Travelling in Africa with kids

If you are looking for a family friendly destination that accommodates small kids, then South Africa is your best bet. It offers an awesome African introduction for travellers of all ages. Its modern, cosmopolitan cities, great roads and accessibility make travel safe, easy and affordable, while the jumble of cultures and languages, variety of landscapes and superb wildlife give a wonderful glimpse into the richness of Africa. Hotels and safari lodges are well equipped to keep kids of all ages occupied and the variety on a South African itinerary ensures the whole family is entertained through-out the journey. A few of our top family friendly destinations in South Africa are Cape Town, The Garden Route, the malaria free game reserves of the Eastern Cape or Madikwe, Kwazulu Natal beaches and reserves and the Kruger National Park.

Some folk prefer to head for a Malaria-Free Safari destination, especially those with very small children or those who simply prefer not to take anti-malaria medication. There are plenty of malaria-free safari or beach destinations to choose from without sacrificing the quality of your trip.

Malaria free safari: Madikwe Game Reserve, Pilanesberg Game Reserve, Eastern Cape Game Reserves.

Malaria free beaches: South Africa’s coastline (except Northern Natal), Mauritius & Seychelles.

For those wanting to explore further afield into Southern and East Africa to destinations such as Botswana, Namibia, Victoria Falls, Kenya or Tanzania, there are also a selection of family friendly lodges that can cater to your needs but age restrictions do apply for most safari activities (see below).

Popular choices for small families or multi-generational travel:

  • Self-drive Itineraries in South Africa, increasing flexibility and reducing costs
  • Private Guides for maximum flexibility and stress free travel
  • Accommodation options ranging from Villa’s, Sole-use lodges or family rooms providing privacy and comfort

Kids on safari

Some safari lodges welcome kids of all ages (these are predominantly in South Africa), but there are also many options with minimum age restrictions from 6 years, 12 years or even 16 years old. Depending on the ages of the kids concerned we can recommend the best fit for your travelling party. Special kids on safari programs are common in the family friendly lodges to keep the kids engaged and for them to get the most out of this unique experience. Activities such as junior ranger training, catch and release fishing (for fish or insects) and a cub’s club are popular activities on offer to encourage a love of animals and nature.

Kids under 6 years of age are generally not allowed on the scheduled morning and evening game drives to protect the other guests from restless children on the vehicle. Seeing wildlife requires patience and silence at times and this can be challenging for the kids and their parents! Instead, the family friendly lodges may offer a kid’s game drive which is much shorter in length and caters specifically for a child’s inquisitive mind (parents may join too if they wish). Private vehicles are also a possibility should the family wish to be on their own but age restrictions may still apply at some lodges for safety reasons. Many game reserves offer a range of sole-use lodges which can be booked exclusively for the family and in turn mean more privacy and less restrictions on the kid’s activities. Child-minding facilities are also readily available on request at family friendly lodges.

Bush walks and canoeing activities can only be carried out by those aged 12 or even 14 years in some cases. Gorilla Trekking has a minimum age restriction of 16 years old.

Important requirements for travelling with children:

  • Required Documents to bring along: Please note that children under the age of 18 must be in possession of a birth certificate that contains both parents full names, as well as their own passport. Children travelling with only one parent or guardians must produce relevant documents – such as letters of permission from the parent/s or custody court orders – that shows they have permission to travel. You may not be allowed to enter or leave South Africa or Botswana without the relevant documents. All travellers should visit the South African Department of Home Affairs (DHA) website and check the latest requirements with the nearest South African embassy or consulate before traveling. All documents must be original or copies certified as a true copy of the original by a commissioner of oaths or the equivalent commissioning authority.
  • Malaria: While most of South Africa is malaria-free, a low malaria risk does exist in certain parts of the country towards the borders of Mozambique. Many of Africa’s prime safari and beach destinations lie within Africa’s malarial belt and although the risk of malaria varies between seasons, visitors should prepare accordingly and use malaria prophylaxis and mosquito repellent. For information on malaria, its prevention, protection from insect bites, and anti-malarial drugs, please visit the CDCs malaria web page and consult your local travel clinic for a better understanding of the risk.
  • Vaccinations: No vaccinations are mandatory for visiting Southern Africa; however, you must have a yellow fever certificate issued if you have travelled from or transited through a country with yellow fever. Yellow fever requirements for East Africa need to be checked before travel.

Requirements are subject to change and it is advisable to check the latest status with the relevant authorities or travel clinics.

by Lisa Christie on Redfoot Safaris

Hi Joan - We have arrived home safely - with just a little jet lag. Your guidance and expertise in planning this trip was invaluable. The trip exceeded all of my expectations!! I would not have changed anything. It would be difficult to pick out the best part of the trip - in that each day was so special. Rob and Heath were exceptional and a great part in making the trip so special. Londolozi was amazing. I'm not sure who we have to thank for our special Anniversary treat of lunch in the tree house; but thank you, thank you, thank you!! It still brings tears to my eyes thinking of the it!! We started the trip by saying "if" we go back to Africa only for it to be quickly changed to "when" we go back to Africa. So until next time, I thank you again for making this such a special experience!!

by Pat Feeney on Redfoot Safaris

We were a group of three couples traveling to South Africa for the first time. We have traveled to Italy, Cuba, Mexico and other locations together and had arranged to stay in a house outside of Cape Town on our own. Redfoot Safaris was introduced to us by a friend in Phoenix that had a great experience in 2017. We communicated with Rex by email and phone and were impressed by his patience as none of us had ever been on a Safari and we had lots of questions. Rex arranged for us to have two full day tours of Cape Town and the surrounding area and we were so impressed with our guide that we engaged him for another full day. Upon arrival at Rattray on Mala Mala we could not believe how comfortable and luxurious the facilities were and the staff and their service was impeccable. Our guide, Garrett, was fantastic and a wealth of knowledge. We were exposed to a great number of animals and learned so much about their lives and their environment. It was both an educational and relaxing break and our photos and memories will be enjoyed for years to come. We highly recommend letting Redfoot make the arrangements so that the total experience can be enjoyed even though it is far from home. We would love to return and repeat the entire experience.

by the Murneys - South Africa on Redfoot Safaris

Our trip was just perfect - spent three days touring Cape Town and surroundings with our guide, George Meyer, who was fantastic. Other than our pick-up time, nothing was set in stone, and George allowed each day to unfold as it happened. We got to see everything on our list - and then some. From there we headed to MalaMala for a couple days safari, which were amazing - the accommodations at Rattray's were beautiful, and we saw more wildlife than we were expecting. Our safari guide was knowledgeable, friendly, and perfectly suited for our group. All details were taken care of by Redfoot/Rex, including being met at the Johannesburg airport, which was a huge help on our way home! Can't say enough about Rex, George, and MalaMala. Loved the trip!!

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