Expanding your children's small world with an eye-opening trip to Africa can be life-changing. Just ask EJ co-founder, Elizabeth Gordon, who grew up living and traveling on this beautiful continent, and now spends her days helping other families do the same. Together with her co-founder and mom, Marcia, plus a slew of safari specialists who are experts in family travel, she has narrowed down the best and safest countries to visit with your little ones.
This classic go-to is perfect for first-time travelers to Africa, especially Americans. The U.S. dollar is consistently stronger than the Rand, which helps you get more for your money. The once-Dutch-colony also retains a distinctly European flavor, creating a unique fusion of cultures. If convenience, familiarity, and guaranteed English-speaking interactions is what your family wants and needs, South Africa is your best bet.
For local safaris, we love Sabi Sands, which has one of the world's highest concentrations of leopards. Across the country, we're also fans of malaria-free reserves, like Kwandwe and Madikwe. Though malaria is easily preventable anywhere we send our travelers, opting for malaria-free reserves means you can skip the pre-trip doctor’s visit, forget the hassle of daily pills, and still enjoy the same great bush experience.
These reserves offer thousands of acres of private wilderness areas across the Southern Kalahari desert, the Eastern Cape’s mountains, rivers, and plains, into the dramatic Waterberg Mountains and beyond. With ample exotic wildlife, including elephant, lion, rhino (to name just a few), the kiddos are sured to be wowed.
One of South Africa’s most attractive selling points is that you can break up your wild adventures with city tours. Unlike most other safari destinations, visitors to South Africa can have an incredible vacation without ever leaving the coastline. Cape Town, for instance, offers hiking, paddle-boarding as well as sand-boarding, along with Cape Peninsula tours, and many more excursions. For parents who are big on teachable-moments, you'll love the living history lessons surrounding you in both Cape Town and Johannesburg.
A staple in our portfolio, Kenya holds a special place in the hearts of our founders and team. What makes it an ideal vacation for families is its flexibility and variety. You won’t get the city-slicker options of South Africa, but we’re over the moon about Kenya’s private conservancy options, which can take the conventional bush experience and personalize it to your family’s day-to-day needs.
Unlike national parks, conservancies and privately run camps and lodges don’t operate on strict guidelines or set itineraries. In other words, if the girls want to go horseback riding one morning while the boys sleep in, then the whole family can reunite over lunch and an afternoon hike. Or, say, you’d like a game drive, but only after grumpy pants takes their nap—your schedule, your rules.
With activities across many conservancies running the gamut—including walking and driving safaris, horseback riding, visiting local villages, enjoying scenic helicopter flights or bush picnics, and more—there’s something for everyone, even the pickiest among you. Read here for more reasons why it's worth visiting Kenya’s private conservancies.
What About the Rest of Africa?
Honestly, your perfect experience is often less about the right country, and more about the right camp. For example, the incredibly warm hospitality showcased at owner-run Tafika Camp in Zambia makes all travelers, big and small, truly feel like family and friends rather than transient guests. It's a great choice for more remote family safaris for ages 10 and up. We also really appreciate how Zimbabwe’s Somalisa Acacia has no age restrictions, and offers tailored nature walks around camp with dedicated child specialist guides.
Another favorite is Botswana's Okavango Delta, where Footsteps Camp is part of a unique Young Explorers program, designed for families with kids. The emphasis is on learning how to track game both on foot and in 4x4 safari vehicles. Children learn how to make small animal traps, start a fire with two sticks, recognize different animal spoor, identify a range of birds, and much more.
Bottom line: Wherever your wild heart wants to wander, we can craft the ideal family trip for you.
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