Frequently-Asked Questions

Why take my kids on safari?

Kids of all ages will benefit from being with you, with the grandparents, out in the wild breathing the freshest of air, experiencing eye-opening new cultures and landscapes, a new pace of life, and being welcomed by a family-centred people.

Guides are well-prepared to teach and enthuse children, and many lodges are run by families with youngsters themselves.

What we love most about having kids on safari is, utterly selfishly, being able to see it all happen to them – we spend more time watching their reactions than watching the events themselves unfold.

But the most obvious and tangible benefit is the cultural exchange; our kids leave home with an insular and self-centred world-view, but return as compassionate mini-adults with a perspective that colors the rest of their growing lives, and beyond. It challenges their basic assumptions, such as ‘everyone has water in their taps’, ‘most families have 2 cars’, ‘if you carry bananas on your head, you’re a clown’.

And regarding the pre-schoolers, there could be no better time to influence those neural pathways than during the time of your child’s most rapid brain growth (0-3 years): the neurons of the cerebral cortex develop from approx 2,500 synapses to approx 15,000 during this time – imagine the effect of a whole new and natural world on this tiny but explosive little whirring computer.

Is it safe to take my family on safari?

The answer is yes – if you and your children are intelligent and listen! It is as safe to take your children on safari as it is to take them anywhere else in the world; the same common-sense needs to prevail.

We have the utmost concern for your children’s safety, and all the accommodation and activities we suggest have conscientious safety regs in place, whilst being free enough to avoid mollycoddling you like your own countries do.

Although the photos make it look like a lion wanders across your path every five minutes, just between you and us, this is not the case.

If your children are completely unruly and you cannot control them, we would recommend you head for somewhere child-proofed, and we’d request you don’t book with us as your children’s behaviour may damage our relationships with our lodge-owner friends in Africa.

The one caveat to this is special needs children: we understand that some children are not badly behaved, but simply find it hard to be quiet or keep still when requested. If your children have special needs we can suggest great places where you will still get the uncompromised wildlife experience whilst your children can be free to be themselves. We absolutely support special needs children (and adults!) on safari. It doesn’t need to be harder to get you all out to Africa on a wildlife adventure just because there are special needs involved.

Will we get eaten by a crocodile?

 

You’ve got more chance of winning the lottery twice, than being eaten by a croc.

You’ve got more chance of living to 110 years old than being eaten by a lion.

You are more likely to see a snake in England or the USA than in Africa.
We’ve never seen one in the wild on either land mass!

 

Are my children too young for an African safari?

Youngsters love being in the fresh air with you. Just because they may not recognise the significance of where they are and how lucky they are, it does not mean the daily unfolding adventures with their family are lost on them.

Take every opportunity to experience life, is our view!

The main consideration for the younger ones is finding activities that will keep them enthralled all day – with and without you.

Some camps and lodges do not allow children under 8, and while others do, it is important to find the right accommodations with the right attitude and set-up.

Why book with a family safari specialist?

We have taken the time over the last 10 years to sit with the owners of the lodges that we recommend, and talk to them about the very particular needs of our family guests.

We know that they know how to give you, your kids, your grandkids, your grandparents, the most peaceful and exhilarating safari experience. They understand what it takes, because we do. And we understand because we are parents, and we are ex-teachers, and we are Africa experts.

How do I prepare my kids for a safari?

The best way we find is to read (it always comes back to reading!).

Below is a list of some fab books to have a plough through over the months before you head out, and a great idea we’ve come up with for 4+ years is playing African animal top trumps; remember the trumps game when you were young?

Same thing, but with African wildlife, and you find that they inadvertently learn the names and all about various African mammals. It’s quite fun for grown-ups to play too.

You also want to be realistic with your own expectations, and make sure you communicate with us about how long you think your kids can sit in a game drive vehicle, for example, or if you know one of your kids really hates walking and you’re planning on a walking safari.

This won’t impact your experience, as often your kids can be accommodated separately from you if you want to get the most out of your own game-viewing time. Spending a little time thinking yourself about how it could work, and talking to us about the different personalities and preferences in your group, will go a long way.



Will I / my parents be well catered for on a “3G” safari?

3-generational travel is a well known phenomenon by now, careful consideration is not simply reserved for the kids.

Grandparents who are unsteady will be given rooms close to the action so that they don’t have to walk too far, and will be able to avoid hillside accommodations.

Grandparents who have health needs will have special arrangements organized directly with Africa well ahead of time. There is plenty of scope for self-paced activities and there is no need for the family to be doing the same thing at the same time all the time.

In fact, we find the happiest campers are those who are offered the most flexibility and freedom to do as they choose.

What do I need to pack for the family?

Your kids’ packing list will be much the same as yours, plus a very minimum of favorite toys and a few extra books (activity and reading).

Pens are always useful, and you will make firm friends with local children if you are able to donate some during your trip.

Do remember to bring extra medication and prescription spectacles, along with copies of your passports and kids’ birth certificates, and pack in two separate places for extra insurance.

Other than that, consider presenting everyone in your group with their own pair of binoculars and camera so they can really take charge of their own wildlife-viewing experience.

Will there be a nanny or childcare service?

Erm… no, mostly not. On safari in most of Africa there won’t be a dedicated service or kids club for which you can sign up.

However there will be many staff on hand who are focussed on the children, and we can always ensure that the places you go will offer you the help you need.

The exceptions to this are the bigger accommodations, along with some beach hotels in Tanzania, Kenya and Mozambique.

Will there be other children on safari?

This isn’t something you should plan upon, in fact many of the higher-level accommodations have a ‘one family’ rule if younger kids are involved.

Your kids are unlikely to make friends as they might on an organized European vacation, they will be there with only you, the environment, the staff, and each other for entertainment.

It sounds scary, but it works!

The exception is again the beach-front hotels and the bigger safari accommodations.

Will my kids get bored?

NO!!

There may be an adjustment period as the kids go cold-turkey from technology, but we’ve never found a bored child on safari.

There is a large chunk of time in between the morning game viewing and the evening. But this is filled by swimming, playing games with the staff, visiting a local school or village, cooking etc.

Self-reliance is the key here and you’ll be surprised how the kids adapt naturally to the new challenge of life in Africa.

Will we need to have injections/take pills?

It depends where you’re going and where you’ve been. For a guide, have a look at the UK’s Fit For Travel site. There are many malaria-free destinations which are great for kids, and this list is growing as malaria is on the decline.

Yellow Fever vaccinations are required within the central band of Africa (Tanzania, Kenya, Rwanda etc), but only if you are coming from another country which has yellow fever. If you are flying direct you don’t need the vaccination.

I am worried about our luggage allowance

This is a concern for many people going on safari, not just those with kids, because you need to keep your luggage weight to 20Kg (44lbs) to fly on most light aircraft and helicopters, and pack in soft holdalls.

However, if you are planning to self-drive, or you’re just sticking to the larger commercial aircraft, you will have more allowance.

Babies do need more ‘stuff’ than most of us, but you will find that 90% of what you need can be provided upon arrival.

Cribs and highchairs are easy to sort, as are car seats. Food can be puréed fresh every meal, so you need to concentrate on the really essential items like Sophie the Giraffe and Jellycat Bunny.

Family Members with Special Needs

Whilst we understand that special needs are a special concern, they needn’t be in this day and age, and that goes for safari travel too.

A little bit of preparation and there’s no reason why the whole family can’t enjoy a life-affirming wilderness holiday together, without compromise.

What kind of accommodation should we choose for our family?

Your ideal accommodation is likely to be a private, exclusive-use house or villa with your own staff, where your kids’ schedules will be easily accommodated and you’ll feel totally relaxed with them running around making noise and mess.

There are some fab family-loving owner-run lodges and camps where slightly older kids will fit right in (7/8 yrs+), and the bigger accommodations on the beach front will have family-focussed facilities and activities.

Mostly if it’s not appropriate to have children, the lodges and camps will tell you at the beginning.

That gives you a good guide if you are exploring possibilities online.

Can we visit an African school or village?

Most places that you are likely to stay will have a village and a school nearby, and it will be no trouble to organise a visit there.

The villagers will welcome you with open arms, and even play a game of football with you, or sing a song upon your arrival. Many wilderness lodges set up schools themselves to assist the locals who often suffer due to living so remotely.

Where is the best place for a family safari?

The million dollar question! Luckily we have some up to date info to help you choose where to take the family this year: have a look at our post on the best family safari 2017. And talk to us! Our advice is free and we’re pretty clued up after decades in the industry..

Is it worth it, going all the way to Africa with our children?

The world is your oyster; you could choose to take your children anywhere to have a good time.

However we believe that Africa is not just a holiday destination, it is the cradle of humankind and you cannot fail but be enriched by it.

One of our lovely guests, Nick, told us ‘I first stepped onto Kenyan soil in 1972… I felt that I had arrived home, a feeling that has never left me’.

This is the place where it all started – life as we know it – and your kids can see, feel and taste this history first hand.

You will change the structure of their brains through their experiences here, and this will have an impact on the rest of their lives.

We think it’s absolutely worth it to take your children to Africa. In fact, we would campaign for it to be included in the National Curriculum if it were practical for it to be mandatory for all children to experience Africa.

I have more questions, what can I do?

WE LOVE TALKING SAFARIS!
Give us a call, or send us an email, and ‘waste our time’. We are incredibly knowledgeable and our driving force is to share Africa with as many families as we can, whether or not you book with Abambo.


It’s the teacher in us.
GET IN TOUCH