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Is an African safari suitable for a 5, 6 and a 7-yr old?

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Is an African safari suitable for a 5, 6 and a 7-yr old?

Old Oct 4th, 2011, 06:59 AM
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Is an African safari suitable for a 5, 6 and a 7-yr old?

Hi:

We are considering a trip to the Masai Mara in August 2012 and wanted to know if an African safari is recommended for our kids who will be 5, 6 and 7-yrs old by then? If not, what is the recommended minimum age where the kids don't get tired/bored by the long hours and the infrequent sightings.

Thanks,
D
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Old Oct 4th, 2011, 08:17 AM
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Simple answer, D. If they're really wild about wildlife (TV, books, a bit obsessive about wild creatures at home), then they will love it. If they're not, then the bumpy travel and patience required will irritate them. Adults can deal with all this, even if wildlife isn't instincitively their bag, but some children will moan, which I think is fair enough. I think it entirely depends on the kids' travel abilities, which you'll know about already and their enthusiaism for wild animals.

Good luck deciding!

Richard
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Old Oct 4th, 2011, 11:16 AM
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We lived in Eastern and Western Europe while our daughter was growing up. While she was a good traveler and enjoyed most of our experiences (OK, there was the occasional plaintive cry of "oh Mommy, not ANOTHER castle!") I have to say that as a college student and adult, she only remembers the trips we took from age 8 onward. So your children might enjoy it -- but if you're looking for an experience they'll remember for a lifetime, I might wait a bit.
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Old Oct 4th, 2011, 01:09 PM
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Consider South Africa more family friendly safer overall

for self guiding... South Africa Airways very good sales

usually through www.travelzoo.com adults only game drives but

Many of the lodges organize "mini-safaris" for kids very cool.

Family-friendly safaris abound in all corners of the country and South African hospitality towards kids is ...
travelforkids.com/Funtodo/South_Africa/south_africa.htm

Happy Travels!
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Old Oct 4th, 2011, 01:15 PM
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might consider the "Family Treasures"

package tour below Sabi Sands is awesome...

Sabi Sand Private Game Reserve offers luxury ... safari that will not only excite the kids but ... The Best Corner of Kruger Park. The Sabi Sands Private Game Reserve ...
sabi.krugerpark.co.za
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Old Oct 4th, 2011, 02:22 PM
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I'm with Richard on this. Children are different and what works for some, will not others. And while age 8 seems to be the perfect time to start a child on safari, when the understand and can follow rules/regulations, I've seen so many young (as yours) children on safari in Kenya and they're loving it.

While road travel can be long, bumpy and dusty, many choose to fly between locales (none longer than 1.5/hrs, most barely 1/hr). Being on a private safari, you can arrange activities - whether game drives, bush walks, bush meals, visiting Masai villages (local children), being attended to and learning from the Masai how they live, seems to be just what's needed to break up what could otherwise be taxing if just doing game drives. There are also nanny's available, if you want some of your own 'quiet time.'

Of course, you have to have 'children' things to bring with you during down-time, but there's also lots of 'kidz' stuff to do/see in Nairobi as baby elephants, feeding giraffe, water parks, etc. Remember... there are children living in Kenya who have to and are kept busy.

While South Africa has an overall better infrastructure, if it's Kenya you want in August... with proper planning and knowing your own children, I'd say 'go for it.'
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Old Oct 4th, 2011, 10:02 PM
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I'm an ecologist and live in Tanzania with two small children who come out into the bush a lot with me. Ours are aged 3 and 6. Both are very used to safaris and long, bumpy drives. So, let me reassure you first of all that (a) that properly primed children can have a great (and safe) time without causing problems for others, and (b) people here love children and many of the camp staff will have their own small children back home that they miss whilst working, so they'll be great with your son! But as said above, it depends on the child - our 3-year-old is much better on safari than the 6-year-old. That said, we find that after a week the kids are generally ready to have a break and just want to play with their toys for a bit.

You do need to plan it carefully, to ensure everyone ahs a good time - there are things to do in nairobi as mentioned, but also safaris don't have to be stuck in a car the whole time if someone imaginative is helping you plan.

In general our kids much prefer morning drives and evening drives with time at camp (or, better, a pool) in the heat of the day, rather than all day driving, especially if they're not allowed out of the car. Our kid's highlights on a safari are usually (in approximate order):

(1) Finding somewhere to swim - pool, river or potholes are all good if there's slim chance of crocs and hippos...
(2) Scrambling around kopjies and exploring relatively safe spots, especially if we've got a soda for them (my 3-year-old is the biggest fan of the sundowner in our family - especially if he can climb on the roof of my landrover to drink it!)
(3) Wildlife doing something fun/exciting (or babies) (they've seen rather a lot of wildlife and after a day or so are less interested in wildebeest and zebra again...)
(4) Short night drives (usually just coming back a little after dark meets this need, but they love a spotlight! We then sometimes tuck them into bed, post an ascari and head off much later for a proper drive...)
(5) Driving off-road (esp through tall vegetation!)
(6) Marshmallows on a camp fire

That sort of freedom to explore isn't always available in the obvious National Park options, so check out some of the concessions and see if you can find guides who know what to do with children to make it especially fun.

Enjoy!

http://safari-ecology.blogspot.com
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Old Oct 5th, 2011, 10:41 AM
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I agree that it is quite dependent on your child and your parenting skills. We met a young couple in French Polynesia who had taken a year off to travel 'round the world with their two young daughters. Unlike many children these girls were super travelers. At the age of 8 and 10 they were completely self sufficient, eager to learn and comfortable interacting with adults. Many children that age are quite the opposite. You must judge how your children will not only enjoy and remember the experience, but how they will impact others. On our safari, I would not have been pleased to share a vehicle with children so young. I adore little children, but they do not have the stamina or patiences to sit and quietly observe for long periods of time. I strongly suggest that you must have your own vehicle with the children so that you can trek according to their needs without intruding on others who have paid a great sum and waited many years for their own safari.
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Old Oct 5th, 2011, 12:04 PM
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Thank you very much for your replies.

Regards,
D
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Old Oct 5th, 2011, 12:10 PM
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FWIW, very well said TC

regards - tom
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Old Oct 5th, 2011, 12:33 PM
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It is enjoyable to see children thrilled by their new experiences and as enthusiastic travellers, but, all too often small children whine, express their impatience, talk unseemingly loud, or make demands/have needs that are inconsiderate to other travellers in the group. All too often, it is the presence of small children that dominates the scene, not infrequently in a negative way. For this reason, I always study carefully the minimum age that safari camps require for their clients. These children of 5, 6, and 7 seem to be to be too young to take on safari, from this standpoint. It may be a selfish, me-first attitude, but it is based on MANY years of travel. I agree with an earlier writer that a safari specificially targeting families would be the best choice, but, even so, the children seem a little young for such an adventure as Masai Mara. ZZ
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Old Oct 5th, 2011, 01:19 PM
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It comes down to proper planning. There are many small camps that do and actually show pricing from 2/yrs & up (those younger are actually free-of-charge)... so those the age of yours are not all that unusual.

Benefit of small camps, though some can be more expensive, the price for children are discounted, often by 50% or more (so too are flight costs); you'll certainly have your own vehicle and can set your own schedule.

These, and most other camps/lodges, will accommodate for children's meals - foods they prefer as: chips, burgers, morning cereals - eating earlier so to bed early under watchful eye of a nanny (pre-arranged for a small fee or none), the parents can enjoy time with other adults.
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Old Oct 6th, 2011, 06:01 AM
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We did a Tanzanian N Circuit lodge private safari when the kids were young like yours,
likes:
1) Large Private 4x4 for the whole trip- there was room inside to play and after a day or so were very comfortable with their new 'home'
2) We had non stop scenery in the parks, and outside the parks the Masai children waving were enough to keep boredom away even during the LONG drive from the crater to Serengeti.
3) Staff at the Lodges LOVED our kids, the TZ staff genuinely loved our kids
Dislikes:
1) While most people were understanding, we got a few looks from other guests.
2) There were few to zero other children around their age
3) One caught a bug, probably from one of the pools but maybe from not properly washing before eating
4) Never had a shortage of foods they would like

What I would change
-I would have stayed in tented camps. It wasnt until our later did we realize camps were as comfortable and that all the walking would have tired them out before bed

* Note: I think when they see the tasks children their age can accomplish in E Africa(like 8 yr olds herding cattle) its a positive maturing experience for them

I say go
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