Africa is one of the most exotic places on the planet and many parents want to expose their children to this wondrous continent and broaden their world view. Where else in the world can your child potentially ride an elephant, see whales, feed an ostrich, go on safari, walk with penguins, learn to play an African drum, perform tribal dances, go snorkeling in tropical reefs teaming with fish, learn about life in the urban townships and how it contrasts with traditional life in the rural villages, swim with dolphins in the Indian Ocean, appreciate ancient rock paintings, or simply build sandcastles on the beach every single day for a week?
If you are traveling with very young children and pregnant women, it is best to avoid malarial areas, so South Africa is the ideal family destination as it is largely malaria-free. Other malaria-free destinations include southern Namibia and the Indian Ocean Islands. However, with older children it is possible to travel throughout Africa, provided you take anti-malaria precautions.
South Africa has to rank as one of the most child-friendly destinations in the world and one of the best choices for a family vacation. South Africa has all the key requirements for a great family holiday - excellent weather; a casual and healthy outdoor lifestyle; space to run and play; safe swimming beaches; accommodation with family suites to suit your budget; a variety of activities to suit children of all ages, from toddlers to teenagers; an excellent road infrastructure and first world health care facilities.
It is a country with a culture that values children and many hotels, resorts and game lodges offer excellent facilities for children. What’s more many hotels welcome children of all ages and usually offer reduced rates for children. Many offer inter-leading rooms, family suites, cots, feeding chairs at meal times, special children’s menus and children's play areas. Experienced and trained babysitters are available and many hotels and game lodges have specific kids programmes to keep your children happy. Baby seats and booster seats are available for hire from the car hire companies too. Baby supplies like baby food, milk and nappies/diapers are plentiful in supermarkets.
As far as family safaris are concerned, some private game reserves welcome children and have special children’s programmes to introduce them to wildlife and conservation. Child-friendly game lodges usually offer separate game drives for families and “ordinary” guests so that the children don’t disturb others. Babies and very small children are usually not allowed on game drives but babysitting services are provided.