Hailed as the birthplace of humanity, Africa is an engaging patchwork of the modern and the traditional; while cities like Nairobi and Dar es Salaam bustle with commercial activity, many hunter-gatherer societies like the San people of Southern Africa and the Hadza people of the Serengeti region, maintain age-old customs and practices. Oh, and obviously the wildlife-spotting opportunities for families here are second to none.
In an ever-globalising world, giving your children a glimpse into the exciting and rapidly-developing Africa of today will shape their values and help them envision the societies of the future. On an Evaneos family tour, your entire journey will be facilitated by a carefully-selected team of local experts, who not only specialise in creating unforgettable child and adult-friendly trip itineraries, but who feel passionately about their country and are there to ensure your experience is as authentic as possible. Read on for our top picks of the best African destinations for families, as chosen by Evaneos' family travellers!
1. Madagascar: Follow that lemur!
If we had to pick a single creature that was emblematic of the weird and wonderful flora and fauna of this island, it would have to be the lemur. Start your discovery of these cuddly creatures at Analamazaotra Reserve, home to the Indris, the largest of all lemurs. Come nighttime, this part of the world thrums with activity. Scurrying mouse lemurs, croaking frogs in iridescent colours, and industrious little tenrecs — all waiting to meet you and your kids on a guided, nocturnal walking safari.
Drive along roughly-hewn roads lined with towering baobabs and in Isalo National Park, stop off for a break to swim in its crystal-clear pools or set off on a whale-watching excursion. In the nearby villages of the Tanala people, you can unwind after a long day of trekking with a dip in the thermal baths. Afterwards, join the villagers for a meal and learn about the local legends.
Take it from our local experts: along with meeting its furry residents, kids will love a family holiday to Madagascar thanks to its pristine beaches, like those in Nosy Iranja and Anakao, which provide the perfect leisure days in between demanding drives and treks.
Need more information or advice? Ask Linah, our local family specialist in Madagascar.
2. Morocco: Arabian splendour and magic
Morocco leaves you spellbound from the minute you land. With affordable flights from London that will get you to Marrakech in under four hours, it's one of the most ideal destinations to visit during the half-term holidays if you're a bit short for time. In Marrakech, you’ll find beautifully preserved history around every street corner. Be sure to see the Koutoubia Mosque, the Saadian Tombs, and the Bahia Palace while you're there.
Parents of children who easily get bored will be happy to hear that it's practically impossible to run out of things to do in Morocco. Families of all ages will enjoy running about the landscaped paths of Majorelle Garden, for example, taking in the variety of curios and knick-knacks on sale in the maze-like streets of the medina. After a few days in the busy city, escape into the cooler climes of the Atlas mountains and and on your way down, spend a night camping under a star-filled sky in the middle of the Saharan desert.
Take it from our local experts: kids will love a family holiday to Morocco thanks to its abundance of outdoor adventures like a camel ride in the Sahara desert and snorkelling or surfing in Taghazout and Essaouira.
Need more information or advice? Ask Brahim, our local family specialist in Morocco.
3. South Africa: The adventure capital of Africa
South Africa is the perfect destination for a balanced, fun-filled family adventure. Famed for being home to Africa's Big Five land mammals, this is also a paradise for older children who are into adrenaline activities. Get your thrills on skydiving in Cape Town, or zip-lining over the Koekedouw River. Alternatively, for a calmer trip, take the Garden Route trail along South Cape to see some the most astonishingly beautiful cliffs, beach towns, valleys, and gorges.
Visiting South Africa with your children is a good opportunity to teach them about the darker parts of recent human history, like the Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg or the Dutch prison on Robben Island. While Kruger National Park is undoubtedly the highlight for safari enthusiasts, don't miss out on the lesser-known areas of the country as well, which are well worth a visit. Parents, for a more adult-friendly activity, why not spend the afternoon in the Stellenbosch region outside Cape Town sampling some of the local wine?
Take it from our local experts: kids will love a family holiday to South Africa thanks to its neverending wildlife encounters, not just in its national parks or safari zones, but even in Cape Town where you can waddle along with African penguins at Boulders Beach!
Need more information or advice? Ask Yolandie, our local family specialist in South Africa.
4. Tanzania: From the wilds of the Serengeti to Zanzibar
Serengeti is a Maasai word, meaning endless plains. To get to this fabled land, drive first through the Ngorongoro Crater, the world’s largest intact caldera. As you crest the rim of the crater, look out for blue wildebeest, hippopotamuses, rare black rhinoceroses, and an errant lion or an African leopard. The Serengeti itself provides some of the best game viewing in Africa — in fact, the wildlife is so dense here that your kids will be able to spot animals from your campsite itself, in the heart of the national park.
Don't make the mistake of thinking that Tanzania is only about giant mammals, however. Your travels will bring you in close contact with many tribes of East Africa, and you’ll get the unique chance to stroll through markets and dine with the locals. Zanzibar, the famed spice island which was once the epicentre of trade in the Indian Ocean, is also the perfect spot for some relaxing downtime on the beach.
Take it from our local experts: kids will love a family holiday to Tanzania thanks to its unparalleled safari opportunities, including camping in the heart of the Serengeti, at close quarters with some of the world's most majestic land animals.
Need more information or advice? Ask Vera, our local family specialist in Tanzania.
5. Kenya: The classic African safari
The landscapes of Kenya are dominated by the Great Rift Valley, a patchwork of steep cliffs, rugged calderas, and soda lakes. It’s at these alkaline lakes that you can observe the most interesting of species: colonies of fuschia-pink flamingos, black rhinoceroses, and herds of giraffes. To the south of the country, you have the Masai Mara National Reserve, known to be the site of the annual great wildebeest migration as well as home to a flourishing population of lions, leopards, cheetahs, zebras and gazelles.
Be sure to sample some modern Kenyan delights over the course of your trip! In Nairobi, travel around in the flamboyantly decked-out Matutu buses, visit an elephant orphanage, and taste some world-famous coffee grinds at the local cafes. Kenya also offers many beach paradises, which are often overlooked in favour of safaris and national parks. We recommend relaxing at the idyllic beach resort town of Diani, south of the elegant coastal city of Mombasa.
Take it from our local experts: kids will love a family holiday to Kenya thanks to its combination of safari, beach, and city experiences. Feeding giraffes at the conservation centre in Nairobi, is always a family favourite!
Need more information or advice? Ask Mary, our local family specialist in Kenya.
6. Rwanda: Home to the mighty mountain gorillas
Rwanda is one of the last places on the planet where you can spot the endangered mountain gorilla in the wild. Your journey to track these magnificent creatures begins at the base of the volcano peaks of Volcanoes National Park. With an experienced guide, you and your family will get to trek through varying ecozones — rainforest, swamps, marshes, and thickets of bamboo — in search of the elusive giants.
After a challenging hike through the volcano peaks, relax on the shores of Lake Kivu. Rubavu, a former colonial retreat, is the perfect place to take a break for lunch and maybe a quick dip in the lake. Continue your exploration of Rwandan wildlife with a safari through Akagera National Park, with a landscape completely different from the western highlands. Among the savannah grasslands and tangled acacias, spot lions, herds of elephants and buffalos, leopards, giraffes, and hippopotamuses.
Take it from our local experts: kids will love a family holiday to Rwanda thanks to its position as one of only two countries where you can see wild mountain gorillas. Adventure activities here are great, too. If you're planning to stay around Lake Kivu, head out for a swim, kayak in the blue waters, or take a boat out to the peculiarly-named ‘Napoleon’s Hat’ island in the middle of the lake.
Need more information or advice? Ask Doris, our local family specialist in Rwanda.
7. Namibia: A desert adventure
Deriving its name from the Namib, a vast coastal desert, Namibia is the driest country in Sub Saharan Africa. Its geography and climate differ dramatically from its more fertile neighbours, Botswana and South Africa. Take the ancient, orange-red dunes of the Sossusvlei, which reach up to a staggering 400 metres high, the height of an average skyscraper!
The wildlife found in the Namib is also unlike anywhere else, having had to adjust to the arid climate. See desert-adapted lions, elephants, and rhinoceroses, and the more regular chameleons and geckos. The most striking creature is probably the Oryx, found scampering over the rust-coloured desert dunes. Round off your family tour of Namibia in the coastal resort of Swakopmund, and get some respite from the desert wandering its lush gardens, and trying out charming restaurants and cafes.
Take it from our local experts: kids will love a family holiday to Namibia thanks to its unique dunescape beaches, a natural extension of the inland desert, and the chance to see colonies of seals at Cape Cross.
Need more information or advice? Ask Liza, our local family specialist in Namibia.
8. Botswana: For pristine, marshy wilderness
When people think of Botswana, the mind immediately goes to Okavango Delta: the lush floodlands bursting with diverse animal life, and often featured in sweeping aerial shots on Animal Planet. The delta’s fame is not unearned; it is a UNESCO World Heritage site, home to many endangered mammals, including cheetahs, lions, rhinoceroses, hyenas, and an incredible array of endemic birdlife. The perfect way to spot the wildlife here is by taking a traditional Mokoro canal out along the shallow reed-lined streams.
For a more traditional safari in savannah grasslands, look no further than the Central Kalahari Game Reserve, home to all Big Five mammals and many other fascinating ungulates, big cats, and bird species besides. History and culture enthusiasts, the desert is also home to the San people, one of the world’s oldest cultures.
Take it from our local experts: kids will love a family holiday to Botswana thanks to its incredible delta which is best explored by dug-out canoe. Getting up close with the species that inhabit the land also makes for an unforgettable childhood souvenir, whether it’s watching an elephant cross right in front of the boat or glimpsing a lechwe moving through tall marsh grasses.
Need more information or advice? Ask Lilly, our local family specialist in Botswana.
Looking for more inspiration?
Still haven't found what you're looking for? Head to our dedicated Family Travel Page to browse the best child-friendly destinations, tours, and experiences curated by our carefully-selected local agencies around the world.
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