Most of my family thought my husband and I were nuts when we said we wanted to take our 4 year old and 6 year old on safari. Given how much fun we have as adults acting like children oooing and ahhhing over the animals, enjoying petting and feeding sessions and in general, living outside for a few weeks, we thought this would be the best place to take our children for vacation.
We decided on Kenya which has a multitude of Wildlife preserves and a wide range of lodging to meet all budgets. Most importantly, with family travel, it does help to use the facilities that have more amenities as it will make your life easier when you return late and need a meal or have a minor emergency and need First Aid. Having these resources on property makes for a smoother trip and may help prevent you from missing out on an excursion or activity.
Take a look at the National Geographic Video below for a taste of what you can share with your children. Let them take a peak and see if they want to go!
The first hand experience of being on safari gives such raw, teachable moments for you to discuss evolution, the animal hierarchy and living in new environments. Our two week adventure started with the kids sleeping during most of the flight, even during the short flights once we landed in South Africa. I think this was the best way to start our trip with the kids well rested as well as the parents:-) since we too were able to catch some shut-eye during the long flight.
The 5 hour drive to our first lodging destination was a wonderful trip full of discussing the animals the kids wanted to see, what they were most excited about and many games of I Spy. We had our teaching moments to discuss the many species of wild game will see and also to start getting a sense of how the children will handle seeing more of the raw living experiences such as a “kill” by one of the wildcats or the sometimes violent fighting between the same species of rhinocerous or horned animals.
Initially, we thought this would be a good teaching experience and decided not to try to hide this while on the trip. These are some things you should keep in mind when determining what type of safari you engage. Some are more wildlife game reserves which some are more like a zoo so your seeing animals “in their habitat” but on a preserve, the animals are a bit more docile as I think they’ve given into accepting they live on limited territory, so for me, having been on so many in the bush, live safaris, this doesn’t seem like the true experience. But it does offer a gentler, tamer experience for younger children that maybe more appropriate.
We hope that you will give consideration to taking children on safari. These will be memorable moments that they will carry with them for the rest of their lives. I will post more on our family adventure to Kenya.
Must close for now!