"You're never too young to go game spotting!" Hoedspruit Things to Do Tip by CatherineReichardt

Hoedspruit Things to Do: 9 reviews and 13 photos

 
 

(work in progress)
This photo is a response to a common query on the Africa fora concerning whether young children can enjoy game spotting or safaris.

We are lucky enough to live in a country which offers a wealth of affordable and accessible game spotting opportunities, and our kids have accompanied us to game reserves since they were babies. Our experience - and that of our friends - is that if a kid is old enough to enjoy a zoo, then they'll appreciate wildlife in its natural habitat, although they are different experiences.

However, the decision whether to take small children to game parks/on safari is not quite as straightforward as just whether they'll be interested or not, so here are a few points to consider before you commit.

Firstly, if you are coming from overseas, the long flight (particularly if it is across multiple time zones) may be more disruptive and unsettling for your child than what you plan to do once you arrive. Only you know how your child is likely to react, but my advice would be to take your child on a kid-friendly trip (for example, a beach holiday) involving a similar travel time before you commit to a safari.

Secondly, many safari destinations (particularly those in upmarket private reserves such as Sabi Sands or in premium destinations such as the Okavango of Botswana or much of East Africa) pride themselves on their exclusivity. Couples looking for a romantic honeymoon or tourists who have saved for years for a safari experience are unlikely to take kindly to their experience being impinged on by fractious babies or hyperactive toddlers, so exercise caution in your choice of lodge/resort and make sure that the one you select is child friendly. Quite apart from not spoiling your own experience due to concern that your little darling might disturb the peace, you will also find that child friendly lodges tend to attract other families in a similar situation, which means that your children will probably have someone to play with.

Lastly, lodges tend to have a fairly rigid programme to accommodate game drives, walks and meals, which may not necessarily fit with your child's routine. Thus, it is far more sensible to choose the option that generations of Southern African families have opted for, and book self catering accommodation. This gives you the flexibility to cook what you want, when you want, as well as being a much more budget-friendly option. Virtually all South African game parks and nature reserves offer fully equipped self catering accommodation, so all you have to bring with you is food, drink and some basic equipment (for example, it's always wise to travel with towels, tea towels and washing up equipment unless you have confirmed in advance that the accommodation provides these).

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  • Updated Apr 17, 2012
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