My husband and I have fallen in love with Africa especially enjoy seeing the wildlife and going on safari. We adore pretty much everything about being on safari. Whether it is a day safari/game drive or a multiple day adventure. The whole feeling of being out in the wild, enjoying the scenery, looking over the savannah and spotting the wildlife makes a perfect safari and game drive.
Since our very first trip to Africa – over 14 years back, we have returned to South Africa and enjoyed Namibia and Botswana, which to date we call the TRUE Africa. But all without the kids.
We were eager to bring the kids and share this amazing feeling and our love we have for being on safari. This year it was finally time to introduce the kids to our passion. We realised very quickly whilst planning our upcoming trip, it needed a bit of adapting and research to make it family and young kids friendly.
One problem we needed to try and overcome is that the animals are free to roam within the parks and they can often hide in the bushes which is unreachable territory. It is quite possible to drive and wait for hours and only see a field mouse passing by and maybe an Impala. My husband and I don’t mind this. We love just to sit in our car and wait, and wait and wait a bit longer.
Well guess what, the kids not so much. The right balance of seeking the animals, waiting and making sure you find them is important.
Here are my top tips for a
Successful Safari Game Drive with Kids
Along the Garden Route
Based on personal experience
Go where there are animals to see.
South Africa game reserves are growing fast and there is a lot of choice. When first researching it is quite overwhelming to choose the right park for your family adventure. But on closer examination when planning a South Africa safari-game drive with kids, your choice actually narrows quite a bit. Not all parks allow young kids to join their game drives. And I think it is fair to separate the kids from the real enthusiastic fans, that sometimes pay a fortune to go day after day to get the right shot of the lion or being able to watch the leopard hunting. I also feel with younger kids it is not worth to spend a lot of money for some of the private parks.
Some great South African Game parks and ideal parks for families where kids will be able to observe the animals quite quickly in to the drive, are, in order of recommendation;
Kragga Kamma Wild Animal Park – self-drive and guided drives are possible.
Plettenberg Bay Private Game Reserve – guided drive kids welcome
Addo Elephant National Park – self-drive and guided drives are possible
In all three of these parks you can book accommodation within the park as well. I strongly recommend the Rhino Lodge at Kragga Kamma. If you’re lucky, just before sunset some of the animals will pass in front of your lodge on the way to the waterhole. An unforgettable experience for the whole family.
Plan the right time of the day
Guided game drives are normally organised early mornings and just before sunset. The theory is that the animals are most active during these hours. If you go on a self-drive tour you can obviously start your exploration at any time, but if you go guided you want to check if there is maybe a more suitable time for the kids available. Keep in mind that you will not be able to get out of your vehicle whilst on the drive and ensure that mealtime is not half way through. We found a 10h00 start was good for us. The kids concentration span is still manageable and they do not really need a snack. It is always good beforehand to let them run around to get rid of some energy release.
Ensure the activity is not too long
Every kid is different. Our kids are actually great travelers and do not mind being in a car for quite some time. But again, you might just want to check before you book a guided tour how long it will take. Normally a guided game drive is between 2-3 hours, but check that you might not have booked the one where they stop for one hour at a bird hide followed by an aperitif overlooking the Savannah. These are all great activities and I do recommend them highly – but not when having the kids with you. When you self-drive this is obviously not an issue but still plan your day carefully and allow no more than two hours in one stretch in the car. In most parks there is always a picnic/rest area which is fenced in and allows you to exit the cars in a safe environment.
Research and inform yourselves on vaccinations
As this post is mainly based on a South Africa safari game drive with kids, you should be ok with not having any vaccinations. But if you’re planning a trip further north or even combining some other African countries on your trip, check with your doctor if there is any medical prevention you need and most importantly do it well in advance of your trip.
Prepare your South African Safari Game Drive with Kids together at home
One of the best things when planning our trips is the actual planning and research I do at home. Involve your kids, no matter the age. Explain what they will hopefully be seeing and watch some animal videos. It is time to introduce the Disney Lion King to your kids if they have not seen it yet. You may want to fast forward at the hyaena section – but my point is, make a big thing out of it. The kids will be happy to get involved and your love for the wildlife will be transferred to them easily.
I believe if you follow these steps you will experience a great successful safari game drive with kids no matter where you are. I would not yet organise a multi day safari trip as our twins are just 3.5 years old, but this is a personal choice. For us it worked perfectly with some changes in between like a beach day, and a great forest walk. We felt like this way it is nearly guaranteed to have another successful safari game drive with kids.
South Africa is such an amazing family friendly country. But it is also a destination where the list of questions is probably longer then on some other trips. Read our; Frequently Asked Questions and all you need to know for a successful trip to South Africa with your kids.
And for some inspirations here is our 20 Day Road Trip Itinerary :: South Africa with young Kids
You may also like these posts about South Africa
I hope I could convince you that a successful safari game drive with kids, is possible on your next South Africa family trip. Don’t forget to share it with your friends I do appreciate it greatly.
Never forget to travel
Hi, my name is Corina, a mum of twins, a wife, a small holiday rental business owner and founder of Packed Again – family travel & adventure site. We live in the most amazing mountain valley in Switzerland, the Valais.
Being out there as a family, either locally or whilst travelling is super important for our whole well-being and sanity Travelling has always been a passion of mine. Globetrotting the world for over 14 years, part of it together with my husband, has shown us some of the most amazing places and we were able to make some incredible encounters with locals, animals and the nature itself. The love and passion for all the above has now been transferred to our children who already at three are some great nomads in the making.
It is our aim to encourage all families which are daunted and uncomfortable taking the kids travelling to go out there as a family. Do it once and you will not regret it!
Never forget to travel!
Thank you Corina
Travel MAKES one modest. You see what a TINY place you occupy in the worldGustav Flaubert