Safari with 18 month old and 7 year old(21 Posts)
We went to SA with a 18 month old and a 4 year old and went to a couple of Safari parks. We went for the self drive option so we could stop for breaks when we wanted to and our DDs didn't annoy any other people on the trip (learned through experience!!!) other than me and DH. The 18 month old was very excited by the Giraffs and my 4 year old was given her own binoculars and claimed to be the best spotter. We combined it with pool sessions in the afternoon. DD1 is now 10 and still talks about that holiday. We stayed in Santa Lucia (totally beautiful) in KwaZula Natal and drove up to Hluhluwe on a couple of different days. We also drove up, and stayed in Imfolozi which was great. Apart from the scary face to face meeting with a rhino when walking back from the lodge after dinner! We dream off having another such holiday. I would really urge you to go. SA is such a family friendly place. I know there is a lot of talk of violence, but we felt safe the whole time. But, then again, we didn't stay in Jo'Berg or Cape Town.
I 2nd the Pilanesburg. I am going over Easter and hiring a 4 x 4 from Kulula and doing the self drive safari. To go on an organised drive is about £70 per person for one drive, to hire a car is costing 4 of us £170 for 3 days. With that we can go into and out of the park all day. We are not staying on the game reserve as it is particularly expensive but staying not far so we can drive everyday. I have stayed on the reserve before at Kwa Maritane and would recommend it if you wish to experience small animals joining you on your patio while you have breakfast!
Agree with pp re Kruger - we saw loads. Just need to head out early and off the beaten track. So exciting when you just happen across rhino or elephants!
And agree w Rilla, Kruger safaris ok for 6+ yr olds
I disagree, i think if u go out early enough/go off "main" roads, Kruger self-drive wd be perfect - you'd be v unlucky not to see decent wildlife.
Clearly it varies as in my experience children over 6 can go in safari vehicles, & over 12 can go on safari walks. OP I personally would go if you want to, as I said we went with a DC of a similar age. It was then or never for us. We didn't have our own vehicle (we arrived by local bus) so DC just stayed at the camp. They didn't mind. Was dull for the adult waiting with them but worth it in our opinion.
I've had great safari in Zambia & self driving in Etosha, pre kids. Namibia might be a good option for you.
Ime they don't let young kids on safari vehicles. I think it's below 12. And when we did self drive through Kruger we didn't spot anything. However on the organized game drives we saw loads as the guides spoke to each other on radio and have tip offs! Was an amazing experience but not something worth doing with young kids I think.
Childcare at the lodge is a great idea. Unfortunately my family is in North America and dh's is in Europe. Since we are already in Africa it wouldn't work to have gp's babysit.
The flights aren't that bad, 3-4 hours to Kenya or Tanzania or 8 to SA. We fly regularly ( admittedly it has been a long time since our seven year old was a toddler)
In my experience trying to do anything with an 18-month-old is challenging! Long flights, especially and a safari? What exactly do you plan to do with with him/her while you're on game drives for hours on end???? Mad idea IMO.
I understand the rest of you wanting to do this, but I would either find a company where childcare is included, so you can leave the toddler somewhere safe and fun while you're on your safari, or leave him/her with grandma and grandpa at home.
We went to Swaziland when de was about 16m - she wasn't allowed out of the camp on game drives, only allowed if we self drove.. Did lots of one of us waiting behind with her, which can be quite boring. But it was the. Or never so glad we went.
Go to the Pilanesberg Game Reserve in SA (near Sun City).
Its a self drive, malaria free and not nearly as vast as the Kruger Park .... and because of its smaller size you usually see loads of animals.
There is a resaurant over looking the salt blocks, so you always see animals. There are also picnic and toilet areas, where you can get out and stretch your legs. They have hides as well, where you can get out and watch the animals at the watering holes (although children will have to keep the noise down or they will scare the animals off).
You could be done there in 3 days and then head to Cape Town for some beach time.... getting the best of all that SA has to offer.
My only word of warning about the self drive is that the driver of the car you take needs to be confident, calm and sensible (think encounters with elephants on the roads) and you must never get out of the car unless in a designated area.
Also you dont see too much in the hottest part of the day so it is best to get going really early in the morning.
We went with this company who have some tips on family hold www.expertafrica.com/family-holidays/africa
Most 'proper' safaris in SA are in an open top vehicle and won't let you take small kids for safety reasons. Some will offer to look after them for you for those couple of hours, so depends how good yours is with strangers. We compromised and went to a private estate where they had elephants, giraffes and other animals, but not all the big five, plus you got to ride the elephants: http://www.addoelephantbacksafaris.co.za/ They we very accommodating with our baby and we had a brilliant time. Not cheap though.
Look into Namibia. Amazing country, Etosha Nat Park is incredible safari. Sparse population mean less chaotic than Kenya etc. Malaria free for much of the year (again down to having so few people around). V nice friendly camps. I hated Kenya and was blown away by Namibia. I'd go with kids.
Thanks for the feedback. I know the 18 month old wont get much out of the trip, but the rest of would enjoy the safari. We also plan on spending some time at a beach, which would be fun for her.
We live in Egypt and will probably be leaving next year, and I feel like after we leave Africa, we will probably not come back, so it makes sense to go now.
The girls are very well travelled and used to power cuts, bad roads etc. the baby eats really well, 7 year old is much fussier.
I forgot about malaria. Hmmm, lots to think about.
You are wasting your money with an 18mnth old. Your game drives will be early morning and late evening. Depending on the season that could be v.early morning but you go on the game drives in heat/rain/dust. They won't remember anything or know what they are seeing and safaris can be expensive. Depending where you go the food choice might be limited. Some places don't have mains electricity. South Africa Garden route is malaria free Better to go somewhere near home and play on a beach.
I wouldn't go to Kenya with lo's as there are innoculations and malaria medication required in many areas. Roads are very unmade and transfer times long. If you have the resources to fly in/out of the reserves that might be a better option or take a shorter trip from a beach resort.
We went on safari pre-kids and most places have a minimum age limit, normally about 12. Safari isn't exciting for young kids as you drive around for ages without seeing anything, it's not like going to the Safari Park! That's not to say they wouldn't enjoy it but you might struggle to find somewhere that will take them. Kruger National Park in South Africa is self-drive though, so that might be an option.
I am not sure the 18 month old would really remember much about it tbh so if you want to go because you want to go then go for it. are your children good travellers/non picky eaters as this helps. personally with young children i would go with something well organised through a tour company not do it yourself. also check out jabs and mosquito situation first.
We are thinking about going on a safari next Xmas, but don't know where to go - maybe Kenya or South Africa.
What do you think about a safari with kids? Where would you recommend?
Join the discussion
Please login first.