My own childhood memories of going on safari determined the entire arc of my adult life. In some way, those delicious safari feelings, smells and sights are the treasures that I have been chasing, ever since I came home from the Kruger Park for the first time. It wasn’t until I had my own children that I discovered a way to really revisit those early thoughts and excitements again.
Taking your kids on safari is an incredible privilege. But if you don’t do it exactly right it will also do quite a good job of redefining pain. Fortunately you can avoid trial and error as my children have come along on many safaris and I am happy to share the very best of the best for guaranteed bliss here.
Whether you want to recreate the wonder of your own African encounters or will discover the wildest corners of Africa and all its marvels for the first time with your family… these are the Private Houses certain to satisfy everyone on an African Safari with Children.
Mkombe’s House Lamai, Northern Serengeti, Tanzania
When you dream of really living the safari lifestyle, in a barefoot, calling all the shots, do what you want when you want kind of way. then this is the perfect destination for your family. It is an exceptional combination of absolute privacy and incredible access to one of Africa’s most untouched natural wildernesses. A beautiful contemporary home with a plunge pool and swimming pool, magnificent views across the Northern Serengeti and private guide and in-house chefs. The house comfortably sleeps 4 adults and 6 children with no minimum age.
Getting there: Fly in from Arusha, Dar es Salaam to Kogatende airstrip or drive in from other northern Serengeti camps.
Ol Jogi, Laikipia, Kenya
Ol Jogi is a private ranch with an incredible density and diversity of wildlife. The private home comprises 58,000 acres of the Laikipia Plateau against a backdrop of sweeping views of Mount Kenya and the leitmotif of the entire operation is not to feel like a tourist while you are there. There are very few rules an incredible amount to see and do and children are more than 100% taken care of. It is literally a lifetime of memories in a very short amount of time. There are seven private homes offering accommodation for a total of 14 guests.
Getting there: Fly in from Nairobi on a private flight.
Sarara Camp, Northern Kenya
For the most authentic of cultural experiences you can’t do better than Sarara Camp in the remote Samburu lands of northern Kenya. Where the peaks of the Mathews Range jut into the blue expanse of sky and forests of cycads and juniper stud vast swathes of savanna a unique camp perches on a hill within the Namunyak Wildlife Conservancy. Sleep outs under the stars and unforgettable wilderness experiences all play an integral part in this safari. The family cottage offers views of the amphitheater of the Mathews Range and the open bathrooms keep the focus on nature.
Getting there: A scheduled flight from Nairobi to Nanyuki, Lewa Downs or Kalama Samburu followed by an up to two-hour road transfer or a short charter flight to Sarara.
Tangala House, Victoria Falls, Zambia
There is so much for everyone in the family to do around Victoria Falls and the beautiful Tangala House, 15 km upstream from the bustle of one of the seventh wonders of the world, is the perfect base for exploring the area. Ensuring exclusivity and the freedom to explore the Zambezi River with a private guide on your own schedule the home was designed with family in mind. It also comes equipped with a private chef, waiters, vehicle and boat and beautifully designed spaces to relax in.
Getting there: Flights into Livingstone Airport followed by a short, scenic road transfer.
Tswalu, Kalahari, South Africa
This lodge, inside South Africa’s largest private game reserve is all about the kids. Protecting over 119,000 hectares of incredible grasslands and mountains it aims to restore the Kalahari and conservation is an absolute priority. Private vehicles and dedicated field guides will introduce you and your children to research in action. You can sleep out under the diamond skies and kids can enjoy making their own bow and arrow, spoor identification and many more activities. Three family suites, all over 170 square meters, and each with two separate bedrooms with their own luxurious en-suite bathrooms and outdoor shower.
Getting there: Scheduled services from Cape Town and Johannesburg International Airport, Self-drive by road.
Phinda Mountain Lodge, KwaZulu Natal, South Africa
Phinda Mountain Lodge is great at making kids feel special. It has some of the best views in the world and access to unique adventure safaris that will have everyone entertained 24/7. From day and night game drives, through scuba and ocean safaris and tracking black rhino on foot, the guides make full use of the forest and grassland habitats and Maputaland beach adventures. As the name implies it is poised on a mountain top and the family suites have inter-leading rooms. Careful planning ensure none of the rooms overlook each other.
Getting there: Scheduled flights from Cape Town or Johannesburg International Airport.
Grootbos Nature Reserve, Eastern Cape, South Africa
The activities in the Grootbos Nature Reserve area range from cage diving with sharks to whale watching and scenic flights. It is a continuous journey of discovery within an incredible floral and marine eco paradise. A Garden Lodge offers the perfect combination of African warmth and contemporary design with fine dining in the restaurant, lounges or bar. The two private villas come with a private chef, butler and nature guides. They are secluded havens of luxury where every need is met.
Getting there: A two-hour drive from Cape Town.
Cottars 1920’s, Masai Mara, Kenya
Being in the Mara without running into other people is incredibly special and rare. Cottar’s 1920’s Bush Villa offers exactly this experience. It is so remote you can even swim in the river on occasion and my kids adored this place. It is owned and managed by the oldest established and continuing safari family in Africa and so this really is the original spirit and essence of ‘safari’. Expect lots of wildlife, privacy and superb professional guiding within a luxurious environment. The eco villa can accommodate 12 guests in 5 en-suite bedrooms with dedicated guides.
Getting there: Fly in on scheduled charter flights from the International airport in Nairobi or the Kenyan camps.
Cape Grace Hotel, Cape Town, South Africa
Not technically a private space but the Cape Grace is unique in being a hotel that loves children. Her babysitters might be the best in all of Africa and you may rest assured that you can enjoy stepping out for dinner in Cape Town without a care in the world when your kids are in their care. The grand old dame of Cape Town hospitality, the Cape Grace is situated on a private quay between the bustling V&A Waterfront and the tranquil yacht marina and she will share secrets of Cape’s colorful past through all her antiques and art. There is no better base for your family to explore Cape Town from.
Getting there: Fly into Cape Town International.
Leora Rothschild is the Owner at Rothschild Safaris. Rothschild Safaris specializes in bespoke, luxury travel in Africa and select wildlife-based destinations around the world.