As a parent, there are times when your dreams come true and you get to take the kids and go on a safari.
To ensure that there is a smooth flow of events, you will need to ensure that everything is in check. Overlooking anything could cause a disaster, so it is important to plan ahead.
You can read my guide to designing your own safari here or book a tour.
Here are the most important things to consider when on a safari:
Hire A 4WD Vehicle
If you have enough in your budget I’d suggest you could think about hiring a 4WD for the safari. With a private 4WD, your child or children can be seated comfortably as they stare at the wild animals in the park. It also allows you to move at your own pace, without worrying about the restless nature of other tourists in shared tour vehicles. Within the vehicle, you and your child/children can try different fun games as you wait to spot specific wild animals which unfortunately often take long to appear from the bushes. It would be difficult to keep your child active with such games if you chose not to hire a private 4WD.
You can choose to drive yourself, like I did, or use a driver. Most national parks will have a guide available to hire at the gate too.
If you are busy we have the perfect safari suggestion here, or take your time and enjoy a safari over several days.
This is probably one of the most important things that you should never fail to consider. Ensure that your child visits the toilet immediately before getting into that tour vehicle for the safari. Failing to do this is only likely to lead to a disaster. Try imagining what would happen to the child if a lion came running towards your tour car. It is obvious that the child would mess up his clothes. Safari is an adventure that is filled with fun and thrills. Therefore, as you think about the fun part of it, don’t fail to think of what would happen when thrills follow.
As a single parent, you are the only person who understands your child’s temperament. You have to manage this as you would like to reduce the possibility of incidents or accidents during the safari. There is often an age limit for children going on a safari since there are some who get too excited or scared and as a result, provoke the wild animals to attack. Try to ensure that the child remains calm throughout the tour. However, this does not mean that you deny them a chance to express their happiness when they spot the animals. I’ll never forget my son in his excitement (wearing his bright red t-shirt) chasing an elephant when he spotted it in Uganda. My gosh, the locals came out of the huts and in horror and we stood trying to beckon him to retract cautiously. You can see how close I was here, well he was way closer. I’d never do that again!
Also, safaris often start at 5:00 am, so get your child to be early the night before and have plenty of snacks in the car for them too.
Safety In The Vehicle
It is so hard to control a child who is over excited. Such a child can do anything crazy such as opening car doors and running out into the wild. This can be prevented by ensuring that the child lock system installed within the hired vehicle is operational and is activated all through the journey. We are assuming that you are the only parent in the vehicle and therefore you are the only person in charge of the child’s safety.
Make sure the windows stay up. Ensure bananas are out of site.
The open roof can often be great to safely stand and watch the animals, and the kids love that!
It would be very wise to sit your child down early before the safari and explain to him what to expect. This might help them to keep their cool even when an animal comes approaching. It would help them to know how to react and how to stay safe in scary situations. They also have to know that there are animals which will be hard to spot and as a result will require them to be very patient. At times they will need to keep still or quiet too. Giving up or getting bored is the last thing you will want from them.
Keep Your Child Entertained
Children need something that will keep them busy while they wait to see certain animals. Allowing them to bring along their tablets or phones will ensure that they are kept active throughout the safari. Such gadgets will also keep them buckled in their seats and avoid any drama. However, there is a balance between technology and games and living in the moment. It is sad when a herd of Zebras are right by your 4WD and your child is more engaged in their gaming console.
If you have a book that helps them to identify the animals they see or for them to make a checklist of all the animals they hope they will find works well. My son helped make this with one of the guides. It was great.
You would definitely never want to be separated from your child. Get accommodations that provide family tents for those who travel as a family. If there are none, just make sure that your child/ren sleep in a tent that is proximal to yours since you will have to keep your eyes on him as a single parent. The child’s safety is fully your responsibility and anything happening to him would be a guilt left on you. Lodges are another option, but quite often Tented Campsites are offered only within the National Parks. Many only have lodges outside the parks, so do check this.
Just in case a child feels sleepy, let them sleep. However, don’t rush waking them up when you spot a big animal since this might be a nightmare to your child. The child might have already been in their own world and might wake up screaming, thinking that they are in a horror movie!
A scarred child could definitely cause a wild animal to go wild.
If your has to be woken up from a sleep, consider the best way of doing that. All in all, don’t scare the child and don’t scare the animals. It could lead to a disaster.
Don’t Overlook Smaller Animals
Since you have a child/ren on board, ask the tour driver or guide to concentrate on both small and big animals. Most of them often know that tourists are looking for the big five and therefore fail to show them the smaller animals. However, showing a child the smaller animals would equally excite him/her and keep them awake throughout the safari.
Carry An Extra Camera
While you take your own photos, your child/ren will also need to capture their own experience. Allow them to have their own camera since they will be able to capture a number of photos to be posted in their diary. This will make the safari more exciting and will see them concentrate a little bit more since they will want to capture every drama spotted.
We also had a set of binoculars from one of the guides. These were well used too.
When the safari day is over, give the kids time to relax, especially in the late afternoon. We made bananas in foil to cook on the campfire, with chocolate stuffed and melted in the slit in the center. We toasted marshmallows, and we relaxed and had a great time.
Plan your safari so it is a lifetime memory that you and your precious family will remember forever.
Questions and Comments
- Are you planning a safari? If so, when and where are you going?
- Have you been on a safari before? Do you have any tips for our readers?
- Tell us in the comments below – we’d love to know.
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