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HLester3 Jul 15th, 2006 08:14 PM

Who out there has been on Safari with young children? Any advice?
I have not had any luck finding trip reports for people who have gone on Safari with young children. I was wondering if anyone has been there done that and has some advice for me. We are traveling with our 5 year old boy/girl twins, myself, my husband and my father. We leave in Sept. and our itenary is as follows:
2 nights Cairo
2 nights Sabuk
3 nights Mnemba
1 night Stonestown
3 nights Shompole
3 nights Elephant Pepper Camp
1 night Giraffe Manor

I know that most people think that we are crazy for traveling with such small children and that their advice is that we shouldn't. The kids have been on numerous trips to Mexico, Carribean and Europe, so they are used to traveling, just never something like this.

Also if anyone has any recommendations on Malaria medicine. I have an appointment with the travel doctor Aug. 1st to discuss which one, and to schedule our shots. Since they are up to date on their vaccinations, it has been suggested that they only need the Yellow Fever.

My safari planner is pretty confident that we will be in our own vehicle for the game drives, since there will be 5 of us. I am thinking that we will then be able to just take shorter drives or that one of us can take turns staying back at camp with them if they really don't like to be on the drives. I can't believe that they wouldn't.

Thanks, Heather

Roccco Jul 15th, 2006 09:18 PM

I think your safari planner is doing a disservice to both your family and potential other guests by not making sure that you will have your own vehicle. With the quality of camps that you are visiting, I would think you would have your own vehicle, but it will not be a pleasant experience for either your family or other guests if you happen to be put with a couple other people who do not enjoy being around children, and frankly speaking, the vast majority of safarigoers would not be pleased to end up in a vehicle with a couple small children.

I would advise you to make sure that you are, in fact, in a private vehicle, and this would make a better experience for all involved.

TheMac Jul 16th, 2006 12:38 AM


We have two children, age 8 and 10 years, both have traveled extensively and have lived overseas nearly their entire lives. We live in Namibia currently and have been on numerous safaris. Our children are old enough now to understand about being quiet, especially when the animals are near, and are considerate of other travlers. My guess is that at age 5 your kids probably won't be ready for the morning and afternoon game drives everyday, so one person staying with them at camp may be just the ticket. Also, having your own vehicle will be much easier and convenient for you and for other safarigoers.

As far as meds, our daughter cannot take Mefloquine (Larium) as she has terrible nightmares, so we found Malarone (and they make it in Pediatric as well). She has no problem with it, but it can be quite expensive.

Have a great trip.

santharamhari Jul 16th, 2006 02:42 AM


Just wanted to say.......nice itinerary. Enjoy!!!

i saw pics of Shompole from Sandi's recent Kodak share gallery. Very nice.


tuskerdave Jul 16th, 2006 04:38 AM

hi,i recall at FOX CAMP in MIKUMI. there was a family with 2 small kids. there were all over the place. in the dining area-it was pretty bad. but you know kids-the more you tell them to stop-the more they do it.they did!
other visitors were getting really annoyed. also even during the night-they kept up people in the other tents. these tents are not close together and huge.
not sure what the parents ended up doing. i was there 3nts-i think they left before i did.
one other time while at MIKUMI-we finally found lions. there was another truck at about 12 o clock from mine truck on the other side of the lions.there was a young boy in there. after about 15mins-he started getting really restless being very difficult and whiney. i was getting upset my driver also.we were worried the lions would walk off. not even in my truck, we were getting ticked off.
so for what ever its worth-it not really the same kind of traveling this safari thing. as opposed to visiting the beaches ect.
not sure if this helps or not-good luck

sandi Jul 16th, 2006 04:51 AM

It is very possible that since you are a group of 4, you may have your own vehicle, but then you may not. And, in all likelihood, unless there are other young children at the stops you make, adults may be assigned to your vehicle. Believe me, someone is not going to be pleased.

However, if your children are not up for early morning game drives (6:30am) and one of the parents stays back at camp, the other parent will go out in a vehicle with other guests. The camps you will be visiting, rarely have more than 4 people in a vehicle for drives. Also, realize that afternoon game drives go out at 4pm, returning to camp at about 7 or 8pm... your children should nap midday so they can stay up for this.

At Shompole, night game drives go out at 10pm, which I'm sure is past their bedtime. Here, however, you can arrange for a babysitter for 10pm or, for that matter, any time you and your husband want to go on game drives or have private time. If you feel you may want babysitters or "listening service" advise your tour operator ahead of time, so someone is available to you.

If you wish a private vehicle and be able to schedule drives when it works, especially, for the children you should prearrange this, but know there is a fee associated with private vehicle that can run close to $400/day.

As to the inoculations and malaria meds, Yellow Fever inocs are no longer required for entry to Kenya or Tanzania from adult visitors from western countries. Whether this is a good idea for children, is required only a professional can advise. It's not likely, that on the safari you show YF will be an issue, but discuss with the people who know - a tropical disease specialist. And, as noted above - malaria meds for all while on this trip; check the dosage for children and if pediatric malarone is available, that's the one for them. Adults can take the regular dosage for themselves.

Generally, children aren't ready for safari until at minimum age 8, but they're your children, so this is your decision.

climbhighsleeplow Jul 16th, 2006 05:26 AM

At Mnemba, the bandas are very secluded and privacy is expected and respected.

The kids will have a nice large beach area to explore and the staff will take good care of them.

At sundown, a table and chairs are placed on the beach in front of each banda so you can watch the sunset in private. The groups are about 50-75 yards from each other.

After sunset, guests are encouraged to join the mgmt for predinner drinks in the lounge - this mingling is informal yet casually elegant. Guests show up barefeet in their best island wear (if you have some interesting clothes this is the time to wear it!). IMO it is an adult affair and small kids may find this part boring so you may want to arrange a sitter for an hour or so during the sundowner event. For example, the kids can watch DVDs in the library just a small distance away.

Kids have dinner about an hour before the adults. It you want to dine with your kids you should probably arrange a private dinner in front of your banda.

Dinners are normally served on the beach in a semi-circle where each group has their own table about 25 feet apart. It is a candlelit romantic event with muted conversations while listening to the ocean just a few feet away.

IMO Mnemba is more of an adult getaway destination but they have the facilities to keep the kids engaged and the staff is absolutely wonderful.

I think it will be one of the highlights of your splendid trip!

sundowner Jul 16th, 2006 06:38 AM

Heather - I just returned from a safari with kids by mine are older, 9 & 11 (I also have boy/girl twins but they are 24). Since we don't know your children it's hard to advise you about them. I will say this - if they fall asleep riding around on the game drives, just let them sleep. Don't worry about what they'll miss because in the long run it doesn't really matter. They will get to see plenty of game and after a few years they'll "remember" what you remember and talk about and what you have pictures of.

Malaria medicine - their dr prescribed Larium (over my objections). He said it was recommended for Namibia. I took the presc with me and ended up calling him back. I had done plenty of research about this and knew I wasn't going to a malaria region in Namibia. I asked if they could take Malarone for where we would be in South Africa. He put me on hold awhile and then said I could pick up a new presc for Malarone. So we were all happy. I did call around and price the Malarone and bought it from the cheapest place (half the price of what I had paid previously). I also had the dr prescribe all the pills to one child so I only had one to fill.

Shots - my kids didn't need any shots. They were up to date on everything recommended. (Yellow fever is not recommended.)

We took game boys, books, a camera for one child and a video camera for the other. I also had a camera and a tripod. The game boys never came out of the zip lock bags. They did read. During breaks in our room, I set my camera on the tripod and they used it like binoculars and looked at stuff from our deck (and took pictures also). That reminds me, we didn't take binoculars and ended up renting them from the camp for the 9 year old.

Another thing we have done in the past - the 9 year old likes to talk and it can drive people nuts. We developed a code word that we used when he was talking too much so he would know to stop (the kids picked okeechobee as the code).

Have a great trip!

Grcxx3 Jul 16th, 2006 07:58 AM

Here's the advice I have given several others on doing safaris with kids (copied/modified from a previous post). Hope it helps!

This is based on my experience (Kenya and Tanzania when our boys were 10 and 12) and that of several other families I know.

We had our own vehicle, so we didn't have to worry about other people....but I also have a "talker" and I LOVE the idea of a code word to clue him to stop!

1. Food - Meals in the lodges are great, but they doo't last long with kids. Bring LOTS of snacks and drinks (stock up whenever possible along the way). Besides, there were several times we got stuck/or were "pursuing" an elusive animal and were late arriving to the lodges for meals - and those snacks came in handy for all of us. At one point, I thought we would be spending New Year's Eve with the wildlife!

2. Entertainment - Be realistic! We live overseas and our kids have travelled the world - but they are still kids (even when they are teeneagers!). Wait a day or so, and then let them bring out the Gameboys, iPods, whatever. Some of the drives get a bit dull, and once you've seen 30 giraffes...number 31 isn't that exciting! (Note - might be good to invest in a car charger for electrical stuff.)

3. Viewing - In addition to their own binoculars, let them have their own cameras. Even if most of the photos don't turn out great - they may get one you miss!

4. Clothes - I don't know what the weather will be like (we were there at Christmas time), but zip-off pants/shorts really came in handy as there were noticable temperature changes during the day. The boys had sweatshirts that were used occasionally, but more often used as a pillow!

5. Culture Shock - The Masai Village near Olduvai Gorge was quite interesting, but my older son was a bit wary when the chief's oldest son took his hand and led him off into the group of grown men. Great photo!!!! HOWEVER, there was a family there from the US with 3 kids and they were having a real hard time with "culture shock." They walked around the village very quickly and then ran back to their car. We lived in Cairo at the time and I don't think anything would have shocked my boys - but these kids (and even the mom) were a bit spooked at the thought of going into a dung-brick hut!

6. Appreciation - Understand that this is the type of trip that they may enjoy now but not really "appreciate" until they are much older.

7. Preparation - Make sure everyone watches the Lion King and Born Free before going. Not completely relevant, but it gets you in the mood - kind of like watching the Sound of Music before going to Salzburg!

If I think of anything else - I'll add another post. Hope you have a great trip!

PS - let me know if you have any questions about Cairo.

HLester3 Jul 16th, 2006 09:51 AM

Oops. I am sorry, I thought that I had deleted my previous post and had not posted it. I was feeling a bit acrimonious when I wrote it, and then decided to delete it. I guess that was not successful. So it is a little bit of a surprise to see it posted after I thought it was gone.

Thank you for all of the great tips and advice especially on the lodges and 1st hand advice with kids :)

I have a couple of questions:

Yellow Fever: I really would rather not have them get this shot if not necessary. I have been looking at the CDC site and it is only required if coming from infected area. What about the travel we will be doing between Kenya and Tanzania. Will they require it because technically that is in an affected area? I would hate to not get it and then have a problem at the airport, since doesn't it have to be done 10 days prior to travel?

Cairo - (Grcxx3) Please let me know if I should be worried about hiring a guide. We will be staying at the Le Meridian Pyramids so we can get to the pyramids early in the morning, hopefully before the crowds. Is it a total misperception that it is walkable from here? For going into Cairo I was thinking of just hiring a driver from the hotel to take us into the grand bazar and museum. What are your thoughts on this? My main problem is getting from the airport at 2:30 a.m. in the morning to the hotel. Should I contact the hotel or is this where a guide would come in handy to arrange this. Our travel agent has offered to get us a guide, but I am not sure I really want one for $300 per day. Any advice on Cairo is also appreciated.

Malaria Pills - Thanks for all of the specific advice on this. I am really leaning towards Malarone for the kids. For the adults I am torn between Doxycycline and Malarone. Hopefully the doctor will be able to clear this up a little or if anyone has any opinion.

Mnemba: Just as with all of the Lodges I am planning on having the kids eat earlier in our own hut or out front, since it sit down dinners take what seems like forever to kids. I got a bee in my bonnet to stay at Mnemba after I read about it on the CC Africa page. I am imagining it to be better than even Grand Cayman where you can see through the water down to your toes. I found a very good article on the web of someone who took there 5 year old and they raved about how great of time they all had. Especially how good the staff is with the kids.

climbhighsleeplow Jul 16th, 2006 10:26 AM

Hi Heather
Thanks for the article about Mnemba! It is a very accurate account!

I have many favorites in East Africa but Mnemba has very special meaning for both Carol and I. She recently visited for the first time and we are still talking about our heart-shaped island in the sun!

I do remember when we arrived the staff were busy flattening a huge sandcastle they built for kids the day before!

Let's make a bet - I think it will be your favorite place too!

HLester3 Jul 16th, 2006 10:49 AM

climbhighsleeplow - I am so excited to go on this portion of our trip. I have had to change the itenaray of our trip a couple of times based on the availability there. I was so depressed at the thought of not going after getting my hopes up.

Is it possible to walk into the pine forest portion of the island? I have read about the small deer not much larger than cats that live on the island. Did you see any of these? Any other wildlife? What time of year did you go? Was the weather extremely warm, humid? Anything else you care to share about the island? I am all ears :)

climbhighsleeplow Jul 16th, 2006 11:37 AM

Hi Heather

Well, let's see!

The last 40 minutes of the road from Stone Town to Muyuni Beach (the boat launch) is pretty rough! See my map here:

You may have to wade about knee deep to the boat. The boat ride is fast and exciting but only about 10 minutes long!

The walk on the beach around the island is splendid at sunrise and sunset. The hermit crabs are fun to annoy and there are several other types of crabs that are fun to watch as they parade on the beach.

You can swim at both high and low tide and you don't need to wear shoes while swimming. On mainland Zanzibar urchins can be a problem.

The pine forest is like a maze with paths going everywhere. The birds (doves) are very noisy! We could see the little sunis on the beach so there is no need to walk though the forest unless you want shortcuts to the lounge!

The sunis look like dik-dik and they are tame. They come out in the late afternoon and walk on the beach between the cocktail tables! Some are white - albino looking!

At the bottom of this page is a blurry picture of a suni taken after too many sundowners ;)

For our next trip we will do serious shopping for interesting beach clothes to wear during the pre-dinner hour at the lounge. They put out some excellent finger food, then all the guests show up barefeet in different styles of stylish islandwear - we enjoyed this brief interaction with the other guests before we all went off to do our things again! Mnemba attracts a colorful mix of guests.

climbhighsleeplow Jul 16th, 2006 11:41 AM

Forgot to add, we can only afford off-season travel so this last trip was in June.

While the beach is hot the bandas are cool under the tree canopies. Nights were very pleasant (they closed the sides of our banda at night but you can open it).

For us it felt more humid on the Zanzibar east coast than Mnemba.

HLester3 Jul 16th, 2006 11:43 AM

Is this your website? I was so excited the other day when I found it, that I immediatly e-mailed it to my father and husband. They are not quite as excited as I am...
I loved all of the pictures, it is very hard to find good pictures of the huts, ect. I espcially appreciated the picture of the menu, since I was curious what kind of food they had. Thank you again for sharing.

Fabio Jul 16th, 2006 01:23 PM


Sorry that my reply was not of any help to you (you did not mention your destination) but we actually did not have any problem with malaria as it is dry season in Namibia and we just did nothing. But I understand that Kenya might be a little different, also for yellow fever !

What we did in Namibia was the polio vaccination, as there have been some cases in the beginning of june, after the country was declared polio-free for over 10 years, so the government decided to provide the inoculation for ALL people.
We were in Swakopmund on the first day of public vaccination. We just did the queue among locals at a pharmacy and all of us four got the anti-polio vaccination. We all 4 had already been vaccinated but we were told there were no side effects to do it twice ! It took 5 minutes for all of us !

We have been travelling all 5 continents since our daughter was 5 months old (Italy to Australia) and my wife was 3 months pregnant when we went Italy to New Zealand in 1994 ! So probably we are a bit more crazy than you !!.
You are right that most people think we are crazy, too but I think it is just crazy not travelling just because of children !! So, don't worry ! Just take the basic precautions, then pack your bags and go ! They will be proud of you when they are older as they will have experienced a lot of things around the world that the others of same age did not !

Yes, also our daughter used to sleep during the early morning drives and we found it relaxing for us !

have a nice trip !


HLester3 Jul 16th, 2006 01:47 PM

Fabio - Your reply on the other post did help me, especially the idea of the competition between the two kids with the animals. I was going to post my itenary on your other post, but got side tracked! I am glad you found me over here. I think that in all likelyhood mine to will fall asleep during the drives as well. My husband just left to take them to the waterpark and they were both asleep within 5 min. after they left the house. Thank you for the words of encouragment.

Grcxx3 Jul 16th, 2006 03:59 PM

Okay - let me see if I can offer some advice...

1. Airport arrival - I would definitely see if the hotel can arrange transportation for you (it shouldn't be a problem). DO NOT TAKE A TAXI. Since you have travelled alot - you shouldn't need anyone to "walk" you thru the process. You need to get Visas, but you can get them for about $15 each at the airport, right before passport control lines. Passport control and customs are pretty much like anywhere else. As you exit customs, there will be TONS of people waiting with various signs - which is where the hotel person would meet you.

2. Pyramids - I can't recall exactly where the Le Meridian is....but I don't suggest walking to the pyramids. It's going to be VERY, VERY hot in Sept and I think the walk is longer than you might think. Again, I would check with the hotel to see if they could arrange for a car and guide for the day (for FAR, FAR, FAR less than $300 a day!). If not, you could always take a taxi to the site and then there will be a TON of people offering their guide services once you get in. However, if the hotel can offer a guide as well - go for it!

3. Bazaar and museum - you should be able to hire a car from the hotel with no problem. Just be sure to agree on the pick up time and place beforehand and also on the TOTAL price or the price per hour. The driver will probably just wait for you at a pre-arranged spot, so it would probably be easier to pay by the hour. For reference, I used to pay about 30 Egytian Pounds (around $5 per hour) when I hired someone for several hours. He may try to get more out of you (I was considered a resident and didn't pay as much as tourists) - so I would suggest being agreeable to a little more - but not too much more.

4. General advice. There is a lot of info on travelling in Egypt on this forum and I don't want to repeat anything. I would suggest typing "Egypt" or "Cairo" into the Search box and then scrolling thru the responses. You will find info on what to wear, how to bargain, what to expect, etc. But please let me know if you have any other questions - I'll be glad to help out!

HLester3 Jul 16th, 2006 04:50 PM

Grcxx3 - Thank you, I think I will take your advice and have the hotel send a car to pick us up from the airport and to take us into Cairo. Paying someone by the hour does sound much cheaper.
Do you have any additional tips of where to go in our brief time there? I know we are hitting the most touristy places. Do you have any guess how much time I should alot for the bazzar or museum? Is it do able to do both of these in one day?
Thanks, Heather

sandi Jul 17th, 2006 04:23 AM

$300. WOW!

You can arrange for airport pickup thru your hotel. Likewise, the hotel can arrange a guide/driver for visit to the Pyramids. It will be hot, so go early and with the children, consider a break for lunch and maybe even some pool time for them. Late afternoon you can go to the Museum.

The Museum is very big and difficult to cover in a day, let along a few days or even weeks. But you can do a late afternoon and then maybe return the next morning.

The Bazaar is hectic, but most interesting a fun. We visited with our guide for about 2-hrs, but returned on our last day on our own. Just took a taxi from hotel... spent hours on hours, then hailed a taxi for return to hotel.

You shouldn't have to pay what your tour operator was quoting. The hotel can arrange a guide/driver for you for wherever or whenever you wish to go... and still have $$$ to spend on souvenirs.

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