Where to Take Your Next Family Vacation
Spring break has come and gone, and it’s time to buckle down for the rest of the school year. But that doesn’t mean you can’t start planning your next family vacation! Spending time on a wildlife- or nature-based vacation is one of the few things that everyone from small kids to grandparents can enjoy together. Game viewing, walking, boating and canoeing in nature creates shared experiences and memories to last a lifetime. We travel with our own families and based on our own experiences, we’ve put together a roundup of some of our favorite places to visit with our families throughout Africa and beyond! Read on to find out more about your next family safari adventure!
Tanzania is a great safari destination for families. It is home to massive amounts of wildlife, incredible culture, and warm, friendly people. They have been welcoming tourists for a long time and know how to cater to families. There are plenty of kid-centric activities like learning to throw a spear with a Hadza tribesman, learning bush skills from a Maasai warrior, and learning how to ‘read’ animal tracks, along with a wide range of family-friendly accommodations. And did we mention the wildlife?
A few of our favorite accommodations are Chem Chem, Mkombe’s House, and The Highlands.
- Chem Chem welcomes families with children ages 6 and up and offers a wide range of kids’ activities. The camp can also be booked exclusively should you have a large family group planning a safari.
- We love Mkombe’s House because it’s the only private, self-contained house in the Serengeti. Better yet, it was designed with little children in mind! Freedom from schedules is how things are based, meaning families can do what they want, when they want.
- With nature walks, cultural encounters and the amazing game that makes the Ngorongoro Crater so famous, The Highlands is a great choice for families with kids aged 5 and up.
Kenya is a wonderful family destination. In addition to the world renowned Masai Mara, the bordering reserves offer privacy, flexibility and lots of adventure. Northern and southern Kenya have lots of unique activities and rich cultural experiences. Arrival in Nairobi allows families the chance to get up close and personal with giraffes at the Giraffe Center, or with orphaned baby elephants at the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust.
- For cultural immersion and insight into Maasai culture, we’d recommend Campi ya Kanzi in Kenya’s Chyulu Hills. It’s small and intimate, and offers accommodations ranging from tents to a private villa, with a maximum of 16 guests at one time.
- Cottar’s Bush Villa is the only real luxury private villa in the Masai Mara. It has 5 ensuite Bedrooms (4 doubles and 1 twin) and is a great, exclusive-use option for families. It has private dining and living areas, comes with a private guides and vehicles and has a swimming pool. Their special ‘Warrior School’ for kids will give children a taste of bushcraft – tracking animals, how to shoot a bow and arrow, and more.
- Further north, Lewa House is on a private conservancy. A stay gives families the opportunity to not only see wildlife but to learn about conservation. We can even plan a visit to park headquarters to meet the reserve’s wildlife rangers and tracker dogs. Another unique activity is a full day excursion to Ngare Ndare forest. It’s a great opportunity to get out of the vehicle and hike in a beautiful forest on the foothills of Mt. Kenya – you can even go for a swim and enjoy a picnic!
“The most fascinating part of my trip was every moment spent at Campi ya Kanzi. From getting to know the landscape through hiking the Cloud Forest, to dining in an awe-inspiring lava tube as a special treat, and just getting to know the staff and guides onsite through our time spent together… Campi ya Kanzi will always hold a special place in my heart.” – AAC Traveler K. Moore
A visit to Zimbabwe holds the promise of incredible family fun! Victoria Falls, Hwange and Mana Pools offer family-friendly activities like river cruises, fishing, canoeing, and more. A helicopter flight over the Falls is sure to thrill everyone! Wildlife in Zimbabwe’s parks and reserves is prolific, with a special highlight being the huge number of elephants found in Hwange National Park. Some of our favorite camps include…
- Somalisa Acacia (one of our ‘10 Safari Camps to Visit Before You Die‘) – its tents are designed for families. Interleading walkways and connecting bedrooms let everyone be all under one roof. From nature walks around camp and storytelling to cultural arts and crafts, it offers a fun and educational environment for children on safari.
- Bomani Tented Lodge – there are no rigid schedules at Bomani, allowing families to set their own pace. School and village visits give kids insight into locals’ daily lives, while game viewing from a sunken ‘hide’ lets you get close up to animals in a completely protected environment. The 2-bedroom family suite is set apart from main camp.
- Ruckomechi has two beautiful family rooms and sits on a private concession in Mana Pools National Park. It’s a true ‘get away from it all’ destination, and families can enjoy game drives, river cruises, canoeing (age dependent), fishing and more.
South Africa has lots of appeal for families. It has great beaches, mountains for hiking, adrenaline activities and, of course, incredible marine and terrestrial wildlife – there’s something for everyone. South Africa is home to the ‘Big 7,’ (add the southern right whale and great white shark to the Big 5), and in addition to traditional Big 5 safaris, land (or sea)-based whale watching is seasonally available. Another benefit for families is its malaria-free game reserves and national parks and that the destination has myriad options that cater to a wide range of budgets. A few of our family-centric lodges are…
- Ask us about Grootbos, a family-friendly lodge on the coast offering marine and mountain excursions (along with wonderful food, incredible views and gorgeous accommodation – including private villas, if that’s what is best for your family).
- Kwandwe is another firm family favorite. It offers a huge range of activities for families, including traditional safaris, walks, scavenger hunts and more. They have wonderful programs for kids that are both fun and educational. They even offer a children’s menu, as well as babysitting by experienced child minders should you wish to have an adults-only activity or meal.
- Brand new Kubili House sits in the Thornybush Game Reserve abutting Kruger National Park. Kubili House is a private, exclusive-use boutique safari residence with 5 bedrooms. It has already become known for its excellent service, and guests are also excited by their unique offerings including Segue safaris, archery and a special sleep out. Families have total control of their daily activities with the run of the property.
Ecuador is ripe with adventure. It has the beautiful Andes mountains to explore, the incredible biodiversity of the cloud forest and the Amazon rainforest, and the famous Galapagos Islands. The amazing wildlife and marine life are cause for excitement, and fun activities like cruises, snorkeling, and kayaking keep families busy and happy.
- Time aboard the La Pinta yacht is the perfect way for families to explore the Galapagos. With only 48 guests, it’s a mid-sized ship that offers fun and adventure, and a great way to see the Islands’ famous wildlife. They have an excellent ‘Young Pirates’ for kids 7-12.
- Families can get a taste of hacienda life in the Andes with a visit to Hacienda Zuleta. Families are welcomed like family at this beautiful property tucked into a lush Andean valley. Horseback riding, hiking, cycling, and bird watching are wonderful for most any age, while milking cows, treasure hunts, straw house building, bonfires, and becoming an Ecuadorian cowboy provide endless fun for children!