Family Safaris - Questions and Answers
Is Africa safe?
The personal security of our traveling clients is our prime concern. We constantly monitor the situation on the ground, and will only recommend you travel to countries, regions, and even specific camps where we feel you will be completely safe. Our constant contacts with local ground handlers, camp owners and managers, and safari guides on the ground means we're first to hear of any potential problems. A properly planned family safari will be safe, enjoyable and free of stress.
Where are the best countries to take our children?
The majority of the regions where we operate safaris work well with children. Our personal recommendation will depend on a number of factors, including the time of year you wish to travel, the ages and interests of your children, and what you expect and hope to experience on your visit to Africa.
What is the youngest age you can take a child on safari?
It's not possible to generalize: even children the same age vary widely in their maturity and levels of interest in Africa and its wildlife. Most of the family safaris we arrange are planned for children aged six years and over, though we have sent families with younger children on hugely successful safaris. The best person to answer this question is yourself: you know what vacations have worked in the past with your child, their likes and dislikes. The most important things to bear in mind are that the places you stay can cater to your family's needs, and that any other guests will be comfortable with young children in their vicinity. When choosing lodges and camps for family safaris we tend to favor those where the owners and camp managers have young children of their own.
What happens during the evening and at night?
A key part of the safari experience is relaxing in the evening and enjoying al fresco dining: this is just as true for families as it is for any other traveler. Children of all ages will be welcome at the dinner table, but early mealtimes can be organized for younger children if required, and babysitters can be booked to allow parents to relax, sure that their children are sleeping peacefully.
When it comes to sleeping arrangements, some camps and lodges have interconnecting tents and cottages, which is always ideal for those traveling with younger children. Even if this type of accommodation can not be provided, it is usually feasible to put an extra child bed into a safari tent or guest bedroom. On other occasions, parents might choose to separate at night and each sleep with one or more child through the night. Usually such measures are not necessary, as the young are often more adventurous than their parents expect. Tents are invariably fitted with a whistle or a klaxon for attracting attention, and often children can be supplied with a cb radio to call for help if required. For lots of children, sleeping away from their parents in a cozy tent of their own is a highlight of their safari.
What about malaria and other diseases?
It is vital not to under-estimate the threat of malaria, and we keep a close eye on the prevalence of the disease in parts of Africa and continuing developments in malaria prophylaxis. In safari areas where malaria is found the new medications are shown to be effective for both adults and children, with few - if any - side-effects. Currently the drug of choice is Malarone, with a pediatric formulation available to immunize any child weighing over 33 lbs. All the camps we use have good mosquito nets and repellents, and we also encourage you to visit malarial areas in cooler, drier seasons, when mosquitoes - and, for that matter, all insects - are least active.
Not all Africa is malarial. There are plenty of excellent safari camps in non-malarial areas, so don't let this put you off travel.
What happens if my child is ill?
All the camps we use are equipped with a full medical emergency kit and staff trained in first aid, and even the most remote camps have the communications to talk to, or summon, a doctor. Where necessary we can arrange a medical evacuation, where a plane, often a specially adapted medi-rescue aircraft - will be called in to land at the nearest airstrip, but for this to be needed is very rare.
Can we combine the beach with a safari?
All children like to spend some time on a beach, and a few nights on the coast is the perfect finale for a family safari. Africa's Indian Ocean coast is blessed with endless beaches and turquoise seas, meaning you can often find your perfect patch of sand in the same country as your safari, though seasonal factors might mean you're better off flying out to Mauritius, the Seychelles or Zanzibar for some relaxing beach time. If beaches are important to you and your family you can always look further: even the remote islands off Mozambique and the new resorts off Madagascar have reasonable connections with the major African hub airports.