Family safari inspiration for 2022 and beyond
If you are looking to reconnect, restore your soul and rejuvenate after a challenging couple of years then we’ve got some great ideas to inspire you. These family safari suggestions combine adventure, superb wildlife experiences, charismatic guides and beautiful lodges. All you could possibly want on your next holiday.
Zambia and Malawi adventure – private safari houses and superb wildlife
Zambia for safari and Lake Malawi for some R&R is a combination that never fails to delight. With a broad range of safari activities, it’s a particularly good safari option for families travelling with teens. Start close to Livingstone and you can explore the Victoria Falls where you’ll find bungee jumping, white water rafting, helicopter flights and river cruises. It’s a perfect introduction to Africa – not quite safari proper but most definitely not your average European holiday destination. Stay on the shores of the Zambezi River at private bush home Tangala House, or, for a really adventurous start take over Sindabezi Island, a stunning island camp in mid-river.
The Lower Zambezi and South Luangwa are Zambia’s top national parks. Little visited compared to many, they’re bursting with iconic wildlife and dramatic scenery. Alongside wildlife drives, the South Luangwa is famous for walking safaris while the Lower Zambezi provides wonderful water-based wildlife viewing. Leopard and wild dog are regular sightings, night drives reveal a whole new world and the bird life is compelling. Best of all, families can enjoy this paradise from the privacy of several super safari houses, calling the shots to suit the ages, wishes and interests of your party. Top choices are Chongwe House in the Lower Zambezi and Luangwa House in the South Luangwa.
The sandy shores of Lake Malawi are a short flight away – think morning wildlife drive and afternoon tea on the beach – yet a world apart from the safari plains. Keeping with the private house theme Ndomo Point, part of stunning Kaya Mawa, is a great spot for some downtime. With its sunny terraces, private pool and beach just steps away it’s a magical place to spend a few days. Stroll down to the main lodge and you’ll find kayaks, kite surfing and waterskiing on offer. There are quad bikes and mountain bikes too and it is well worth taking a trip to the nearby Katundu workshop as well as St Peter’s Cathedral.
Malaria free South Africa
Malaria free safaris feature regularly in our planning and, with some really fabulous spots outside the malarial zone, there’s no need to compromise on the safari experience. South Africa is really the go-to country, in particular the Cape region, Madikwe Game Reserve and the Waterberg. Combine the three and you have all the elements of a cracking family safari. Cape Town isn’t known as the mother city for nothing; it’s abuzz with life and energy and definitely worth a night or two pre or post safari. If you stick with the Cape region then the obvious safari spot is Kwandwe were three private houses provide the perfect base from which to enjoy this Big Five wilderness. The guides are great with kids and a strong conservation focus adds an extra element.
Madikwe Game Reserve, north of Johannesburg and tucked against the border with Botswana is one of South Africa’s lesser known parks and is home to a wealth of wildlife as well as some superb camps and lodges. Morukuru’s three private houses range in size from two to five bedrooms, while the tented suites at Jaci’s Safari Lodge will knock the socks off kids and adults alike. Lelapa Lodge, one of the three that comprise Madikwe Safari Lodge, is a luxurious option – stunning in setting and furnishings but with a wonderfully family-friendly atmosphere. The park itself is home to all the usual animal suspects, a host of colourful birds and myriad safari activities.
The rolling hills of the Waterberg conceal The Ant Collection, one of South Africa’s loveliest family safari spots. Ant’s Nest, a converted traditional homestead, and Ant’s Hill, perched on a cliff, cater for all ages and specialise in a ‘home from home’ experience, ultimate flexibility and a vast array of safari activities. The diverse topography of the private reserve supports over 40 species of wildlife including white rhino and the beautiful, but rarely seen, sable antelope. Guests can explore on horseback, on foot, on bicycles or in rugged 4x4s – the number of repeat visitors speaks volumes for this true safari favourite.
Safari less ordinary – Botswana mobile and Mozambique beach
When Africa’s wildlife first became of interest to the outside world, the only way to see it was to load wagons with the supplies and equipment needed to sustain you for several weeks and set off into the bush on a long expedition. There are many ways to visit Africa now, but the allure of that original style is still strong and a mobile safari is an excellent way to explore a particular area and enjoy your own private space in the bush.
In a nutshell, a mobile safari is a private vehicle with your own guide and a back-up crew who assemble camp, conjure three course meals from the unlikeliest ovens, light fires and heat water. It’s camping with the best boy scouts in the world as your support team. Not only are all your needs catered for, but you also have the luxury of travelling with a group of people you know well. Your guide will quickly get to know everyone, learning what your interests are and then planning activities to suit you all.
Botswana, with its fabulous wildlife and a huge expanse of pristine wilderness, is a particularly good choice for a mobile safari. We work with a number of mobile operators but Annelies Zonjee-James at Drumbeat Safaris is a regular pick for a family group. Although she typically hosts rather than guides these days, her team is among the best in Botswana; unflappable, professional, fun and supremely knowledgeable about this patch of wilderness. A mobile safari might be a diversion from the norm but so often our returning clients will say it was the best part of their holiday.
After your fill of wildlife it’s lovely to combine a mobile with the beach. Wherever you choose from Botswana you’re likely to transit through South Africa so the options are numerous. To continue with the less usual theme, Santorini in southern Mozambique would hit the spot. While ‘small Greek village’ in the raw African landscape sounds quite bonkers, this collection of pretty villas is anything but. Bookable either on an exclusive use basis or room by room it’s a wonderful place to shake off the safari dust and relax by the ocean. If you’re still keen for activity there’s plenty to do with stand up paddle boarding, fishing, snorkelling and kite surfing among the activities on offer.
All singing all dancing Kenya
Kenya epitomises everything that is Africa. It hosted the first real wildlife holidays and its diversity of landscape, people and wildlife has drawn more people to safari than any other country in Africa. Best of all it’s great place to combine a family safari and beach holiday all in the same country. There’s great weather and wildlife during summer and Christmas school holidays, as well as June, October and February half terms (direct flights mean a week really is feasible).
Among charismatic safari camps are a very good handful run by those who’ve raised their children in the bush so really do know what it takes to make the perfect family safari. For an all singing, all dancing bush and beach combo Lengishu, Angama Mara Camp and Kinondo Kwetu would be up there with the best.
The four cottages and main house that make up Lengishu overlook the Laikipia plains deep in Kenya’s northern frontier territory. On the Borana Conservancy – the country’s newest and most successful rhino sanctuary – guests can enjoy a range of safari activities on land, by air and on horseback as well as hands-on conservation accompanied by a private guide.
With its remarkable position on the side of an escarpment, the tented suites at Angama Mara appear to float over the plains below. Head out on wildlife drives and you’re likely to encounter all of Africa’s great mammals, walking safaris and hot air ballooning can be arranged too, along with visits to local Masai villages.
‘To create an African home away from home, where you can wind down, completely content to do nothing at all – but with the option to do a lot of you want’, was the ethos behind Kinondo Kwetu. It’s an aim perfectly fulfilled and this gorgeous boutique beach lodge is an all-time Aardvark Safaris’ favourite – absolutely ideal for a beach stop to combine with safari.
We would be delighted to help with planning your perfect family safari holiday. Our team of experts has travelled widely, often with their own children, throughout Africa and the Indian Ocean and can offer expert advice. Do get in touch – chatting to people by phone or email is what we do best. We listen, we explain, we answer all sorts of questions even those you didn’t know to ask, and finally we make suggestions. If this is your first time to Africa or your twenty first, we have a team standing by to help make the planning easy and the journey the best ever. Please get in touch whatever stage you’re at.