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Read here the personal travel tips of our managing director and travel expert Dr. Julia Malchow. Whether alone, as a couple or with a child and cone – whether luxury, wellness or pure adrenaline – she has seen many places, hotels and lodges and travelled to different countries. She would like to share her experiences with you here.
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“Guide: Safari with children“
Africa as a destination with children sounds to many like an absolute no-go. I have often been asked how I dare to do this with my own sons – from friends, family and acquaintances, but also from readers, customers and clients. The solution is simple: preparation and planning.
Of course, a trip to Africa, for example a safari in Tanzania, carries certain dangers and difficulties: risk diseases such as malaria or yellow fever, proximity to wild predators in the national parks or simply the potential for boredom an extensive jeep safari. But all this can be avoided with the right planning and preparation. Here are my personal tips on how a safari with children will be a successful event:
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African mosquitoes can transmit many diseases, so the correct travel medical precaution must be clarified beforehand with the family doctor and pediatrician. Unfortunately, some African countries are particularly at risk of being infected with malaria. In order to avoid mosquito bites, it is necessary to use insect nets to be protected at night. But travel time and destination can also be an important factor, for example, there are fewer mosquitoes during the dry season. But even higher areas are mosquito-free. The Ngorongoro Crater and the Arusha N.P. in Tanzania are over 1600m and are therefore my hot tip for safari with children.
The selection of the lodge
Some safari operators and lodges in wildlife parks do not accept children under the age of 12, sometimes even 16. But don’t despair, there are enough family-friendly alternatives.
Such lodges and camps often have a child-friendly program on offer and are often a little more “closed”, i.e. wild animals are kept away from the immediate camp area. In itself, certain safety regulations must be observed – so sometimes you may not step in front of the bungalow or tent at night for example.
Long, unpleasant transfer trips in the jeep should be avoided – whether from lodge to lodge or at the beginning of a game drive. I therefore recommend choosing a lodge located in the national park and close to an airstrip. Then the safari starts right on the doorstep and instead of the jeep you can arrive by safari plane. The advantages of a lodge outside the park (Walking Safari, Dinner under the Stars or Nightdrives) are rather uninteresting for children anyway.
When choosing the room category, I recommend a cottage preferable to the tent, as solid walls give the little ones a feeling of security. They like to lie awake in the tent, listen to the surroundings and possibly get scared of the unknown noises.
I like lodges that can promise “Resident Wildlife“; this means that the animals are permanently present here – for example, the giraffes of
in Arusha National Park. There, the wilderness is within reach even without a lengthy jeep ride. Safari Light, so to speak, from the veranda.
Despite the exciting promises to be able to observe real lions, giraffes and elephants, a jeep safari for children quickly gets boring. Although Tanzania’s national parks have an incredible biodiversity, the animals like to hide once and demand a lot of patience from the excited travellers. But patience is exactly what many children don’t have. That’s why it’s all the more important to choose routes and travel time, and to keep the little ones happy.
To turn a normal safari into a participatory safari, it doesn’t require much magic. Experienced guides are of great advantage, because they can explain a lot to the children or teach them the 1×1 of the trace reading. Checklists or picture booksare also ideal, in which children can record their animal discoveries.
Why not just entrust the children with a camera or a video camera? In this way, they can create their own memories, are busy and feel more involved in the adventure. In addition, children often observe situations in a very different way than adults – the resulting images help to see the world through the eyes of their own child.
The dry season not only drives out the mosquitoes, it makes it difficult for many animals of the savannah to find water. One joy, the other suffering; because this means that sightings near water holes can be all the more productive. The ideal travel time is therefore December to March.
Take it easy
Probably the biggest difference to a classic “adult safari” is to spend 3-4 nights in one place instead of moving on every day. Children prefer slow travel to get used to the surroundings.
In general, safaris should be kept calm and overview, especially with toddlers in the open jeep. Children should never be left out of sight and/or get out of the car – because of their size, wild predators might consider them prey. The same applies, of course, to adults.
In order to enable the children to process the experience in a fair way, sufficient time should be planned for rest periods. A safari plan that is too full and the long quiet sitting in the jeep are exhausting, so shorter tours and lodges with Resident Wildlife are more suitable. A day off in the camp is also worthwhile if the animals graze in front of the balcony or children’s-friendly program, such as trace reading or handicrafts, is offered.
With the right preparation and planning, nothing stands in the way of the safari even with the whole family. This Itinerary through Tanzania has my team developed especially for family trips – maybe you got in the mood?