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Whilst many beach resorts have always been family friendly - and Cape Town, the Garden Route and accommodation in the National Parks and Game Reserves of South Africa have long welcomed children - many of the private safari camps and lodges throughout much of Africa have been the preserve of adults unless guests were prepared to take them over privately. Increasingly however, many safari camps and operators are as family friendly as possible and offer dedicated children’s programmes.
There has been marked increase in the last decade or so of Malaria free game reserves in South Africa. Many parents are nervous about younger children taking Malaria medication so the lodges and camps based in Malaria free game reserves, such as those found in the Eastern Cape and north of Johannesburg in the Limpopo and North West Province, are so fantastic for families with very young children or a mix of age ranges.
Not only are they Malaria free but they are in areas that are largely free from any of the diseases and infections often associated with Africa. The lodges we use are completely safety conscious with accommodation units designed specifically with young children and families in mind. They are usually fenced camps to stop large animals wandering in and small things wandering out. But best of all they have dedicated children’s programmes for the very youngest member of the family up to those approaching their teens. Examples include crèche facilities with baby sitters, junior kid’s clubs, young ranger courses for the slightly older - even different dining times and menus can be designed accordingly. Parents then have the choice to go off on game drives with the other guests or join in with the junior safari activities.
In addition to these super child friendly camps and lodges, those seeking a little more exclusivity are also well catered for as there are now several lodges and homesteads specifically designed to be taken over by families or groups of friends who want their own personal safari with their own itinerary. At these lodges, usually sleeping 5 – 10 people, guests have their own game viewing vehicle and guide, staff, chef and baby sitter. Obviously this comes at a price, but for larger families or families travelling together this can often be less than imagined.
Outside South Africa there are some other camps and lodges located in non-malarial reserves or low risk areas, and there are lots more family friendly options popping up by the day. In Namibia and Botswana some camps have added family units which tend to be large luxury tented facilities with en suite bathrooms aimed primarily at families with children over 6, but in low season some will consider accepting younger visitors. Zambia too has seen an increase in private safari houses with fantastic options in South Luangwa, Victoria Falls and Lower Zambezi. Kenya also has private house options in the Masai Mara and some good child friendly options at lodges with kid’s clubs.
Mauritius, the Seychelles and Dubai have always been family friendly and continue to be so. Some hotels now have separate wings where children under 12 aren’t allowed, which avoids those raised eyebrows around the pool when children dare to enjoy themselves.