1/10 Kwandwe Ecca Lodge, South Africa
South Africa’s Kwandwe Ecca Lodge is somewhat unusual among safari lodges, in that it was specially designed with children in mind. Families staying at the Ecca Lodge, set within the wildlife-packed Kwandwe Reserve, are assigned a private game drive vehicle and guide, the rooms are configured for families and there are lots of child-friendly activities, plus a pool. But best of all, there’s a children’s play centre, flexible dining and in-house babysitting.
2/10 Maji Moto Eco Camp, Kenya
Maji Moto Eco Camp is set 60km north of Kenya’s famed Maasai Mara National Reserve, on a large group ranch busy with zebra, giraffe, impala and others. But although wildlife features strongly in a stay here, the real highlight (especially for children) is learning about Maasai cultural life through warrior training, village visits, dances and bush-walks. Both children and parents will enjoy the ‘back to nature’ sensation of sleeping in large dome tents while listening to the night calls of the bush.
3/10 Kalahari Plains Camp, Botswana
Botswana’s red-tinged Kalahari desert safari is a good place for kids to enjoy the sensation of being in Africa. At Kalahari Plains, children can join the indigenous San Bushmen people on bush-walks, ‘hunting’ expeditions and village visits. Game drives in search of the area’s famed black-maned lions will get the excitement levels rising, too, and the camp pool also provides hours of fun.
4/10 Nhoma Camp, Namibia
A stay at the Nhoma Camp in the southeastern corner of Namibia is less about wildlife (though safaris, including night drives, are possible) and more about getting to know the San Bushmen. Set on a concession that allows the San to live a traditional lifestyle, this camp offers the chance to track animals with the Bushmen and get involved in village life – all rm favourites with children – though best for youngsters over the age of seven or so.
5/10 Rubondo Island, Tanzania
Tanzania’s Rubondo Island safari, at the southern end of Lake Victoria, Africa’s largest lake, offers a family-friendly respite from the dust and bumps of Serengeti game drives. This forested hideaway is renowned for its birdlife, and a stay here means exciting forest walks, boat trips and kayaking excursions. Chimps also live on the island, and children will enjoy searching for clues as to their whereabouts (although actual ape sightings are still rare).
6/10 Jock Safari Lodge, South Africa
Stay at the Jock Safari Lodge and discover Kruger National Park which is South Africa’s best known and best loved national park and the variety and quantity of wildlife here is truly astounding. At the Jock Safari Lodge in a private concession bordering Kruger, they welcome children with activity packs, junior ranger training, exciting night walks and chef training. They also have jigsaws, scrapbooks, board games, baby-sitting services and family dedicated accommodation.
7/10 Cottars 1920’s Safari Camp, Kenya
At the gorgeous Cottars 1920’s Safari Camp on an exclusive conservancy on the remote southeastern border of Kenya’s Masai Mara National Reserve, children can learn how to make and use a Maasai bow and arrow, light fires without matches and track large mammals – as well as various other things you probably don’t want a five year old boy learning how to do! The family tents here are especially impressive and the guides very thoughtful towards younger guests.
8/10 Saruni Samburu, Kenya
Melting into a giant rock buff in the dry and arid north of Kenya, Saruni Samburu which sits alone in a community conservancy just to the north of the Samburu National Reserve, might well be the most spectacular lodge in East Africa. Children’s activities include warrior training with the colourful Samburu people, bush walks and animal tracking. There’s also a great pool and, a first for East Africa, a water level hide next to a water hole that attracts many elephants (the hide is not suitable for younger children).
9/10 Ewangan Maasai Village Homestay, Kenya
The Ewangan Maasai Village Homestay close to the main entrance to Kenya’s Masai Mara national reserve, offers the rare chance to stay with an extended Maasai family in a mud and dung hut surrounded by goats and cows. Days can be spent milking the goats, walking with the cattle to the grazing grounds, helping prepare meals and making jewellery. Your children will also love the fact that there are lots of Maasai children here for them to play with and they can even attend classes at the two-room local primary school.
10/10 Samara Private Game Reserve, South Africa
At the Samara Private Game Reserve in the Karoo area of South Africa they take pleasing their younger guests very seriously indeed. In fact, this might be one of the best safari destinations in Africa for younger children. They offer up children’s game drives, bush-walks, rock painting ‘like a Bushman’, orienteering, storytelling, sleep-outs, insect collecting and, ahem, dung spitting competitions… There’s also a children’s play area and babysitting services.