Planning a holiday with children under 12 years old can be difficult. You need to find somewhere child-friendly with suitable room types that also offer age appropriate activities to keep the little ones entertained.
A family holiday specialist at Mahlatini will best be able to advise you and your family of your options but below is a breakdown on what to expect from holidays in Africa, the Indian Ocean and Arabia.
Despite what you may think a safari is not off limits for a family with young children, on the contrary, it can in fact be a very rewarding and exciting holiday. What could be more memorable than seeing the faces of your young ones as they see a lion for the first time or hearing their excited screams as they listen out for animal sounds outside their room? Re-connecting your children with nature is surely one of the best gifts a parent can provide.
There are plenty of camps and lodges around Africa that happily accept babies and children and provide for them specifically offering either child minding services, specialised children's programmes, kid's game drives or options for the family to have exclusive game drives (shared game drives with other guests are usually restricted to children over 12 years).
These family-friendly camps and lodges are often fenced ensuring added safety for younger children and offer a choice of accommodation options from family rooms to inter-leading rooms and even private houses or villas for your family's exclusive use (these include private vehicles, guides and chefs).
The African wilderness is the ultimate classroom for young and old and the most family-friendly camps and lodges offer specially tailored age-appropriate children's programmes carried out by specialist rangers, trackers, child minders and cooks. These are designed to encourage children to learn about and fully appreciate the animals and natural environment around them. There will be various fun-filled arts and crafts on offer, often geared towards acquiring particular traditional skills thus allowing them the opportunity to learn about the local culture and customs. More active activities include nature walks, fishing, canoeing, collecting bugs, pods and feathers and learning how to identify game and animal tracks.
It is possible, particularly in Tanzania and Kenya to hire a private vehicle and driver for the duration of a safari venturing through a variety of parks but you will need to bear in mind that the drives are long with little in the way of bathroom facilities en route. This option, however, does allow you the freedom to design your day around the children and their interests.
An option that is particularly popular for South African families with younger children is self-drive safaris in the national parks of South Africa. Here all you require is a hire car and a booking in one of the many, reasonably priced national parks accommodations on offer within the parks (these are often fenced). You can then drive yourselves around the parks on well maintained and easily navigable roads.
Your safari specialist will know all of the child-friendly accommodations in Africa and will be able to recommend the best one for you and your children.
The Indian Ocean island hotels and resorts as well as the hotels in the Arabian Peninsula (Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Oman) are fabulous for children of all ages.
It is rare to find hotels in these regions that don't fully accommodate families with a choice of appropriate room types (including villas for larger families and groups), outstanding Kid's Clubs (generally accepting children aged 3 years and over or babysitting options for younger kids) and a wide range of age-appropriate activities to keep little ones and teenagers thoroughly entertained. These activities range from on-site water sports like kite surfing, snorkelling, kayaking and glass-bottom boats to land-based activities such as tennis, mini-golf or volleyball. There are also an abundance of day trips on offer to families to a host of exciting locations including water play parks and dolphin watching boat trips etc.
If you are travelling with babies and toddlers you can expect the hotels to happily cater for your requirements with offerings of necessary extras such as cots, high chairs, nappy bins, strollers, bottle sterilizers and other equipment.
You can also expect sunny weather, safe swimming beaches, babysitting services, kids' menus and fabulous family offers during the low seasons.
South Africa is in our opinion the best country on the African continent to take younger children to. Besides the unbeatable safari lodges offering outstanding children's programmes (many of which are in malaria-free reserves), with a huge diversity of cultures and landscape it is easy to hold children's attention and self-drive is possible with first-world infrastructure and easy to navigate roads.
An abundance of adventure activities and family excursions will keep the most active family entertained are and the offering of family-friendly accommodation is vast from reasonably priced accommodation to high-end exclusive-use villas.
Also South Africa's low season (still very warm) happens to fall in the northern hemisphere's school holiday period meaning that fantastic special offers and low rates are on offer.
Chat to your Mahlatini family holiday specialist today to start planning a once-in-a-lifetime family holiday.
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