With the southern hemisphere spring and festive holiday seasons fast approaching, you may not be aware that many safari lodges and camps are genuinely family friendly – that is, not only do they tolerate children, they actively welcome them! Some have even devised and developed a range of fun activities and clubs to keep your little ones happy, entertained, educated and exploring ...
[Last updated on 25 May 2022]
As a parent, you'll know full well that a happy child = a happy parent. And what more could you wish for on your African safari? So stop thinking about what to do with your kids while you're on safari. Bring them along to share an experience they'll never forget.
We've put together a selection of some terrific, child-friendly safari lodges to give you an idea of what's on offer. (Don't have children? No problem, these are great lodges you could easily enjoy on safari with your parents, too. Or recommend to your friends that do have kids.)
Child-friendly lodges in Greater Kruger National Park
Mohlabetsi Safari Lodge I Balule Game Reserve
Mohlabetsi is an affordable, family-friendly, intimate safari lodge with only six African-style thatched rondavels and two family lodges. The family lodges consist of two rooms with an inter-leading door for privacy. The main room has a queen bed and the second has two single beds.
Both rooms are large enough to accommodate an extra bed for additional family members, sleeping a total of up to six, making Mohlabetsi Safari Lodge's family lodges a wonderful option for budget-conscious families travelling in a safari bubble. Each room is en-suite with an open-air shower.
There are lovely shady lawns beneath ancient trees where the children can stretch their legs after a good game viewing outing. Children under 12 pay half price and every year in winter Mohlabetsi runs a Pay Two Nights & Stay for Three Special (currently valid until 30 June 2022).
Rates at Mohlabetsi Safari Lodge include:
- En-suite accommodation
- Three delicious meals daily
- Morning and evening game drive with armed guides and trackers
- Daily guided bush walk with armed tracker/guide
- Free WiFi
Simbavati River Lodge I Timbavati Private Nature Reserve
Built on the shady banks of a scenic river in the Greater Kruger's Timbavati Private Nature Reserve, Simbavati is a warm and welcoming family-style lodge with eight luxury tents and three secluded, comfortably furnished, en-suite thatched family chalets.
Children have an activity plan to help them discover more about the fascinating world of wildlife, with loads of reference books to assist, and hands-on bush-tracking with an experienced ranger. There's also an activity room at their disposal, stocked with games, toys and board games, and an inviting swimming pool. Children aged six and older are allowed on game drives.
If you have younger children, you can arrange a dedicated private vehicle which you need to book ahead. Babysitters are available at an additional cost during mealtimes and game drives. Children younger than three stay free of charge and children between the ages of four and eleven pay half price.
Rates at Simbavati River Lodge include:
- Luxury en-suite accommodation
- Three excellent meals per day
- Two game drives per day in open safari vehicles
- Teas and coffees
Child-friendly lodges in Zimbabwe
The Kingdom Hotel I Victoria Falls
Just its appearance will enthral your children. The Kingdom Hotel in Victoria Falls looks like something out of King Solomon's Mines era, or from a lost civilisation. In fact, the hotel's architecture resembles the grand style of ancient 'Great Zimbabwe'.
It's become one of Victoria Falls' best-known family hotels, offering affordability, quality and comfort. Centrally located and close to all the town's major attractions, The Kingdom Hotel a short walk to the entrance of Victoria Falls.
The Kingdom Hotel's facilities are very family orientated. There are three swimming pools, including a paddling pool for toddlers, a wide choice of restaurants to suit all tastes, the Great Enclosure indoor entertainment area with a supervised play area, babysitting services (own cost) and an on-site activity-booking facility.
Of The Kingdom’s 294 rooms, 74 are family rooms. 34 family rooms have king-size beds and bunk beds and 40 have twin beds and bunk beds. Contact us for child rates and special offers.
Rates at The Kingdom Hotel include:
- Free cocktail per guest at check-in
Family-friendly lodges in Botswana
Chobe Marina Lodge I Chobe National Park
Chobe Marina Lodge is perfectly located on the edge of the Chobe River, almost where four African countries meet —Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Namibia. Victoria Falls is about 70 km away.
Chobe Marina is a fair-sized lodge with 66 rooms ranging from studios to chalets, apartments to suites. There's a choice of formal and family restaurants and poolside and riverside bars. Children under 12 are allowed on game drives and riverboat safaris, at the manager's discretion.
Children of all ages are welcome at Chobe Marina Lodge. Contact us for more details on child rates and special offers.
Rates at Chobe Marina Lodge include:
- Three meals per day
- Two game activities per day
Nxabega Okavango Tented Camp I Okavango Delta
Beautifully situated in the watery wonderland of the Okavango, Nxabega is a permanent camp with only nine en-suite luxury tented suites. Two luxury tented suites are linked by an enclosed walkway, making it perfect for a family of four.
The en-suite bathrooms have indoor and outdoor showers and each tent has a spacious, private verandah. On special request, a third bed can be placed in one of the tents for children younger than 12 only.
While children of all ages are welcome at Nxabega Okavango Tented Camp, those aged six to 12 are only permitted on game drives at the lodge manager's discretion. 12 years and older can enjoy game drives and the unique experience of game viewing by mokoro.
Only children 16 and over can enjoy the bush walks. While children under six can't take part in any of the game viewing activities (this is wild Africa and too risky), there are child-minders available (own cost) so you are still free to enjoy the wildlife activities.
The special WILDchild package is offered at Nxabega. This is a fun and interactive programme that offers children the opportunity to learn about and discover nature and explore new experiences and cultures. They each receive a personalised, age-appropriate goodie bag filled with games, stationery and toys. Contact us for child rates and special offers.
Rates at Nxabega Okavango Tented Camp include:
- Accommodation and all meals
- All soft drinks, house wines, local brand spirits and beers
- Teas and coffees
- Safari activities
- Emergency medical evacuation insurance
- Transfers to and from the lodge airstrip
Child-friendly lodges in malaria-free, Big Five Madikwe Game Reserve
Madikwe Safari Lodge I Madikwe Game Reserve
Madikwe is one of the largest and more remote reserves in North West South Africa. It's very popular with families as it offers a Big 5, malaria-free safari. Of the three lodges at Madikwe Safari Lodge, Lelapa (means family in the local tongue) is perfect for a family safari for all generations.
With 12 generous suites, Lelapa has a home-away-from-home atmosphere with all the creature comforts you could wish for. A good deal of thought and planning has gone into making children feel welcome and part of the safari experience. Specially planned meals, unique outings, making plaster-of-Paris moulds of animal paw-prints, baking and pizza making, stargazing and loads more activities involve, educate and entertain children of all ages while leaving you free to really unwind and enjoy your safari experience.
Children over six years of age are welcome on adult game drives. Children aged two to six may only go on family safari vehicles that don't go on close sightings of lions and elephants. Babysitters are available at your own cost. Only kids older than 16 can go on bushwalks. Contact us for child rates and ask about special offers, especially special offers that include two nights for free in Cape Town if you book a three-night stay at Lelapa.
Rates at Madikwe Safari Lodge include:
- All meals, teas and coffees, bush breakfasts and dinners, picnic lunches
- Soft drinks, local beers, spirits and house wines
- Two game drives daily with a qualified ranger
- Game drive refreshments and snacks
- Transfers to and from Madikwe Airstrip
- Wildlife lectures
- Children's activities
- Conservation and park fees
Tau Game Lodge I Madikwe Game Reserve
Probably the biggest safari lodge in malaria-free Madikwe Game Reserve, Tau Game Lodge is situated on the far northern border of the park. Privately owned, the lodge can accommodate up to 60 people in 30 luxury chalets, each with a private viewing deck overlooking the vast, very active waterhole. All the Family Suites and Family Units have two semi inter-leading spacious bedrooms and share a comfortable lounge.
Tau Game Lodge has an extensive children's programme. Children aged three to five are automatic members of the Tau Cubz Club which stimulates and entertains with a host of fun activities, projects and special game drives. Children between the ages of six and 11 can join the adults on game drives and are then free to enjoy Cubz Club activities with their siblings.
There's a large playroom kitted out with an array of arts and crafts for supervised activities. The curio shop also stocks entertaining wildlife puzzles, interactive DVDs and games. Early dinners can also be arranged and babysitters are available (own cost). Please contact us for child rates and feel free to enquire about any special offers.
Rates at Tau Game Lodge include:
- Accommodation and all meals
- Two game drives a day in open safari vehicles
- Airstrip transfers (if you book your scheduled flight through Tau Game Lodge)
- Welcome backpack and goodies for children
- Special game drives for three- to five-year-olds
And this list is by no means definitive. There are many excellent, child-friendly — and multi-generational — tented safari camps and safari lodges where your whole family can get enjoy the safari of a lifetime and a very special time together. Let us know where you're considering going on safari and we'll gladly give you some great family-oriented options and insider tips.
Have you been on safari with your children before? Would you consider it? Please let us know your thoughts, comments and concerns in the comments below.
You may also want to look at
We're often asked if it's easy to travel and safari in Southern Africa as a family unit. Our answer? "Of course, yes!" But don't take our word for it ... see what the Feldman Family has to say.
Is it safe out there? Should I travel this year or postpone my plans? What is happening in South Africa? Is it safe to travel right now? We've been getting these questions often during the pandemic. Let's unpack the risks and realities.
Madikwe Game Reserve in South Africa's North-West Province has several surprises in store. It's one of the best conservation areas in Africa. It's a Big 5 reserve. It's malaria-free. And it has a whole lot more to offer ...
About the author
A 'word smith' or copywriter with over 25 years experience, love travelling, wildlife and conservation; fascinated by alternative energy, alternative building and alternative health. Consummate reader and traveller, both internationally and southern Africa. Have two remarkable daughters that continue to amaze and teach me daily. Consider myself privileged to live on the best continent on the planet.