Taking a child on safari may seem like a daunting task, but with our top 10 tips for travelling on a safari with a child you needn’t worry;
1. Self drive
Drive the safari yourself so you can take it at your own pace, its much easier on the children than a tour bus. That said, a night time safari can generally only be accessed by joining an organised tour and its well worth it to see the park com alive in a different light.
2.Make up a car bed for small children
To get the best out of your time at the park, you will be up early and back late. We borrowed the duvet and pillows from our lodge, laid down the back seats and made a ‘car bed’ in the back of our car to allow the children to be lifted into the car and get some much needed sleep whilst we set off.
3.Choose a lodge or accommodation near to the gate.
You don’t need to be within the perimeter to experience the wildlife, but you will see so much more if you are able to reach the gate first thing (around 6am).
4.Stock up before your arrival
Supplies are available, but limited and overpriced nearby the parks. Buy food (packed around ice) before you arrive for both Braiis in the evening and car-picnics, plenty of insect repellant and toilet rolls.
You will sometimes drive for what seems like hours without seeing large game, don’t let it work you up. enjoy the small stuff, the beautiful and colourful roller birds, tortoises, small mammals and the peace of getting off the beaten track.
6.Pay attention to the poo!
Animal poo on safari contains entire micro-communities of small bugs and even larger dung-beetles…don’t run it over if you can avoid it. In addition, the animal poo on the road can be a great indication of what animal you may find around the next corner, so get studying.
7.Only leave your car at authorised points
Lions. That is all.
8.Understand that sometimes it can be boring for children (and adults)
Have realistic expectations of your children and the amount of time they will put up with being in the car, simply looking for animals. To you as an adult the anticipation of what will be around the next corner will fill you with excitement, children tend to be excited to see the first Giraffe, the first lion and the first rhino…by the time you get to rhino number 4 or 5 (if you are lucky enough) they have a tendency to be…dare I say it, bored. A safari involves a lot of waiting, patience and sitting around. Make the ‘inbetween’ parts an experience in itself, we laid the back car seats flat and purchased an activity book from the parks gift shop that included an animal check list, and took it in turns to join them in the back to help complete it.
9. Allow downtime
Factor enough time into your itinerary to allow some downtime. The early starts and late finsihes, combined with the constant alertness from scanning for animals in the bush is exhausting. We recommend to allow at least a day relaxing at your lodge, especially if like ours, you can make use of a swimming pool.
10. Warm clothes
If you are going to try a night safari, take a jumper, even if it still seems ridiculously hot when you leave. Once the sun goes down it can get really cool, really quick – especially on the open sided vehicles.