A guide to planning your safari to the Okavango DeltaRead More
Is the Okavango Delta suitable for families? 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:
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 such as the Ker and Downey Camps and Kwara Camp.
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, including the special Young Explorers safari (pictured).
The answer will vary from camp to camp but in general the activities and age limits are as follows:
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.
Exploring the waterways in metal power boats. Usually all ages are permitted, this will match the camp min age limit to stay. Boating safaris offer the chance for youngster to get on the water, as most younger guests will not be permitted in the mokoros. Boating is done in deeper water, and sightings of elephant, hippo, crocs are common. The banks are often busy with animals coming and going to drink at sunset making this a very productive safari activity.
Generally the minimum age is 16 years old given the inherent risk involved. Some camps offer walking for all ages but this is not recommended. Most camps will still offer shorter bush walks close to camp for younger guests, these are a chance for children to learn from of the basic guide skills and learn more about the environment around them. These are fun and informative walks. Children will learn to identify tracks, spore, dung, bones and more. Other skills may include making bows and arrows, casting the spore and making string an obliging plant.
Mokoro excursions, in traditional dug out canoes, are one of the most well know activities of an Okavango safari. These take place in the shallow waters of the delta, each mokoro takes one person and one poler guide. These are less about big game (as with the boating safaris) and more about learning about the delta itself – the flora and fauna of the Okavango and the smaller creatures of this aquatic environment. This is also a chance for your poler guide to teach you about the local way of life for the river bushman.
Generally the minimum age is 12 years. Some camps will accept children younger, these rides will usually be in smaller and more open areas and the rides shorter.
Horse Riding Safaris
In the Okavango, 12 years is generally the age restriction. All riders must be experienced and confident, able to control their horse and respond to instructions in danger. In the Kalahari where the landscape is more open younger less experienced riders are accepted. Another option available to younger or less experienced riders is to stay in Maun for a night or so and enjoy rides in the reserves there, based at Royal Tree Lodge and riding with David Foot Safaris. This is perfect for families.
Hot Air Balloon Safaris
Hot Air Balloon safaris are relatively new to the Okavango, and only operate out of the NG12 concession in the northern Okavango. Access to this launch site is only possible from a handful of camps, most of which require a helicopter to reach the launch site in time for the sunrise take off. A very special experience, which only runs from 19 April- 31 August.
The minimum age for hot air ballooning in the Okavango is 7 years.
A highlight for many who visit the Okavango – a scenic helicopter flight is truly special. The Okavango is spectacular from above and flying low allows you to see many animals along the way. Flights can be done with or without the doors on.
This experience is open to all ages. If wishing to take the doors off then the child must be big enough to be strapped in to their own seat.
A wonderful activity only offered in the makgadikgadi salt pans south of the Okavango during the dry season. A hit with all ages, zooming across the lunar like salt pans is thrilling and a great chance from the traditional activities. Only some camps offer this activity (Planet Baobab, Camp Kalahari, San Camp, Jack’s Camp).
Open to all ages, younger children will ride with an adult.
A night under the stars on your own private stardeck is a very special experience, offered by just a handful of camps. While this is usually an experience for 2 it is possible for families to have a night out together – depending on the size of the group and the camp policy, usually the age limit will be the same age set to stay at the camp. The decks are raised with a simple bathroom below and a guide sleeps nearby in a simple tent, for added peace of mind. A fantastic experience!
A fantastic activity for all ages conducted in the Kalahari and salt pan areas. Bushman walks offer fascinating insight into the life of the traditional nomadic San peoples. Bushman guides will share their knowledge of how they survive in these harsh environments – how they track animals, find water, make their tools and jewellery.
Access to sightings will be at the discretion of the guide, based on the behaviour of both the child and the wildlife. Greater distances to animals may be adhered to, or certain sightings may be avoided, in order to ensure the safety of guests. In the case of boating activities, the availability of boats may restrict private use and require forward planning.
One of the best holidays we have been on, from the initial inquiry, the organisation, suggestions and safari its self. Worth every pound and would recommend Okavango Delta Explorations to anyone.
Simon Tunstall - travelled Nov 2019
If you’re anything like me, you may be overwhelmed when beginning your Safari planning. Look no further than Okavango Explorations. They were an enormous help, patiently answering my litany of questions and putting together an incredible itinerary within our parameters. She was always available by email and phone and spent the time to get to know our needs.
Drew Simon 2019
Okavango Delta Explorations was an excellent choice. They heard in long telefon calls my wishes and expectations very well and gave me perfect advice on tours and camps/lodges. They are very experienced experts of the region, who know exactly where to send you according to your expectations . The organzation was absolutly perfect. There is nothing to improve. We had a very special and wonderful time.
Kerstin Schonherr – travelled Nov 2019
The whole trip was perfect! Louise made recommendations to us that were all spot on perfect. The recommendations provided were detailed and really brought things to life for us so that we could make the best choices - the guidance we received was first rate. We thoroughly enjoyed the three places we visited and the whole experience was very smooth. Thank you so much! We will be back and would highly recommend.
Kathryn Dyer - travelled 2019
An absolutely superb trip, and this is entirely down to Okavango Delta Explorations.
Louise carefully listened to what we wanted to get from the trip, and despite my work schedule patiently kept me informed of all developments in our honeymoon and planned everything. I can't fault Louise or the company's approach to organising this trip. No question or request was too much and everything was planned perfectly. We will definitely be returning and using the company again.
Johnathan Manners -July 2019
I have received excellent recommendations for the two camps selected at Okavanko Delta and Moreni Reserve. Outstanding locations, camps and wildlife. Very professional and knowledgeable guides. Very professional and friendly staff attentive to specific needs of guests. Excellent food and organization for meals either at the camps or in the wild. Thank you.
Charles Morin 2019
We were looking for an authentic family safari, something special for our children to remember forever- without breaking the bank! They listened to what we were looking for and patiently worked with us to plan the perfect trip, attentive to every little detail and answering all our anxious questions! And we had the holiday of a lifetime! Their expert knowledge and passion for Botswana is clear. I would highly recommend them to anyone looking to visit Botswana. Thank you!!
Marie Gabrille Arnim
Great service from ODE, the team worked hard to deliver a holiday of a life time!!!
Specifically valued the efficiency, attention to detail and understanding when circumstances changed. Would definitely recommend Okavango Delta Explorations to anybody who wants a hassle free holiday organised by experts.
Carla Peek 2019
We can craft a tailor-made itinerary to match your family's particular interests and requirementsContact