We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.
We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Advice needed for safari goers with kiddies June/July 2010

California Hot...
Level Contributor
135 posts
2 reviews
Save Topic
Advice needed for safari goers with kiddies June/July 2010

Thank you for reading my lengthy post. I have looked on previous ones but did not find much advice on safari visits with small children. My husband and I are hoping to make a safari trip in June/July, 2010. Our children at the time will be 3, 8 and 10. Here are my questions:

1. Are we crazy to be thinking to go on a safari tour with such young kids (mobility and health wise)? We live in Asia and used to occasional mosquitoes and are well traveled with our kids.

2. If 'no' is the answer to my first question then please read on. Here are some things we want to see and do: We would like to see the wildebeest migration and also all kinds of animals (preferably moms and babies), predators in action, wildebeests crossing river and all that is shown in the show Planet Earth. If such trip is doable with young kids please advice us on:

When to go (is June/July a good time to do this?) where to go (Serengeti,Masai Mara or Ngorongoro) and

how long to stay there (in order to see the migration and other animals).

3. Is Arusha our best point of entry to the park? We want to try avoid 8 hours road trip from Kilimanjaro airport and possibly also avoid propeller planes.

4. We are usually very big on DIY- but was very disappointed doing that in Egypt. Is it better to go with a travel agent in this case? If so, can you recommend some good ones (not too pricey).

5. We would like to stay in a lodge inside the NP closer but in safe proximity to the animals (is this even a good idea?). Any such lodge or tent suitable and recommended? Basic facilities are fine as long as it is clean.

6. What kind of expenses would we be looking at per night stay?

Thank you so much in advance for reading my post. Any advice will be greatly appreciated.


Destination Expert
for Tanzania
Level Contributor
6,747 posts
Save Reply
1. Re: Advice needed for safari goers with kiddies June/July 2010

question 1 no you are not crazy many non Tanzanians live in Tanzania and especially Kenya with families and young kids and they go on holidays with them which in many cases means a safari.

2, I would go in late June early July and then concentrate on the Serenegti for the Migration, followed by Ngorongoro, Lake Manyara and Tarangire, not necessarily in that order

3.fly into KIA and then overnight in Arusha and then start the safari at tarangire and then head from their into the Serenegti via manyara keeping Ngorongoro till on the way back to break up the trip. but you can alos do it in reverse.

4. It is better to go with a tour operator ( local) but use travel agent if you want them to book tickets, insurance etc.

5.There are many lodge and camps out there and many who will advise you will have their favourites, as I do. buy a guide book, any except the lonely planet.

also do a search on this board for reviews for lodges at each of the parks you want to go to

6. The cost depends on the accomodation but will be anything from $ 250 pppn up to $ 500 or more

Level Contributor
14,478 posts
Save Reply
2. Re: Advice needed for safari goers with kiddies June/July 2010

#1 - The older children are the perfect age for safari. The younger one, will probably sleep alot. It's important to request a crib/small bed with mossie net for this one, and an even better idea to have/bring a car-seat.

#2 - to see young animals, best time is "calving" season of wildebeest in Feb, but it's too late to get space for then. Next best time, and there will be little ones... not all animals calve their young at the same time, but don't base your trip on this alone. June/July is when the herds are on their more west and north towards Kenya.

#3 - to avoid long drives, and not use planes, you have to break up the trip. Be aware though, except for one road, once in game parks the roads are terrible.

#4 - don't try to DIY, best to use an agent, whether local to where you are or an in-country/Tanzania outfitter.

#5 - there are lodges and permanent tented camps that can work, but for a large family you're better with lodges who have rooms for more people.

#6 - June/July is peak season, so prices match, but with children sharing with you, they're entitled to discounts.

Day 1 - Arriving at Kilimanjaro/JRO (KIA), you'll be met for transfer to Arusha and overnight

Day 2 - Drive (2.5/hrs) to Tarangire - o/n

Day 3 - Tarangire - o/n

Day 4 - Drive (3.hrs) to Ngorongoro;afternoon crater tour - o/n

Day 5 - Drive (3.5-4/hrs) to Central Serengeti - o/n

Days 6 & 7 - Central Serengeti* - o/n

*though herds can be in the West, there are no lodges here, rather tented camps which can be lovely, but probably can't accommodate 5/per tent. It's only a 2/hr game drive between Central/West.

Day 8 - Drive (4+/hrs) to Karatu - spend some relax time at a coffee plantation, visit school/orphanage, - o/n

Day 9 - Drive (1/hr) to Lk. Manyara - o/n

Day 10 - Drive (2/hrs) to Arusha; dayroom; transfer (1/hr) to JRO for homebound.

Drive-times are estimates only, depending always on road conditions. The above routing includes all the best stops along the Northern Circuit and avoids need to fly; you can always stay an extra day at Ngorongoro or Karatu so as to not be pushing too much.

Be sure to determine needs for inoculations and malaria meds for the children especially. And, coming from Asia it's possible you might all need Yellow Fever inoculations for entry to Tanzania.

With proper research, it's certainly doable... many do!

Isle of Man, United...
Level Contributor
36,854 posts
342 reviews
Save Reply
3. Re: Advice needed for safari goers with kiddies June/July 2010

I cannot but agree with the other two and their ideas. However do be advised that some places have a minimum age for children. This is for their safety.

Many animals are very protective of young of any species and can react to the presence of a small child. Then of course Baboons etc., can be a danger to children who are not so dissimilar in size and physique. Lions won't be a danger but a Leopard or Hyena might try its luck. Do be careful.

Accommodation wise Lodges are fine but you can sleep the little one with you in a crib in a large walk in tent so do consider them. Places like Kirurumu also have some large family tents.

There are Lodges and Camps inside National Parks that will be sutable and many more 'family orientated' places just outside.

To your specifics,

1. No. (but do note the above.)

2. Do not expect to see a river crossing or the Animal Planet events. If they happen they happen.

3. Arusha is not an entry to 'the Park'. You are simply at the start of a long journey to visit several parks. Two Parks, Tarangire and Manyara are well within 3 hours of Arusha on a good tar road. Ngorongoro is another hour on, but the road does deteriorate. There is no need whatsoever to be subjected to 8 hour drives.

4. Use a local Agent in Arusha. Plenty get good reviews on here. They can do lodges or Tented Camps or even basic supported Camping.

5.See above. Get yourself a copy of the "Bradt guide to Tanzania". New Edition due in October.

6. A car and driver will cost around $200 per day. Lodges to suit all budgets. Allow $100/200 pppn.

Finally you WILL need Yellow Fever Certs, or an exemption Certificate for Junior. Anti Malarials of course.

Appleton, Wisconsin
Level Contributor
965 posts
35 reviews
Save Reply
4. Re: Advice needed for safari goers with kiddies June/July 2010

FI don't know your kids but from a mom's stand point I'm going to say the 3 year old is going to be too young! Your days on safari will be spent almost entirely in the car. It may be possible to return to your lodge for lunch during the day, but as most lodges are outside of the park, it takes considerable time to go back and forth. On a private safari you can dictate when you want to go, but to get good viewing you will need to spend time driving to see migrating herds etc. There is a lot of time spent driving and searching for sightings.

As Mfuwe says, the Planet Earth moments happen by chance and you might be lucky enough to see it. We also found that good sightings often involved sitting and waiting quietly for things to happen, often up to an hour. Three year olds rarely have this kind of patience. Ideally, you will want to have children that can reliably follow instructions. A child's scream can disturb the animals and cause them to behave aggressively.

The drive from Arusha to the Serengeti can take eight hours. Others have advised you to break that up in smaller chunks. The road from Ngorongoro crater is very rough as are many of the roads inside the parks. You need to think of your younger child's tolerance for long car rides day after day.

We took our 10 year old boys in July and they really enjoyed safari, but the days were long even for them.

I would seriously consider waiting until you children are older. You don't want to spend all that money on safari to end up sitting back at your lodge with a child that doesn't want to be in a car anymore.

Isle of Man, United...
Level Contributor
36,854 posts
342 reviews
Save Reply
5. Re: Advice needed for safari goers with kiddies June/July 2010

There speaks a true Mom!

Level Contributor
14,478 posts
Save Reply
6. Re: Advice needed for safari goers with kiddies June/July 2010

That's why I mentioned that the 3/yr old should have his/her own child-seat and will probably fall asleep. Friends traveled with their 2/yr and 5/yr olds, had cribs/mossie net for the little one, regular bed for the 5/yr old. They were real troopers and didn't inhibit the adult safari in any way.

Besides, you can always pre-arrange for a babysitter so you can have quiet dinners by yourselves. Most guides are really great with children, especially your older ones. They always seems to find interesting and exciting things for them to do/see.

As a family on a private safari you can make your own schedule. There is no right or wrong on how many, how long your game drives. No need to be out on full-day game drives if you don't want. Nothing wrong with returning to lodge/camp for lunch, downtime for all, a swim for the kids (many lodges have pools, if a tad cold). If you want to skip a game drive you can... it's a private safari.

You may not even be interested in being out there all day... parents often have to accommodate their children's schedules regardless where they are - home or traveling. Visiting local schools/orphanage will be eye opening for the older children - they'll appreciate how fortunate they are.

Only you know your children, but do your research.

Level Contributor
238 posts
7 reviews
Save Reply
7. Re: Advice needed for safari goers with kiddies June/July 2010

Funnily enough i was just thinking about this, as I'd like to go back when i have kids.

I thought that going mid-year into the Serengeti would be too much for young ones as you're driving all the way out to the west/northern areas (unless you're flying, this is a long drive for kids).

Everyone is different, but i wouldnt take young kids on 5+ hour drives as they would probably get quite irritable.

I think what I would do is either forget the migration and settle on going to Arusha NP, Tarangire and Ngorongoro crater, or go in Feb so you're in the more accessible south east of the Serengeti.

Whereas they would be utterly thrilled at what they will see in the other parks which are situated somewhat closer together. Kids get excited going to a zoo, well ANYWHERE in Africa is going to be better than a zoo for them, they wont know or care if they are in the Serengeti or in Arusha.

Each to their own though, understandably, YOU want to see the Serengeti and migration so I'm sure you'll come to a compromise between what the kids will enjoy and what you also wish to see.

Level Contributor
1,550 posts
1,020 reviews
Save Reply
8. Re: Advice needed for safari goers with kiddies June/July 2010

I would leave the 3 year old at home or take along a nanny to watch the toddler. In my own experience it wasn't the "terrible twos" that got me, 3 was by far the worst year. Your already spending a fortune, why not bring a sitter along to help you out?

Saint Paul...
Destination Expert
for Tanzania, Serengeti National Park
Level Contributor
1,808 posts
5 reviews
Save Reply
9. Re: Advice needed for safari goers with kiddies June/July 2010

I have a 3-year child and we brought him to Tanzania when he was 16 months old. Overall, the trip went well, but the really difficult part was the long flights, especially when he was quite sick during the return flight.

In Tanzania, we hired a Tanzanian nanny to accompany us everywhere and that was a fabulous idea. She was wonderful (and nearly all Tanzanians are just wonderful with children) and we could not have done it without her. We could leave him with her at the hotel while we were off doing things. You might look into this idea.

One evening, he fell asleep in my arms just as we were about to have a nice dinner. I was trying to eat with one hand when the waiter took him out of my arms and the wait staff took turns holding him while he slept and we ate. Talk about service!

It seems to me like you should be able to get a room with two queen beds and keep the whole family in one room - as long as you can get a large enough crib for the 3 year old. Most accommodations in Tanzania don't seem to have them and so we brough a pack n play with us. It was ideal. But now that he's three, it would not be big enough... so would a larger one work? Or would you be able to put the little one in bed with the other two in a queen? Or with you? If you can all go in one room you'll save even more money. And I suspect you prefer being together.

Sopa and Serena would have rooms with 2 queen beds. In Karatu, think about Ngorongoro Farmhouse as they have very large rooms and should have plenty of room.

The nice thing about a 3-year old is they are pretty much free in lodges and in regards to park fees. Wait a year or two and you'll be paying for him/her as well.

You are interested in the Migration, but I would second someone's comment that you might just focus on the other parks (not Serengeti) and that will significantly reduce travel distances. It will still be a very enjoyable trip. Also to back up other statements. Car seat is a good idea. Ours sleeps well in a moving car, but with the bumpy roads sit near by so you can support his/her head when necessary. Car seat for protection while actually game-viewing in the parks is not necessary so let him/her out when possible to move around inside the car.

Destination Expert
for Tanzania
Level Contributor
6,747 posts
Save Reply
10. Re: Advice needed for safari goers with kiddies June/July 2010

another point I would make is that not all the good lodges are outside the parks, there are many inexpensive lodges right in the middle of the parks that might be suitable as well as the more middle range to luxury