Over the last couple of months I have been receiving a lot of messages from mums (and dads alike!) on tips on how to travel with your children on Safari. A lot of parents are afraid to take their kids on safari because of various reasons and I’m here to say, don’t be! It’s not any different to any other holiday that you would do with your kids. Travelling with my 1 year old and 3 year old has given me some experience and I’m here to pass on the holy grail of travelling with children on safari. Many parents ask me the dreaded malaria question. I personally have not given my children any malaria medication and neither have I taken it myself. If you are afraid of malaria it is best to take your children in the winter months when the risk of malaria is less.
#1 BE PREPARED
Prepare yourself mentally before you take your children on Safari. It is NOT a relaxing holiday and as a mum, you will bear the brunt of the majority of the tiredness. So take what you can to keep you sane, a multivitamin snacks and water are a must for you mum! Your kids will be tired and have body aches from the safari. Take something to massage them down and a little bit of panado if you need to give it to them. Magnesium bath salts are also a good idea, I like to use the Kiddy Calm bath salts, it helps the girls to relax after a long day and sleep better at night.
Routine will be out of the window. Prepare yourself to go with the flow and let your kids enjoy their safari. I promise you they will not die if they do not eat at exactly the time that you need them to. Going on safari is completely different to any other holiday that you will have ever been on, do not fret about keeping them in routine, just enjoy being out in the bush.
The key to taking your children on safari is to take EVERYTHING that your children will need as there is no where that you will be able to just pop out and get things for them. Remember that you will be in a very remote area and the closest town (either Hoedspruit or Hazyview) is out of the reserve and a good 2 hours away.
There is no doubt about it that your children will need constant entertainment, it is definitely a must to go prepared with toys, snacks and if you’re a parent that allows technology (iPads and phones) you will need to take them along as well as there will be no TV’s or computers for them to make use of. Zali and I aren’t parents who give our children technology, but we do allow them to get down and dirty in the sand so we take along toys that they can play in the sand with.
Snacks, snacks and more snacks for the little ones is the way to go. I try to limit my girls sugar intake as I have noticed that the sugar makes them very active and an active and jumpy child is not one you want on a safari vehicle. My go to snacks are Willards flings, Simba Fritos, Olli Oats bars, Bokomo rainbow puffs, fruit (provided by the lodge) Cerelac puffs for Zafeerah and Safari Dry fruit sticks and obviously the biltong! No safari is complete without Prime Cutz Biltong!
If the lodge has nanny services – most of the lodges we use do have nannies available for us – make use of it! If it means that our kids want to come on game drive and the lodge allows the nanny to come on drive with us, we take her with! It makes it so much easier for me to take photos and enjoy the drive as well.
#2 EDUCATE THE CHILDREN
It is vitally important that you educate your children before taking them on safari about the etiquettes of how to behave on the truck. We have to remember that this is not a zoo and your children will be encountering wild animals up close and it is important that they know not to tease the animals or jump around in their seats whilst at a sighting.
#3 WHAT TO PACK
I normally pack 3 outfits per day for the girls. Warm clothes for game drives as the open vehicle can get a bit cold, dresses or shorts and swimming costumes for in between drives. A good pair of takkkies is a must for the drives and also in case you decide to go on a bush walk. Sandals for in between drives as it can get very hot throughout the day. Blankets and wind-breakers (I have jackets from pick ‘n pay for the girls) are a must as well as beanies to cover those tiny ears. The bush is unpredictable all round and the weather can change very quickly and you don’t want your children to be cold on the truck.
As I mentioned above – toys and lots of snacks!
I take along a travel potty which makes stopping for toilet with Zaneerah all the easier. We take it with us on the truck as well and stop as we need to, we’re no longer afraid of letting her drink water on the truck!
#4 MAKE THE TRUCK COMFORTABLE FOR YOUR KIDS
Do what you can to make the truck comfortable for your kids. I always carry an extra set of clothes, nappies, water and snacks for the girls. I take along a ready meal for Zafeerah so that I can feed her on the truck if I need to. Zaneerah is quite ok with eating snacks and waiting for dinner. I personally like to use the Bumbles range for Zafeerah as it is SANHA approved and also easy to squeeze, I do not have to cart Tupperwares or teaspoons with. We put the car seats into the vehicle as it keeps our little ones safe and also its makes it easier for them if they want to sleep on the vehicle.
Taking your children on safari is an experience that will stay with them forever. They learn so much and the bush is always so unpredictable, you never know what to expect around the next corner. As South Africans we need to teach our children about wildlife, it is our heritage and we should be proud of it!