10 Tips for Keeping Children Happy on a Game Drive

Are you worried about taking your small children on safari? Or wondering what they might get up to in the heart of the African bushveld?

It is a completely different experience seeing the African bush through the eyes of a child, in fact is an experience unparalleled by any other! A feeling that you will remember for the rest of your days!

Most parents are anxious about their kids getting bored, making a noise, or not sitting still in the game vehicle; but you will return with both a smile and tears in your eyes when you see your little one’s reaction to their first wild elephant or some big cats passing you by.

No matter how young, the kids feel the magic of the African bush and will react in ways you would never have been able to predict…

While it is a common misconception that a family safari should be kept on ice until the kids are older… we say, don’t wait! Reawaken your inner child as your junior ranger experiences new sights, sounds, sizes, and smells from the back of an open-air safari vehicle. Safaris are such amazing and magical experiences for children to have. They have so much energy, and they absolutely love being bundled up into the car in their pyjamas so that they can catch an early morning game drive. There is such excitement and anticipation involved in peering out the vehicle and spotting all the animals that are up bright and early to enjoy the fresh, cool morning air.

Here are 10 tips for taking kids on a safari to ease your mind… Remember to start off with a shorter game drive as it takes them a little longer to adjust.

If your toddler uses a car seat car, take it with and put it into the game vehicle.

Always have warm jackets, beanies and a blanket. The temperature drops quite a bit in the morning and towards the evening.

Lots of snacks! If you can pack the snacks in little containers that are easy to open and hold and make sure the wrapping will not make too much noise. Of course, it is a necessity to have biltong readily available and dried fruit and nuts always go down a treat.

Bottled water to keep them hydrated.

Mini binoculars – there is no better tool to satisfy a child’s curiosity than being able to get a better close-up view of the wildlife from the vehicle. It keeps them engaged on the drive and opens their eyes to see the wildlife in a whole new way (and feel like a professional ranger). It’s also so nice for them to have if Mum and Dad have too.

Ask the ranger if they can have a turn on the radio (even if it is just pretend) – they absolutely love being a part of the vibe or as we say in South Africa… the gees!

Tell them stories of the bush – tell them how the elephant got his long trunk or how giraffes got their long necks. The Just So Stories are great for this.

Teach them the little things about the bush – about the insects, birds, and plants. You will be surprised by how much they remember, and how amazed they are by something as small as a dung beetle or a mopane worm.

Show them spoor and show them how to work out which way a lion/elephant is walking. They pick this up quickly and will be able to spot tracks on their own.

Always make sure you keep them inside the vehicle and talk in their ‘game-drive voices’ so that they don’t disturb nature. A good tool to have on hand is a wildlife check-list to keep them busy. This one is always a crowd-pleaser as they get to be involved and tick off an animal every time they see one. The thrill of ticking them all off will keep them entertained too!

Whether it is sitting out on the veranda, drinking tea, and eating rusks while relaxing, or waking up early to a delicious mug of hot chocolate before going out on a sunrise game drive through the Kruger National Park, your kids will treasure these memories for the rest of their lives.

Iconic Africa looks forward to planning you and your family, the African Adventure of a lifetime! For 3 of our top-rated Family Lodges click here.

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