This is a question we get asked often when parents are considering international holidays with their kids! Our own children, now aged six and three, have been holidaying in Africa their whole lives – after all, it’s been 10 years since we launched Encompass Africa and we’ve taken them there at least once a year since they were born. We’re heading off on our annual family expedition soon and, as usual, the kids can’t wait.
But, generally speaking, the answer to this important question can vary hugely, and it all depends on why you’re asking it:
Are you asking because you want to know if your children will ‘remember’ their African safari?
Psychologically speaking, according to research we have read over the years, memories of holidays are retained – on average – from the age of four. But knowing that some children can remember things from a much earlier age, we opted to take our children to Africa from day one (well, almost!). Kids that go to Africa at a very young age also tend to become aware of the fact that we really do live in “The Lucky Country” here in Australia, and realise that not everyone lives like they do ‘back home’.
Are you asking because you want to know if children are allowed to stay at the places you wish to go?
This is a question that definitely needs to be asked, because there is no hard-and-fast rule. Age limitations vary from property to property, based on their set-up, staffing and offerings. More than anything, these properties want to ensure your children remain safe while enjoying the time of their lives.
Are you asking because you want to ensure your kids can join in on all of the safari activities that interest you?
This is very important because if your children are really young, they won’t even be allowed on game vehicles in some places – unless you hire a private vehicle and guide at an additional cost. Gorilla and chimp trekking are age-restricted, while walking safaris and mokoro safaris (in a dugout canoe) are also out of the question for children under 16 (on average) due to safety restrictions. Some walks are available in areas that aren’t home to large predators. Plus there’s a number of cultural walks children can do with local San people, Himba and Maasai. They’re fun, educational and interactive, encouraging children to enjoy their time in the bush and even letting them meet children from other cultures while learning their traditions. So be sure to check with your specialist about any age restrictions relating to the activities you’re most looking forward to.
We’re obviously biased, but in our humble opinion any list of the best international holiday destinations for kids should include Africa. And it shouldn’t just be on the list – thanks to the huge personal rewards and big life lessons it offers, Africa should be right at the top!