How to Choose a Family-Friendly Safari

How to Choose a Family-Friendly Safari


When planning a family safari to South Africa, one of the most important decisions you’ll make is which lodge to choose. There are many choices in South Africa but the key is to choose a kid-friendly accommodation that fits your budget and lifestyle. Here are some things to consider when searching for the best family-friendly safari lodges in South Africa.

Are children permitted on the safari game drives or walks?
Each lodge has specific rules about the minimum age that children should be before going on a safari game drive. At most lodges in South Africa, the minimum age for children to participate in a safari game drive is six years old. For safety reasons, young children (under age 16) are rarely permitted on game walks. Most safari lodges will allow any aged children on a safari game drive if you reserve your own vehicle for your family. However, at Kwa Maritane Bush Lodge any aged children are permitted on all safari game drives. 

What do kids do when they’re not on a safari game drive?
Many lodges offer activities for children during the day. These can range from walks around the property, crafts, baking, treasure hunts and more. At Thornybush Game Lodge children receive a “Ranger-in-Training” pack, which contains a backpack, coloring book and crayons, and a safari-interactive toy. Thornybush also offers kids spa treatments in shorter time frames and with kid-friendly names, like the baboon chest rub. 


KariegaDoes the safari lodge offer educational programming for children?
Whether you are travel schooling or simply on vacation, families often want to include educational programs for children during their holiday in South Africa. For example, at Shamwari Game Reserve’s Riverdene Lodge and Sarili Lodge, appointed staff meet with families upon arrival to talk about specific activities appropriate for the family’s size, children’s ages and weather considerations. There are various activities to teach humane and compassionate care for animals, such as visits to the Born Free Foundation Big Cat Rescue Centre and the Shamwari Rehabilitation Centre. There are also activities suited for indoors and other social and cultural activities to engage in. 

Does the safari lodge offer babysitting?
Whether it is because parents would like to take part in a game drive together, go to the onsite spa or even relax for some time on their own, it is important that the safari lodge you stay at offers babysitting or “child minding” services. For example, if children are not permitted on game drives for safety reason, babysitting services are available (for a fee). Savanna Safari Lodge has a trained nanny on staff who keep kids busy in fun, engaging activities specially designed for “bush babies.”

Does the safari lodge offer discounts for kids?
A family safari trip to South Africa can be very expensive. To cut costs, consider staying at a lodge that offers a “kids eat” or “stay free” promotion. Also keep in mind the age classification for kids may vary from hotel to hotel. For example, at Madikwe Game Reserve the lodge’s children aged 0-5 stay for free and children 6-15 pay half the adult rate, with two paying adults.

 Can families share a room at a safari lodge?
Many safari lodges have family suites or small houses/chalets to accommodate multi-generational or large families. Dependent on the lodge, there are age limits on how old kids can be to stay in a room with parents. At Kariega Game Reserve the Main Lodge offers three- and four-bedroom chalets ideal for multi-generation families or larger families.

Shamwari Game Reserve

There are many great options for families to have a wonderful safari in South Africa. The key is to determine what your needs are and research your options. And of course, it is always helpful to have a trusted resource available (like the staff of Africa Specialists at South African Airways Vacations) to help you find the best option to meet your needs.