Family Travel Network: Planning a Family Safari

January 12, 2010  By: Africa Adventure Consultants

The Family Travel Network recently interviewed Africa Adventure Consultants president, Kent Redding, on planning a successful family safari. Read the complete story by editor Nancy Schretter on the Family Travel Network, but learn from some of Kent’s sage advice from the article below (he has two young boys that were troopers on their carefully designed family safari in East Africa last summer):

Q. What do you find makes the difference in the quality of the safari experience for families?

A. A great safari experience depends on the following factors:

* A good itinerary – in addition to the flow and pacing, it’s critical to pick the right location for
the right time of year.
* Quality guiding
* Quality vehicles
* Appropriate accommodations
* Opportunities for interesting experiences

Q. What tend to be favorite safari experiences for kids ages 5-11? How about for ‘tweens and teens?

A. Seeing wildlife is a thrill for all children and teens, but they are often most interested in interacting with local people and enjoying hands-on activities. Younger kids tend to really enjoy meeting African kids. On our recent family safari, our boys enjoyed playing soccer with local school kids, throwing rocks, and learning to shoot a bow and arrow with a local Maasai. Older kids tend to also enjoy the culture, but really get into the active adventures including walking safaris or shorter nature walks, climbing trees, soaking in hot springs or under waterfalls, exploring, camping, etc.

Q. What should families do to prepare their children for an Africa safari?

A. Many things. First, parents should talk with their kids – at length and over time – to tell them what they might experience in Africa. They should find out what questions, concerns and interests they have, and then address those ahead of time with the goal of having their children be excited and motivated to enjoy their safari. There is nothing worse than having a person (adult or child) in remote Africa when they don’t want to be there. Providing maps, books, pictures and stories about Africa and discussing them ahead of time is a great idea.

We also suggest parents find out one or more things that the children are particularly interested in and see if they can be incorporated into the itinerary. For example, this may be something as simple as the children want to see a giraffe. Knowing this, we can have the family visit places where giraffes are often seen.

On a more practical level, parents should:

* Get their children the appropriate inoculations and anti-malarials. Talk with your pediatrician and a local travel clinic for guidance.
* Check passports to make sure they are valid and have enough blank pages for visas for your trip
* Purchase travel insurance that includes medical evacuation coverage
* Buy appropriate clothing including good sun hats and footwear
* Choose some toys, games and activities to bring along for the long flights and downtime on the safari. One must keep in mind, however, that there are baggage weight limits on most safaris.

Don’t be afraid to take kids on safari. They love it and it’s a wonderful vacation for the whole family.

For more on the Q & A between Nancy and Kent, read The Family Travel Network.