Botswana offers some of the most unique safari opportunities in the world. Take in the beauty of the Okavango Delta, experience the isolation and vastness of the Makgadikgadi Pans or enjoy seeing the prolific wildlife of the Chobe National Park and the Kalahari Plains. What truly sets Botswana apart is the diversity and uniqueness of its safari offering, making this a great opportunity for families to spend time together and the experience can be life changing.
With family travel on the rise it is becoming increasingly important for children to be incorporated in the African travel experience. But the question on everyone’s lips is “how old is old enough?” The common feeling among parents who have done it is that kids being old enough to enjoy it is younger than you may think!
Owing to the nature of the environments there are strict rules and regulations when it comes to children at most of the camps and lodges in Botswana… and there is not one hard and fast blanket rule that applies to every establishment, each have their own restrictions! Generally most of the camps in the Okavango Delta will not allow children under the age of 7 and there is a rule that children under 16 are not permitted on walking safaris and children under 12 are not permitted on mokoros. This means that a water-based camp in the Delta is not advisable for families with kids as the activities they will be allowed to take part in will be limited to only boat excursions. Combination land and water camps that offer game drives as well as water activities will be preferable. Another common rule is that families with young children need to have a private game drive vehicle, and this is usually an additional cost. Very often where larger family groups book an entire camp on a private basis the rules regarding children can be slightly more flexible.
When it comes to accommodation, most of the family-friendly camps do have family tents allowing up to two children to share with two adults, but because the total number of tents available in each camp is on average five or six there is usually only one family tent per camp, making early booking essential. Where family tents are not available children are not permitted to sleep in a tent without an adult, therefore a family of four for example will need to be split into two tents, with one parent per tent.
Ker & Downey are recognised as being a great family option in the Okavango Delta, they allow children from the ages of 7 up and their camps do have family tents. Their Footsteps Camp offers a wonderful 4-day Young Explorers program for families. Emphasis is on learning how to track game – both on foot and in 4×4 safari vehicles. Children are taught how to make small animal traps and how to start a fire from nothing more than two sticks. The children learn how to: recognise different animal spoor; identify a range of birds; try their hand at poling a Mokoro (subject to water levels); drive a game drive vehicle; fish; and shoot an air rifle at tin cans. On completion of the safari children receive a Young Explorers certificate, t-shirt and cap.
Wilderness Safari’s Seba Camp is also known as a great family friendly safari option in the Okavango Delta, as are Delta Camp and Oddballs who do not place any age limitations on guests and activities as they believe parents know their children best! Machaba Camp also welcomes children of all ages, however families with children under six require a private game drive vehicle and children under twelve are not permitted on walks and mokoros.
Outside of the Okavango Delta area Chobe National Park is also a very popular Botswana safari destination, regularly sold in combination with Victoria Falls owing to their close proximately. Restrictions regarding children here are less strict than in the delta, although once again each lodge is different with their own set of rules!
Contact us to plan the ideal family safari to best suit you and your children!