Going on safari with children can be an incredible way to spend quality time together as a family and get away from the stress of city life.
When it comes to taking family holidays during lockdown rules, the bush can be one of the most practical and safest places to visit. Seeing wild animals, birds, and insects in their natural habitat, getting away from the pressures and stresses of city life (and the coronavirus pandemic), and soaking up the fresh air – a bush holiday can be pure heaven for little ones. Still, as an adult, going on safari with children can be challenging, especially if they’re very young.
If you’re planning a bush break somewhere local with children, here are our top tips to make sure it’s enjoyable and relaxing for the whole family:
Don’t take any chances
The main health risks for anyone going on safari are being stung or bitten by creepy crawlies. For young children, these risks can be even greater. Bring along a basic first-aid kit for minor cuts or bites, suncream (even though it’s winter), and pain medication in case your kids get sick while they’re away. Remember to social distance and to always wear a mask, even when out on game drives.
Create a buzz of excitement
The key to staving off boredom for kids on safari is involving them so that they get excited about the animal life around them. Game activity exercise books are great for older kids, where they can tick off and write about what they see each day. Kiddies’ binoculars and disposable cameras are also excellent for them to share in the excitement of a sighting.
Bring along some entertainment
While a bush holiday for an adult may mean plenty of quiet downtime, chances are your kids’ energy levels won’t change. Plan ahead by taking along portable games and toys that they can enjoy in the limited space of the camp. This could be a cricket bat and ball, crayons, paint and paper for art activities, and glue so they can stick leaves, sticks, and sand that they find onto paper. A bucket and spade are also great for younger children to play within the sand.
Top tip: The key to staving off boredom for kids on safari is involving them so that they get excited about the animal life around them.
Pack light but right
Depending on the time of year you visit, bush weather generally means extreme temperatures, with very hot days and cold nights. Pack a mix of cool clothes for your kids for warm days, as well as jackets and jerseys for nighttime. A wide-brimmed hat is essential for sun protection, and a beanie is useful for keeping them warm once the sun sets. Buffs are also very useful for protecting little ones from the wind, sand, and sun. Don’t forget flip-flops and takkies to protect their feet when they walk around the camp.
Don’t forget the snacks
Few things are more frustrating than a hungry, grumpy child on a game drive, especially when you’re far away from camp. Pack lots of snacks whenever you go on a game drive or day trip; healthy, portable foods like rice cakes, dried fruit, and biltong are ideal. Long days also mean that your kids need plenty of hydration, so pack lots of water and/or juice in a cooler box so they stay cold – or freeze bottles the night before.
Take things slow
When travelling with young children, you’ll get more out of your holiday – and your kids will be happier – if you spend more time in fewer places. Plan to stay for at least two nights wherever you go, which also minimises the travel days where you spend long stretches of time in the car.
Lower your expectations
A family safari with children is a very different holiday from a romantic bush break with just you and your partner. Travelling with kids involves more logistical planning around your itinerary, and plenty of compromise. For example, you may have to do a long game drive in the morning and a shorter one in the evening, as it’s not practical for your kids to be on long night drives long after they should be asleep. Also, if you’re a stickler for routine, this may not always be possible in a safari environment, so rather go with the flow.