Is the Okavango family friendly?

Absolutely! Historically this was not a family friendly destination but increasingly camps are specialising  to create excellent family safaris. We know the best camps, areas and activities suitable for families.

Here we set out the key factors to take into consideration when planning your family safari – the accommodation, age limits for the various activities and other factors such as the need to book private vehicles at some camps.

A safari is one of the most special holidays you could ever do with your family. And the Okavango one of the best safari destinations, so do the two make the perfect match? With the right choice of camps- Yes!

There are some restrictions for families, all depending on the ages of the children travelling. Generally babies and safaris are not a good combination for safety and comfort reasons. While some camps have no age limit at all we do not recommend travelling with babies for safety reasons and this would not be a relaxing holiday!

Most Okavango camps accept children from 6 or 7 years old, and a few accept younger children (more on this below). Most camps offer two bedroom family tents which are perfect for families, where these are not available families may have to split up so that each child is sharing with an adult. This rule generally applies to children under 16 years old.

The other thing to note are the restrictions on activities. Botswana offers some of the most diverse safari activities in Africa due to its extraordinarily varied landscapes. Game drives, walking, mokoro excursions and boating safaris. Horse ridings safaris are also offered. Balloon and helicopter safaris offer a different perceptive altogether. Away from the Okavango in the neighbouring Kalahari there are a whole  range of family friendly activities such as quad biking and bushman walks.

All these activities allow for an amazingly diverse and exciting safari – every day is different and fresh- ideal for children.

What are the age limits for these activities? The answer will vary from camp to camp but in general the activities and age limits are as follows:

  • Game Drives – Generally if the child is permitted to stay at the camp they can go on game drives. However most camps will require families with children under 12 years to book a private vehicle at an additional cost. (See more below). Those camps which accept all ages usually will not allow children under 3 on drives.
  • Boating safaris – All ages- this will match the camp min age limit to stay.
  • Walking Safaris – Generally the minimum age is 16 years old given the inherent risk involved. Most camps will still offer shorter bush walks close to camp for younger guests.
  • Mokoro excursions – Generally the minimum age is 12 years
  • Horse Riding Safaris – In the Okavango, 12 years is generally the age restriction. All riders must be experienced. In the Kalahari where the landscape is more open younger less experienced riders are accepted.
  • Hot Air Balloon Safaris – The minimum age is 7 years
  • Helicopter safaris – All ages (if wishing to take the doors off then the child must be big enough to be strapped in to their own seat.)
  • Quad Biking – All ages, younger children will ride with an adult
  • Sleep-outs– this will be the same age set to stay at the camp
  • Bushman Walks – all ages

A private vehicle usually has to be booked at an additional cost if families have children under 12 years old travelling. The exact age varies from camp to camp and the costs vary. Some charge a flat fee for the vehicle others charge by the extra seats booked out. E.g. if you are a family of 4 and booking a vehicle which usually takes 6 guests you only pay for the extra 2 seats. This policy ensures families and other guests interests can both be met. Some camps offer a complimentary private vehicle for all groups of 4 or more.

A private vehicle has the advantage of ensuring you have your own private guide who can focus entirely on your families interests and preferences- drives can be as long or short as you wish. A big advantage for younger children who may not enjoy the 4-5 hour morning drives. Rates vary, from $400-$700 per day. (Usually depending on the concession rules).

All these factors need to be taken into account when planning your family safari – along with all the usual questions as to when to travel, where to go and how long for! We can guide you on all this and more. Contact us to have a chat about the family safari you have in mind.

See also our suggestions for the best family friendly camps.

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