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Travelling to Africa with Children

by Lara Behrens
2nd August 2017 Family Safari
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We are often asked if Africa is a good option when travelling with children.

At Bench Africa we have sent a lot of families, including multi-generational families, to Africa and for good reason! Africa has a lot to offer in the way of extraordinary, memorable and educational experiences in an entirely unique setting. A safari is something that children will never forget! The closeness of the wildlife, the welcoming people met along the way, and the sheer beauty of the continent is what makes it so very special.

Is it right for you and your family? You decide! Here are some of our most frequently asked questions from parents hoping to travel to Africa with their children:

Q: What’s the Earliest Age I can Bring my Children on Safari?

A: Each camp has their own rules on their minimum age. Our recommendation is eight years old and above. By this age, kids can engage with the locals, and they will remember their first safari! Children eight and older tend to behave better out on game drives too, and this can make for a more relaxing experience for the parents and the other patrons.

Q: Do all Camps and Lodges Welcome Children?

A: No. But we can advise on the child friendly camps. Ask us about specific children safari programs. Children’s programs or kids clubs work a little differently in Africa than most places. In some countries or destinations the kid clubs work as a glorified daycare where kids are occupied with games, computer games or free time to run about. In Africa however the kids are involved in experiencing the local area and culture. This may involve animal tracking, bush skills, cooking classes or even making paper from elephant poo! Some lodges will also assign a guide or ranger to the children letting them have a unique experience that makes them feel like they are having their own special adventure. Game walks and mokoro (canoe) activities are limited to guests over the age of 16. Where there are no children's programs many camps have child minders to take over while the adults go out on activities and at meal times. This is usually at an additional cost.

Q: I Don't Like the Idea of Giving my Children Anti-Malarials. Where Can We Go to Avoid Having to do so?

A: South Africa is your best bet! There are a few game reserves that are perfectly suited for children. The Madikwe Reserve has some really wonderful and varied game viewing, as well as camps that cater very specifically to families. There is also the Limpopo Province and the Eastern Cape, with lovely wildlife areas like Kwandwe Private Game Reserve

Q: What is the Minimum Age for Gorilla Treks in Africa?

A: Gorilla trekking is a good option if you’re traveling with teens, as participants need to be 15 years old. Other great activities for teens include horseback safaris, visiting local schools, meeting the locals, and even just an every day safari. It’s a transformative experience for teenagers and it can inspire children to begin a career in conservation. We've heard this quite a bit actually!

Q: What Other Child Friendly Activities are Available in Africa?

A: Africa has some incredible beaches and a bush/beach combination works a treat! Zanzibar, in Tanzania is a good option. If you are travelling to South Africa with children then you should head up the Garden Route which is packed with activities for both kids and parents! Visit the ostriches in Oudtshoorn, see the penguins, hike up Table Mountain and visit Monkeyland... to name just a few!

Q: Are There any Specific Visa Requirements to be Considered when Travelling to Africa with Children?

A: For most countries there are no special requirements to consider when travelling to Africa with children but Botswana and South Africa are the exception...

TRAVELLING TO SOUTH AFRICA WITH CHILDREN

Effective from 1st June 2015, new regulations were implemented for travellers arriving with children up to the age of 18 years. Parents are required to produce an unabridged birth certificate for each child travelling, or a certified copy, to be presented at immigration with the passports. If only one parent is travelling, they must also carry consent from the second parent registered on the birth certificate in the form of an affidavit, authorising the child to travel, or a court order granting full parental responsibilities. In the case of children travelling with other relatives or family friends and no parent, an affidavit must be carried to confirm permission from the parents.

Any unaccompanied minor must produce to the immigration officer:

1. Proof of consent from one of or both his or her parents or legal guardian, as the case may be, in the form of a letter or affidavit for the child to travel into or depart from the Republic. In the case where one parent provides proof of consent, that parent must also provide a copy of a court order issued to him or her in terms of which he or she has been granted full parental responsibilities and rights in respect of the child.
2. A letter from the person who is to receive the child in the Republic, containing his or her residential address and contact details in the Republic where the child will be residing.
3. A copy of the identity document or valid passport and visa or permanent residence permit of the person who is to receive the child in the Republic.
4. The contact details of the parents or legal guardian of the child.
Please double check with your travel agent before departure from Australia as this could change at any time. You must also hold return or onward flight tickets.

TRAVELLING TO BOTSWANA WITH CHILDREN

Effective from the 1st October 2016 minors travelling through the country’s borders are required to produce the following:

  • Valid passports
  • Certified unabridged birth certificates for all minors below the age of 18
  • A letter of consent from the other parent should the minor be travelling with one parent

 

* Make sure that you issue all the required documents in your country of residence prior to travel. Please be aware that some countries may require more time to process these documents. So we advise these are applied for well in advance of the date of travel.

* The documents need to be valid for at least 6 months before travelling. Certificates & affidavits older than 6 months at the time of travel will not be valid.

These developments are aimed at managing the movement of children across the countries' borders and tackling human trafficking which is a global challenge.

 

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