Planning the Best Family Safari with Teens

December 8th 2021  |   Family Safaris, Countries, Experiences, Kenya, Mauritius, Mozambique, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia  |  by   Richard Smith
Male teenagers drumming with male guides a Little Kulala Namibia Wilderness Safaris

We all know teenagers can be difficult: they operate on a different time zone to other humans, have the attention span of a gnat and really only like hanging out with other teens—much less Mum and Dad. So is it mad to plan a safari holiday with teenagers? Absolutely not! Get it right and it’s a wonderful family adventure full of excitement and laughter.

Exploring on a bush walk at Elephant Pepper Camp in Kenya’s Masai Mara

How to plan the perfect family safari with teens:

Choose your destination carefully

Even the most fanatical wildlife fan will tire of endless hours in a vehicle. Some destinations offer more variety than others with quad biking, horse riding, canoeing, walking and mountain biking on offer alongside traditional vehicle-based game viewing. Make sure there’s something for everyone. Pick a destination like South Africa, Zambia or Kenya and you’ll be onto a winner.

Mountain biking with a guide, Loisaba, Kenya

Mountain biking with a guide, Loisaba, Kenya

Mix it up

Combine traditional safari with the likes of Livingstone where you’ll find plenty of adrenaline fuelled activities, or Cape Town for fab shopping, bars and restaurants. With a bit of expert planning your African family holiday will provide your teenagers with all the action and adventure they need.

A helicopter flight is an exhilarating way to experience the Victoria Falls. Stanley Safari Lodge

Add time on the beach

Recharge your batteries on the beach.  Mauritius has some great family friendly hotels, Mozambique is a good choice for a ‘safari by the sea’ atmosphere, and you’ll find a wonderful collection beach lodges and hotels on the Kenyan coast.  Or try something a bit off the wall and head to 350 mile long Lake Malawi where sandy beaches, clear waters, PADI scuba courses, fishing, kite surfing, kayaking and star gazing are all on offer.

Children enjoying the beach at Kinondo Kwetu on the Kenyan coast

Make room for plenty of downtime

Dragging teenagers out of bed at dawn day after day isn’t going to be fun for anyone. Although a safari holiday is likely to see them more eager to get up than a school morning, if they want to sleep in one day, let them.

Brunch with the elephants, Davison’s Camp, Hwange, Zimbabwe

Consider booking a private vehicle

Many of the safari camps we recommend to families offer private vehicles for free or at a reduced rate. As it is the iconic African species that are likely to grab teenagers’ attention, having your own car avoids the conflict that could arise from sharing with keen birders!

Family watching at Cheetah at Little Vumbura, Okavango Delta, Botswana

Think about booking a private vehicle. Teenagers won’t always mix easily with other guests. Cheetah at Little Vumbura, Okavango Delta, Botswana

Find out beforehand where they can plug in

Though parents might want to get away from it all, cutting teenage social media communication is akin to disappearing off of the planet. Updating the outside world with news of their African exploits now and again will work wonders. Some may even surprise themselves and become so immersed in the wonders of Africa that they give the digital stuff a break!

Children birdwatching at Robin Pope's House, South Luangwa, Zambia

Children and parents bird watching together at Robin’s House, South Luangwa, Zambia

Try something different

Though walking isn’t exactly a beloved teenage pursuit, it’ll take on a different perspective in the company of camels. Mainly there for the luggage there’s no problem hopping aboard for a quick ride now and then. Also, following lion and elephant on foot will get everyone’s heart racing.

Our family visitors just love walking with, and learning from, our wonderful team of Samburu guides. Creeping up on giraffe with the camels always raises a laugh.

Kerry Glen, owner of Karisia Safaris

Hitching a lift at Karisia Walking Safaris

If you’re feeling really adventurous how about a private family trip up Mount Kilimanjaro?

Take a private safari house

With your own private accommodation, guide and vehicle you can do exactly what you want, when you want – so no worrying about fitting your family in with others’ plans. Some of the very best private safari houses are found in Zambia’s South Luangwa and Lower Zambezi national parks, and in the Masai Mara in Kenya.

I loved looking after families at Luangwa, it was perfect for all generations and the delight on everyone’s faces, no matter what age, at the antics of the resident wildlife was wonderful.  With everything tailored specifically to the family staying, we could ensure that everybody did what they wanted.

Aardvark Safaris’ Lucinda Rome, who managed Luangwa Safari House for many years.

Family time relaxing by the pool, Luangwa House, South Luangwa, Zambia

Family time relaxing by the pool, Luangwa Safari House, South Luangwa, Zambia

The best time of year to travel

Africa is a truly vast continent with many different altitudes and seasons. This means that the weather varies enormously. Planning a family safari with sunshine and great wildlife is possible all the year round.

The two most popular times for family safaris are Christmas and the summer holidays. Easter is also an excellent time to visit Africa and also benefits from ‘mid-season’ costs.  For those with two weeks off in October, the weather and wildlife are excellent pretty much anywhere.

Car ferry Zambian style – taking a wildlife drive from Luangwa Safari House

What next?
Our team of specialists has travelled widely throughout Africa and the Indian Ocean and can offer expert advice on planning every type of safari from family and beach holidays to riding and primate safaris. Do get in touch – chatting to people in person, 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. Whether 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.

6 responses to “Planning the Best Family Safari with Teens”

  1. Ian Johnson says:

    Hi i would like to enquire what you can offer in the way of a safari for my wife and I, plus a 7 year and 10 year old daughters, during the holiday i would like to see the Victoria Falls, so perhaps Zambia would be good, Green season might be good, Mozambique to see the magnificent grove of Baobab trees in the south are one thing i need to see at some time if not this trip

    • Richard Smith says:

      Thanks for getting in touch. Many of our team have travelled with their own children and we have all planned trips for families with kids of a similar age to yours. I’ll ask someone to ask some initial questions and then share some ideas with you by email.

  2. Kathryn Reeves says:

    Am thinking about a safari trip for 2 adults, and 2 boys aged 16 and 13 between 5th – 22nd July 2024. I’d really like to visit Vic Falls, maybe do some canoeing or white water rafting and some walking safari in addition to traditional safari. Looking at your website Zambia is perhaps a bit more cost effective than Botswana so would be keen to hear what options you would have.


    • Katy Duncan says:

      Dear Kathryn, Thank you for your enquiry, we would be delighted to help you plan your family holiday. I have passed on the information you have provided to one of our travel experts who will be in touch very soon. All the best, Katy

  3. Jennifer Fay says:

    Good afternoon,
    I’m just starting to think about a vacation for sometime in 2024 with my 12 year old son (who will be 13 when we travel). This would be a precursor trip to one I’d like to plan for our entire family of 6: 4 kids ages 4, 9, 12, & 14 (today). Africa is a big country with tons to see so I thought why not go with my son for a one on one adventure then go back with everyone for the Big 5 and a more family friendly trip of a lifetime before my oldest is off to college. Switch the itinerary to be fun but different and see as much as we can.
    For my one on one trip I could only reasonably be gone maximum of 8 days. Our family trip should be 2 weeks I would think. Would love to hear some itinerary ideas!!

    • Katy Duncan says:

      Good morning Jennifer, thank you so much for getting in touch. We would be delighted to help you plan your family holiday and one of our expert sales team will be in contact soon. All the best, Katy

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