Children are wild creatures at heart. That's why they bloom on safari with us. Tracking desert-adapted elephants in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve. Catching and releasing Africa's most prized game fish in the Okavango Delta. Star-gazing at Sossusvlei. Drumming with an African maestro. These tactile interactions with raw nature will enrich, expand and reward their sense of Wilderness. Their sense of self. And that all-important connection between the two.
You can trust us with your children. Why? Because we've been taking them into nature since 1983. Working with all that Wilderness has to offer, our immersive experiences for children aged 6-12 in Botswana, Namibia, Zambia, and Zimbabwe centre around adventure, suspense, learning, and wonder.
As parents, you can join in activities or leave your children in the capable hands of our Bush Buddies – staff trained and experienced to help your children make the most of the incredible opportunities they'll have on safari. Think nature walks to find unusual plants, making moulds of tracks and signs left by wild animals, or lessons on basket weaving and jewellery-making to connect them to the culture of the land.
These and a whole suite of other guided children's activities, games, and crafts, are on offer, giving parents time for a nature walk, or simply to make the most of their siesta.
When on safari with kids, it helps to pack right with purpose. Nature (aided by our guides) will do the rest. We already have the following in our camps – tissues, torch, hand sanitiser, mosquito repellent, moisturiser and bird book. Here are some other ideas that have worked for our own children on safari.
Enable their curiosity
A simple, kid-friendly camera helps children collect memories. Looking through a lens is a natural way to focus a child's attention and engage their senses. Even if they are not usually into photography at home, on safari, they may be.
These magnify their experience of the landscape and its wildlife. A distant blob on the horizon can signal the start of an elephant parade, a blur under a bush can soon catalyse into a thrilling hunt…
We have torches in our rooms, but it's fun for kids to have their own to take along throughout their journey. They make nighttime less scary for those who might be afraid and can be used to spy out bush babies, owls, or frogs around the camp in the evenings.
Books on animals:
Seeing the animals, birds, or reptiles in a book and searching for them creates excitement and anticipation. Some kids don't nap so they can read up and keep entertained during downtime in the camp.
Dress them for comfort
Early morning and evening game drives can be chilly. Zip-off pants help kids transition between cooler and hotter periods throughout the day.
Hats tend to blow off on boats or game drive vehicles, while caps stay put.
These help keep feet cool around camp and when going to the pool and protect feet from thorns or stings.
Goggles and at least two swimming costumes are good for safaris in the warmer months when kids want to spend lots of time in the pool.
Warm & cool clothes:
Make sure there is always a jersey available as the weather can change, even in summer. Also, avoid bright colors and white clothing while on safari. A limited laundry service is provided daily at most Wilderness properties. Still, the location and access to a plentiful water supply may restrict this offering, so pack enough for active kids, but not too much.
Bring your own brands of trusted kids’ medicines for allergies, tummy pains, or headaches. A chewable probiotic is also a good idea.
Keep them independent
They can take their own things with them on activity (they get a Kids Bag from us in most of our camps, but they may prefer their own).
Long-lasting snacks are important. While camps offer and create snacks, many younger kids have their favourite nibbles. Some might not be accessible in the places you are travelling.
A themed toy like an elephant, lion or zebra figure means kids can keep the adventure going on their own when there are lulls in excitement.
Favorite soft toy:
Parents get a thrill showing wildlife to their kids, and smaller kids may experience similar delight showing their 'best friend' all the animals. It can sometimes raise their level of patience or excitement.
Diary or notebook to doodle, draw and write:
Kids can keep lists, note questions, draw scenes, or collect treasures. A notebook becomes a keepsake, a confidant, and a creative outlet.
We don't recommend using these on safari, which is a time to disconnect. If you choose to bring a tablet with you, also pack earphones.
Other useful items to bring in your bag
Wet wipes (for sticky fingers, etc. on activity)
Suntan lotion – SPF 30 or higher recommended.
Whatever you pack, remember that kids are resilient, curious, enthusiastic, and easy to please for the most part. As far as travelling companions go, these are pretty good qualities. Having kids is not a reason to postpone a safari. In fact, it's just another reason to book one. And at the end of your trip, you may be surprised at how your children have grown.
As parents and travellers, you'll grow too as you experience nature through their eyes. And it won't just be the lions, elephants, and a big game your child recalls. It will be the smoky sweet taste of marshmallows roasted around the campfire. Or the noisy babble of nests full of sociable weavers. Or the smile of a Himba child they played within the Namib. Or the soft, firm feel of their hand in yours as you head back to camp, and stop to take in the colours of a sunset. Connected, wild, and free.
Let’s plan your next journey
When we say we’re there every step of the way, we mean it, literally. From planning the perfect circuit, to private inter-camp transfers on Wilderness Air, and easing you through Customs. We’re with you on the ground, at your side, 24-7, from start to finish. Ready to take the road less travelled? Contact our Travel Designers to plan an unforgettable journey.