Taking Children Along

When a family considers going on a safari in Africa, the first couple of questions that normally arise when small children form part of the party are: Is it safe for them to go along, will they enjoy it, will other guests on the tour enjoy them, are there places they can play and where they can be left with professional sitters?  What will it cost?

Legal Requirements

The South African Ministry of Home Affairs has introduced regulations under the Immigration Act whereby from 1 October 2014 passengers travelling with children under the age of 18 years - arriving, transiting and /or departing from South Africa, will be required to produce an unabridged birth certificate indicating the biological parents of the minor. Additional documentation is required for children travelling with only one parent, or with adults who are not the biological parents. Full requirements are available from the South African High Commission/Embassy in your area. Airlines will be forced to refuse travel to families not in possession of these documents. These new regulations have been implemented to combat child trafficking. Should there be any changes to the implementation date, following ongoing representation to Government by the tourism sector, an update will be provided.

Safety

This is always a difficult question to answer as parents' aspirations and concerns are, rightfully, very biased. I always say: Ask the millions of kids running around and growing up in Africa. Obviously there are certain very valid dangers involved when one travels to any destination and if you have traveled with your kids before, you will probably have most to all the answers... and a few tips!!

Regarding safety in our vehicles, they are fitted with infant and toddler seats on request and our guides are trained to deal with and manage the tour accordingly. They will give the mother information on an ongoing basis regarding time spent in the vehicle between stops, feeding places, what to do at scenic stops, etc. The guide will also arrange a meeting with the parents before departure and acquire information on feeding times, etc. Safety outside the vehicle is pretty much the same as one would deal with safety anywhere in the world. The guide's input is extremely valuable and the parents should utilise the information and ask questions at any time during the tour.

Click here for a list of goodies you can hire when in South Africa so you do not have to bring it along with you. 

Health Safety

There are a few unique notable dangers when traveling in Africa and these are malaria, cholera and yellow fever. When small children under 5 years and /or pregnant mothers are in the party traveling, we suggest that  areas with a malaria risk be avoided if possible The far north-eastern corner of South Africa is a low to medium risk area and the further into central Africa the higher the risk. See the MEDICAL page on malaria for more details. Or travel to these areas when the risk decreases to extremely low during our winter months from June to September. This is also one of the best times for amazing wildlife sightings. Alternatively, South Africa is so large and diverse that you are able to avoid malaria risk areas and still see the African wildlife and the exceptional scenery. At your request we shall design your itinerary accordingly.

Yellow fever is currently not a threat in South Africa.

Cholera seldom occurs in South Africa and then only in small isolated rural areas, which do not affect anybody traveling with us as we are constantly aware of the risks and ensure that you will not be exposed to any such danger.

Costs

Most airlines charge full price for kids over two years, however, there are specials and family rates available at certain times, check with your agency or airline. South African hotels, like everywhere in the world, have a child policy, sometimes differing substantially from one another depending on the surrounding circumstances. They range from; all welcome at family and resort hotels to only children over 12 years allowed, or not at all, in the more exclusive hotels and lodges. There is a myriad of different rate structures, but the general rule of thumb is kids under 12 years pay half price and under 2 years are accommodated free of charge with some costs towards meals and supplying of infrastructure such as baby cots in the rooms. Our scheduled tours offer between 30% and 50% reduction on the adult price for kids under 12 years at the time of travel depending on the hotels used on the specific tour.  There are a few conditions such as the kid/s must share the room with both full paying adults and utilise the beds provided in the room. All extra-related services such as babysitters, etc are extra.

We offer family discounts for a family (or friends) of 6 and more traveling together. Please enquire about this at the time of booking. Certain conditions apply.

On Safari and on tour

Our experience is that children under 6 years only enjoy the wildlife for the first half hour or so and then boredom sets in. Let's face it, if you've seen one lion you have seen them all and forget about watching their mannerisms - lets move on to the next one! Certain private game reserves and safari operations do not allow children under a certain age, normally under12 years old. Then there are family orientated operations who welcome small children and have dedicated children programs for them - even child safaris!. On our scheduled overland tours we spend around 4 hours in the vehicle every day and small children can get very irritable if they are not used to such long journeys. In such cases we design/offer shorter tours or fly-in's to the accommodation where you spend a few days at a time. Older children really enjoy the bush and animals apart from the fact that it is a learning experience. When you enquire about your tour, tell us a little about your children and we shall design the tour that fits their tastes while you can relax as well and enjoy your tour.

Child Caring Services

Family hotels in South Africa mostly have great child care facilities and services with professional staff to enable you to enjoy your holiday as well. We have a few restaurant chains serving great South African food while also catering for children with play areas managed by trained staff

Remember, the more information you supply us at the time of your enquiry, the better equipped we shall be to design the perfect holiday for you!

For more questions please contact us at nic@southerncircle.com.

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