with other guests if you so choose. There’s usually a firepit going and drinks offered for a few minutes of social time. That said, getting to bed early is a good idea – you need to be up early tomorrow!
When to Go on a Family Safari
The dry months are the best time to head out on safari. There are two reasons for this.
First… there’s less water and fewer water sources for animals to drink. So more of them tend to congregate around spaces that are accessible to be seen.
Second… in the wet season, vegetation can be lush, high, and green. It’s difficult to see animals at anything beyond a few dozen yards. In the dry season, there could be less greenery to hide birds and animals.
In eastern and southern Africa, the dry season is winter; April to September.
That’s not to say that the warmer, wetter months are devoid of attractions. Summer is when the birds are abundant and Africa feels more relaxed all-round.
The Best African Safari for Families
Opting for a private vehicle and guide is a good decision when it comes to African safaris for families. You have a bit more flexibility with choices and your guide will be able to manage your expectations more directly. A young child, for example, may find a long drive very challenging. In a private car, you have the option of cutting one short, if necessary.
Keep in mind that many lodges insist on a minimum age of six for game drives. That said, several amazing lodges offer special programs designed with kids in mind. Junior ranger programs and special guided instructionals are designed to give kids a life-long appreciation of nature and wildlife.
You may also be offered self-driving options. That’s fine for reserves with paved roads. But in the less controlled areas, it’s not the best way to go. The terrain in some parts is all but impassable, and unless you’re a first-class off-road enthusiast, chances are you’ll not enjoy getting stuck out in the vastness.
Look into a Family Vacation to Africa
This article hasn’t even delved into the incredible kaleidoscope of cultures, food, contexts, and traditions that make Africa what it is. You can read more about the best family safari vacations here.
A family trip to Africa is indeed an opportunity, as well as a once-in-a-lifetime experience. If you’re on the fence (there are no fences in some safari destinations), you owe yourself at least a look into booking an all-inclusive safari vacation. See you on the trail!